• House Standing Orders require the houses to debate the President’s speech uninterrupted for three consecutive sittings.
• The legislators spoke as the two houses start debating the President’s State of the Nation Address speech delivered in Parliament on November 12.
Members of Parliament have hailed President Uhuru Kenyatta’s state of the nation address speech as unifying and giving hope but one that failed to address the nation's economic health.
Led by Senate Majority leader Samuel Poghisio and National Assembly Minority leader John Mbadi, the lawmakers said the President was shy from telling Kenyans the reality and the truth where the country is economically amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The legislators – senators and members of the national assembly – spoke last week as the two houses start debating the President’s State of the Nation Address speech delivered in Parliament on November 12.
House Standing Orders require the houses to debate the President’s speech uninterrupted for three consecutive sittings.
“The Speech by the President gives us some hope because like Moses on top of Mount Nebo he can see what the future has in store for us,” Poghisio said.
Mandera Senator Mohamed Mahamud said that while the President’s speech gave hope, it was in conflict with reality on the ground with regards to the economic status and the political atmosphere of the country.
“The state of the nation is strong, resilient, beaming with the promise of an even brighter future. That is very optimistic and futuristic but the fact is that this country is facing a lot of challenges which are caused by Covid-19,” he said.
“Our economy is not doing well because of the slow down which was caused by Covid-19.”
He, however, lauded the country’s security apparatus for keeping the dreaded Al-Shabaab at bay as security boarders.
While commending the achievement made in the roll-out of Universal Health Coverage (UHC), Narok senator Ledama Ole Kina the president did address himself to the fight against corruption.
“I expected that during his Seventh state of the nation address - which is something we were all looking forward to - the President will give us a status update with clear milestones and deliverables on the war of corruption. I did not hear this from the President,” Ole Kina said.
In the National Assembly, MPs said that even before the pandemic, things were not normal as the nation was still unable to its needs.
“There is no denying that this country, alongside many others in the world, we are struggling. Let us not shy away from this because that is why I see a lot of demands on our resources as a nation. People thinking that there is a pool of money somewhere,” Mbadi said.
“As a nation, we must agree and accept and come to the realization that we are in a total economic crisis as a nation. Even the debt level we approved the other day of Sh9 trillion, we are almost hitting the 9 trillion that is a plain fact,” he added.
He said the country has borrowed Sh784 billion from World Bank though fortunately, it is a concessionaire loan with zero interest it's still a loan.
“We also received 1.6 billion USD from IMF, which translates to over Sh160 billion shillings, if you add the two you're almost hitting a trillion. That raises our indebtedness as a country,” he explained.
He asked the President, to come out boldly “Even if it's a matter of all public officers taking a pay cut, we should to protect the economy,”
North Imenti MP Rahim Dawood hailed the President remarks that he would want to see a Kenya where no one will assent to a high public office on account of his tribe.
“I wanted to add, not just tribe it should even be race as well. We have some members in this Parliament who have not been chosen because of their tribe or race because we are a testament to that,” Dawood said.
“We as Kenyans, as politicians should be acceptable to each and every person’s contrary opinion,” he added.
Kathiani MP Robert Mbui said the country required the President’s foresight of bringing Kenyans together.
“Every five years, every election cycle of five years, Kenyans fight, lose property, they lose their loved ones, people get injured and maybe some people can forget, but I cannot,” he said.