There is promise in Uhuru's State of the Nation address

Uhuru Kenyatta came in as a president probably at a more difficult time than all the previous presidents.

In Summary

• From the look of things the heir to the mantle after he leaves office will meet a more complicated nation as daily demands are increasing

President Uhuru Kenyatta speaks at girl guides and girl scouts at State House, Nairobi during the commemoration to celebrate the shared birthday of Lord Baden Powell and his wife Olave on February 23, 2019.
Female Presidency? President Uhuru Kenyatta speaks at girl guides and girl scouts at State House, Nairobi during the commemoration to celebrate the shared birthday of Lord Baden Powell and his wife Olave on February 23, 2019.
Image: PSCU

Uhuru Kenyatta came in as a president probably at a more difficult time than all the previous presidents.

From the look of things the heir to the mantle after he leaves office will meet a more complicated nation as daily demands are increasing and becoming tougher to achieve.

Kenya’s political, economic and social challenges at present signals a tough future. So unless a lot of political, economic and social engineering and reengineering is done there is bound to be a problematic future for the country.

Already, the country is suffering from a lot of unemployment and other economic maladies. Still, our country has not sufficiently overcome high levels of political hostilities.

What we have is a lull after the famous handshake between President Kenyatta and Opposition maestro Raila Odinga early last year.

Returning to high octane and high antagonistic politics is still very easy and highly probable.

Indeed there are all indications that for various reasons, some of personal nature quite a number of politicians derives some benefit from highly divisive politics.

Thus, unless certain structures and systems are put in place, we may end up in a future of divisive and destructive politics.

Looking around on political meetings carried by various politicians across the country at various times especially on weekends, there are signs that it is not just competition as politics is but our political culture hasn’t changed much.

With a difficult economy and a country which has been severely destroyed by high levels of corruption, the sense has been that President Kenyatta has more to do than any past leader.

 

This partly explains the high expectations during the State of the Nation address. Some opine we are not doing enough on the fight against corruption.

Political expediency seems to have carried the day but problems remain unresolved. We are still reeling under the weight of corruption. Corruption is a well-ingrained culture in Kenya. 

As reported in various media, corruption is a scourge affecting both the national and county governments.

As routinely reported in the press and as is ever in people’s tongues, it could explain a lot on the state of affairs of underdevelopment and lack of employment or life improvement opportunities.

Unfortunately in an environment such as is Kenya, where corruption is well entrenched and built robust networks and establishes itself strongly in politics and in other structures including of social nature, defeating the vice is not that easy.

Similarly, with politics in Kenya having been strongly been entrenched on tribal lines, corruption finds big protection in that other horrid evil of tribalism.

If you add the fact that the generally the large population is either aloof or gullible to political propaganda and machinations you have a big problem in overcoming the hurdles to tame the evil.

The reality is, if President Uhuru Kenyatta hopes to leave a country with a sense of direction, a country with a future, a country proud of itself and to build his own legacy as a leader, he has to tame corruption. 

Many leaders will come and go. The reality is there are fundamental changes in law required to condemn graft and destroy its networks and its existence. The law should strongly anchor the fight against corruption.

This fight as we have seen cannot be left to one body. One body or agency can easily be made ineffective or become so.  

It has to be multifaceted and multi-agency in nature. With one body you could have incompetent leaders or officers or compromised ones and makes it harder to make progress.

If it is distributed, it makes it harder for compromising or to allow the vice to thrive without action. Fighting corruption is not easy and thus the complexity needs a lot of different players.  But the laws must come in strongly. This is not too much to ask the president for.

Additionally, there is a problem with our politics. Devolution was a great idea but laws and structures to tame graft in counties need to be enhanced. It is easy to go back or get more aggressive to what has been the politics of exclusion in Kenya. How do we tame this?

The 'winner takes all' system cannot work for countries like Kenya if it ever works elsewhere.

Without increasing too many layers and costs I strongly believe a powerful president (within a presidential system) with other structures to ensure no winner excludes any part of the nation and ensuring better checks and balances are in order.

We need a system that guarantees national security and a leader with the ability to do various duties without excluding any part of the country and without abusing power.

How do we achieve this? I believe we have great legal and political minds that can craft the law that way.

I still believe that we can enhance the Constitution without weakening it to accommodate all that.

The fight against corruption and recovery of proceeds of graft need be constitutionalised in institutions and in the execution of this noble duty. 

Thus as part of the legacy, Uhuru Kenyatta has a lot to do in reforming the supreme law before his term ends.

The address was great in promises. The scepticism you see is based on the fact that the country has huge expectations on delivery and generally, there is a feeling more could have been done and done better the past period.

In a country with a fast-rising population and the scourge of unemployment and poverty slowly but surely destroying it, the expectations are quite reasonable.

We have no choice but to destroy and tame the monstrosity of unemployment and poverty.

As rightly observed by many, this cannot happen within the conditions we are in especially of corruption and bad politics of exclusion and hate. Expect more agitations as we go by.

However, plenty of political risks have to be taken to move the country forward. The circumstances are difficult but inevitably a lot needs to be done at the level of the President.

The baton is on Kenyatta’s hand and can explain why his every move is closely watched and will remain so.

The country expects and needs so much to be done to improve its circumstances and those of the people.

Great leaders are recognised by their efforts that make their countries and citizens better. President Kenyatta has time to achieve that feat.