ON THE SPOT

Watchdog accuses Jubilee of failure to implement manifesto

Mzalendo Trust Watch report says most pre-election pledges are still unmet

In Summary

• The report flags Jubilee for generally failing in the implementation of its promises, including those to women and youth and those on devolution and governance.

• The document sought to examine the extent to which political parties influence Parliament with regards to the 2017 Kenya elections in legislative agendas and policies.

Jubilee Party leaders President Uhuru Kenyatta with deputy President William Ruto at the Launch of the party Manifesto at Kasarani Indoor Arena June 27,2017
Jubilee Party leaders President Uhuru Kenyatta with deputy President William Ruto at the Launch of the party Manifesto at Kasarani Indoor Arena June 27,2017
Image: ENOS TECHE

A parliamentary watchdog has criticised President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee administration for failure to implement most of the pre-election pledges in its 2017 manifesto.

Jubilee has a clear majority in both houses of Parliament to enable the government to drive its policy, legislative and development agenda.

“Notwithstanding the ‘tyranny of numbers’, JP faced a momentous task in implementing many of the promises in its 2017 manifesto, whether it was on developmental outcomes or outright promotion of the constitutional principles of inclusion and equality, good governance and devolution,” the Mzalendo Trust Watch report states.

Mzalendo keeps an eye on Parliament with the mission of facilitating public participation in parliamentary processes through information-sharing.

The #Promise2Implementation report also takes a swipe at the opposition Nasa coalition and Thirdway Alliance for abandoning their blueprints instead of putting the government on check to implement them.

The report sought to examine the extent to which political parties influence Parliament with regards to the 2017 elections in legislative agendas and policies.

Jubilee, the report says, had generally failed to implement its promises, including those involving women, youth, devolution and governance.

Nasa and Thirdway Alliance on the other hand are ‘reasonably’ limited in implementing their promises due to structural weakness owing to the coalition disintegration and the Handshake.

“Whereas many other factors (such as vested interests and lack of political goodwill) can explain the JP’s underperformance, the party’s legislative agenda is being driven by the Executive’s priorities, as opposed to an exhaustive exploration of the ideas in the 2017 JP manifesto.” 

The report says JP’s legislative agenda made no explicit references to the 2017 manifesto. The party only refers to the manifesto when the legislative agenda concerned developmental outcomes.

“The JP developed very limited number of legislations and policies on the promotion of inclusivity and equality, contrary to the numerous promises on its 2017 manifesto,” it said.

Further, “the JP ignored many of its campaign promises on promoting women’s empowerment, albeit with very few successes on legislation and policy".

On the promotion and delivery of good governance, the JP ignored nearly all the itemised promises on the 2017 manifesto. However, the party considered a few legislations and policy measures.

It adds that the promises on enhancing ethnic diversity have hardly been implemented, the exception thus far being the JP’s reforms on the NCIC’s mandate for effective performance of national integration functions.

“Further, many of the JP’s promises on devolution remain unfulfilled. Nonetheless, the party made considerable efforts towards collaborating with country governments in reviewing the existing legal instruments with a view of addressing any gaps that undermine service delivery.” 

Upon forming the government after the 2017 election, the report notes the JP leadership framed its priority areas as the ‘Big Four’ Agenda comprising: enhancing manufacturing, food security and nutrition, universal health coverage, and affordable housing as part of its transformational projects.

Dubbed as the ‘specifics’ in President Kenyatta’s transformation agenda by one of the JP lawmakers, the ‘Big Four’ crowded out the urgency of promoting the constitutional principles of inclusion and equality, good governance and devolution.

“With its attention on the ‘Big Four’, the JP’s executive and parliamentary business shifted towards fulfilling the President’s legacy project. Coupled with the general lack of political will and commitment to uphold the constitutional values, a shift to the ‘Big Four’ agenda exacerbated the JP’s inability to fulfil the grand promises in its 2017 manifesto,” the report notes.

It blames Kenya’s presidential system of governance for Nasa’s failure to translate its relative legislative strength into action to realise its 2017 campaign promises.

Additionally, the Constitution of 2010 has no place for a shadow opposition cabinet under which the Nasa coalition would have advocated for the issues in their 2017 manifesto.

“The Constitution only envisions the minority as a check, and confers it no serving functions.” 

Moreover, the connection between the coalition and parliamentary agenda is very weak partly due to limited number of meetings, and an overall lack of focus.

“Some members of the Nasa coalition strongly believed that they were under no obligation to follow through their campaign promises after the voters’ verdict in 2017. Members of the Nasa coalition interpreted their electoral loss as a rejection of their ideas, as manifestos are a preparation for roles in government.”

In this regard, an ODM official, according to the report, noted that he could not talk about the Nasa manifesto anymore, as it “starts with if we win power”, which was not the case.

Nonetheless, the Nasa coalition’s critical mass in Parliament, a large support base across the country, and legislative obligations prompted some of its members to contribute to legislation and policy development.

“Just as the JP, the coalition’s legislative agenda did not make explicit references to the 2017 manifesto, but followed the interests of individual legislators.”

Furthermore, the opposition coalition did not have a collective legislative agenda, which was aggravated by its integration after the March 2018 Handshake between President Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga.

Thereafter, Uhuru and Raila unveiled the Building Bridges Initiative  as a programme for confronting Kenya’s governance challenges under their shared objectives.

“Although the BBI proposals provide a window of opportunity for the JP and its partners in the Nasa coalition to promote the constitutional principles of inclusion and equality, good governance and devolution, what are the guarantees that they will follow similar paths of unfulfilled promises?" the report asks.