President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto, during the launch of the National Government Public Information Portal in Nairobi Monday. [PSCU]
President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto, have unveiled a 12-point record of achievements they hope will persuade voters to re-elect them.
The two Monday sought to re-ignite the sparkle of the glitzy digital campaign that swept them to power in 2013 by unveiling an electronic platform detailing developments in key sectors. It is meant to make a fresh pitch for a second term in office.
They used comparative statistical data sprinkled with doses of political rhetoric to push back the narrative that the Jubilee administration had burdened Kenyans with soaring debt, rising cost of living, and runaway corruption.
“I believe with the kind of strides we have made, we are headed in the right direction. We are not there yet, but we are filling a gap that should have been filled 20-30 years ago,” Uhuru said.
He added: “It is going to take effort. Even a farmer must prepare the land, sow, fertilise, weed, and ultimately tend that crop. I believe we have started. I ask for patience, time, and support. We ask the people of Kenya to give us another opportunity to be able to continue on this transformational journey.”
He spoke at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC), Nairobi, at the launch of the government’s delivery portal, an echo of Jubilee’s 2013 ‘digital’ campaign, which is divided into three parts.
It provides a glimpse of Jubilee’s 11 flagship programmes, milestones across the government’s 21 ministries, and national government programmes in the country’s 47 counties.
The portal also contains testimonials, pictures, and videos from citizens and the impact the government programmes has had on their lives.
Jubilee hopes to sway voters by focusing on achievements in ICT, health care, land reforms, infrastructure growth, social inclusion, including cash transfer programmes, and education.
Other areas covered are food security, energy, youth and women empowerment programmes, investment in security equipment, and increased police recruitment. The portal also showcases improved ease of doing business and Huduma Centres, where a range of government services are available under one roof.
“We are ready for our track record. We want the people to judge us on the basis of our record. Our competitors should also come with their scorecard. They have been around and I’m sure they must have some track record of some sort so that the competition is proper. The debate should be all of us who have been leaders to get out our record. That is what the portal is about,” said Ruto.
Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto, who are fighting for re-election in less than four months, cited infrastructural projects and key social programmes as some of their greatest achievements in their four years in power.
However, they conceded that they had failed to fulfil some of their 2013 pledges and explained that what they have not done is ‘work in progress’ and that they should be given another term to complete it.
Among the promises the government said it has fulfilled is the construction of the standard gauge railway, construction of a new harbour at the Coast, and the reduction in the cost of doing business in the country.
Jubilee also said it has eased access to electricity from 29 per cent in 2013 to 40 per cent in 2017 and assisted youth to start businesses by offering them cheap loans.
But the President and his deputy, aware of discontent over some of their unfulfilled pledges, were quick to pre-empt an onslaught from the Opposition, consistent in its message that the Kenyatta-Ruto administration has shortchanged Kenyans in the war against corruption, cost of living, and a halfhearted effort to implement devolution.
The cost of unga (maize flour), a particularly soft Jubilee underbelly in the run-up to the polls, did not escape mention in the function attended by most key Cabinet members.
“In 2012, the price of unga was almost Sh140. It was when we came into power that the price dropped to Sh100. Right now, the price has gone up because of severe drought and that is why we are now focusing on irrigation to become food secure,” said President Kenyatta.
He added: “Today, there is no complaint from farmers – whether there will be a market for their maize or not. Farmers in Kenya will tell you that for the last four years, payment for delivery has been more prompt than it has ever been. We have not only managed to keep farmers happy, but prices reasonable.”
The Jubilee leaders admitted they have not built the five stadiums promised in 2013. “We have not built the stadiums but that is one of the projects we are ready to admit is work in progress. It is not that we are living in an environment of unlimited resources. We have to prioritise,” said the President.
The government also sought to score points in its increasingly bare-knuckle war with governors, instead taking credit for revenue collection and implementing ‘national government’ projects in the counties.
President Kenyatta described the supremacy wars with governors as ‘weird’. “If we did not have such a weird way of thinking by some of our governors, we would be doing these things together,” he said.
“We do not have money that belongs to the national government and that which belongs to the counties. The money sent to the counties is a share that has been collected from the people in total. …if the national government does no collect revenue, counties will not have money to spend,” Uhuru said.
The Deputy President termed the Eurobond scandal “the biggest lie ever told in Kenya”. “There is a lot of propaganda about Eurobond, which is that Sh200 billion can disappear into thin air. That is pathetic, and that is why this portal is necessary,” he said.
The opposition said the money, collected from Kenya’s first sovereign bond was looted and has challenged the government to show any project it funded.