Four years after the ruling Jubilee coalition took office, the stark reality of taking stock of their achievements and failures ahead of the August general election beacons.
President Uhuru Kenyatta is scheduled to deliver the fourth and last State of the Nation Address of his first term in Parliament on Wednesday next week.
He is expected to enumerate his administration’s achievements so far concerning implementation of the Constitution and delivering on the Jubilee Manifesto of 2013.
Just ahead of the 2013 election, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto (now Deputy President) launched an ambitious manifesto anchored on three pillars: Umoja (Unity), Uchumi (Economy) and Uwazi (Openness).
Only five months to the next election, their pet projects and key campaign promises are something of a mixed bag.
The manifesto pillars focussed on National Cohesion; Security; Trade and Foreign Affairs; Sports & Culture; Healthcare; Education; Youth Empowerment; Women’s Empowerment and Social Protection.
While some promises have been fulfilled, others remain unfulfilled due to a series of mega controversies, infighting and bickering. As Kenya heads into the election, the harmonised UhuRuto manifesto of four years ago will be used as a yardstick both by its supporters and opponents as the duo seeks reelection.
Uhuru and Ruto made a manifesto promise to eliminate ethnic division by using Affirmative Action to ensure that under-represented and marginalised groups are properly represented in every respect. However, according to analysts, there is little to show on this pledge.
They had also promised to ensure that 30 per cent of all appointees to public bodies and parastatals are women and to actively promote the appointment of young people, the disabled and marginalised groups to public positions. But the available information paints a different picture.
Recent government appointments went to political rejects and when they were given to young people they went to well-connected individuals.
On Sports, the Arts and Culture, Jubilee had promised to establish a National Lottery Scheme, boosted by national Budget allocations to fund and support the professionalisation of local sporting leagues across the major disciplines.
Apart from pledging to pursue tax incentives for individual and private sector investors in the Sports, Arts and Entertainment sectors, Uhuru and Ruto also promised to facilitate the professionalisation of sports through introduction of professional coaches in schools.
Another unfulfilled promise was the establishment of youth development centres in all the counties that would house a fully equipped library, an ICT hub, five sports pitches (football, swimming, basketball, netball and volleyball) and a social hall as well as building five new national sports stadia in Kisumu, Mombasa, Nakuru, Eldoret and Garissa, while upgrading existing sporting facilities at the county level to accommodate swimming, tennis, basketball and rugby.
They had also promised to support the Kenya Motorsport Federation to ensure the return of the Safari Rally to the WRC (World Rally Championships) calendar and to rollout a network of national academies for young people, each one specialising in a particular sports or branch of the creative arts.
On health, the ruling party has a record of both success and failure. It had promised to establish full-fledged low-cost diagnostic centres and provide adequate screening and treatment facilities for persons with chronic or terminal conditions, including cancer, diabetes, and kidney failure, in every county. So far, the government has delivered through the Managed Equipment Services scheme which helped increase and improve medical facilities across the country, only to be overtaken by other factors, such as the nationwide doctors’ strike now in its 91st day.
When the Jubilee administration took over in 2013, there were only 44 dialysis machines in public health institutions – including at the Kenyatta National Hospital and Eldoret Referral Hospital. But today, through the scheme, there are about 289 across the country.
There has been an increase of ultrasound machines from 10 in 2013 to over 100 now. Where there were 58 ICU beds in 2013 now there are more than 116.
Jubilee had pledged to ensure improved pay packages for doctors and other health practitioners, but this has yet to happen. It is three months since the doctors downed their tools, citing a collective bargaining agreement that was signed soon after the Jubilee administration came into power.
One of the greatest gains Jubilee had made is the free maternity programme, which, according to government records, has doubled the number of Kenyan mothers who now have access to affordable maternal healthcare, from around 600,000 in 2013 to 1.2 million by the end of last year.
On Education, Jubilee had promised to provide laptops to all Class One students within the first 100 days, but it faced challenges as some unsatisfied bidders challenged how the supplier was identified.
It was only last year that the rollout of the digital learning programme finally kicked off.
There is a slight improvement on the promise to increase the number of schools in disadvantaged areas and restrict class sizes to a maximum of 40.
Members of the National Assembly have used Constituency Development Fund cash to build schools across the nation. The Economic Survey report shows a good improvement in the pupil-to-teacher ratio in both public primary and secondary schools. More teachers have also been employed between 2013 and 2017.
Today, almost all the 26,000 public primary schools in the country have also been connected to power.
The administration had promised to build 3,000 new classrooms by the end of this year so as to double the transition rate from primary to secondary school and also from secondary to tertiary institutions to accommodate those who do not make it to university.
According to government reports, as of January this year, the state had completed 54 new Technical Training Institutes with a plan to construct an additional 76 by the end of this year.
The institutes were however to be established in every ward: This has not happened.
On youth and women’s empowerment, Jubilee was to double the number of women elected to Parliament by amending the Constitution to replace the 12 nominated MPs, with 60 MPs elected by proportional representation, with 48 of these seats reserved for women.
Jubilee also pledged to fully implement the one-third gender rule, to ensure at least 33 per cent of all government and parastatal appointees are women. The Bill on the gender rule has failed to be passed in Parliament, despite Jubilee having the numerical strength in both Houses.
The ruling party also pledged to empower the youth with the necessary skills, capital and opportunities to create wealth for themselves through securing local and foreign investment in new factories and getting the tax-breaks, grants and loans to set up businesses.
On the Economy, Jubilee had an array of solutions to a wide range of ills holding back Kenya from achieving a double-digit growth rate, and had promised to target a 7-10 per cent growth rate in the first two years of the administration. The aim here was to create a million new jobs and also to cut waste and fight corruption, so that public resources are spent wisely and properly.
Jubilee had also pledged to reduce the public deficit so that the government spends more money on services instead of paying off Kenya’s debts. The reality on the ground however is the opposite. Of late there have been major layoffs in private organisations, with the reason being the economy is not doing at all well.
The national debt is also skyrocketing, with external borrowing now at unprecedented and worrying levels.
On Agriculture, the pledge was a food-secure Kenya through ensuring that the sector can produce food in excess of the needs of the country by encouraging mechanisation, irrigation, reviving cooperatives and farmer unions and subsidies for inputs.
Millions of Kenyans in several parts of the country now face starvation, with Jubilee’s pet project the million-acre Galana-Kulalu Irrigation Scheme nowhere near meeting its ambitious targets.
“We ask you to give us a second term so that we can ensure 100 per cent of Kenyans are connected to electricity,” Uhuru said when he toured parts of Kiambu county at the weekend.
He cited the modern standard gauge railway from Mombasa to Nairobi, which is almost complete, and the more than 6,000km of tarmacked roads that have been constructed across the country as some of the achievements of the Jubilee government.