Kenyans Sleep Hungry and are Less Confident with Uhuru Kenyatta’s Presidency
Mr. Okoth Osewe’s recent article at the Kenya Stockholm Blog calling for Kenyan civil servants to down their tools if forced to have a salary cut was timely, given the current push by President Uhuru Kenyatta to reduce the public wage bill. Interestingly, he and Deputy President William Ruto have decided to take a 20% salary cut each and have ordered Cabinet secretaries and parastatal heads to follow suit. But the big question is: Will the move improve the overall wellbeing of Kenyans? Definitely not, because Kenyan politicians and senior State officers are so greedy and corrupt they will always find ways of filling in the gaps created by the so-called salary cut, which is a gimmick to lure Kenyans away from the non-performance record of the Jubilee government. Why should Kenyatta take a monthly salary given his inherited and illegally-acquired vast wealth? He should instead surrender his pay to poor Kenyans so that he can morally pay for his parents’ corrupt ways of acquiring the Kenyatta family’s wealth.
Last month, the Presidency (State House) requested for an additional Ksh1.5 billion to manage its affairs until the end of this financial year on 30th June. Last year, Kenyatta’s office was allocated Ksh3.1 billion for the 2013/14 budget, yet the year is not yet over and he wants more money. If he cannot lead by example, then he should step down. He needs to seal all leakages and wastage (read corruption) at State House first, then it will not matter if he wants a salary of Ksh10 million per month. Uhuru so far, just like former President Kibaki, is not showing political will in the fight against corruption. Therefore, pay cuts in the public sector will not change anything. Kenyatta’s foreign trips since last year, and all the unnecessary expenditures incurred to charm AU states to back him in his personal challenge (read the ICC case), were not budgeted for and thus the current deficit.
Ironically, Jubilee sycophant and motormouth Aden Duale, who is the Majority Leader of the National Assembly, is willing to have his salary reduced. But last year when Uhuru raised the red flag on the wage bill, he did not convince MPs not to accept unlimited allowances. By reducing their basic salaries but maintaining huge allowances, they will not be making a difference. The recent Jubilee retreat to discuss the ridiculous salary reduction was held at the Mt. Kenya Safari Club, which is one of the most expensive hospitality facilities in the country. It does not make economic sense to spend around Ksh100 million as reported in a cross-section of the local media, to discuss a 20% salary cut.
Although Uhuru’s election pledge for free maternity service to all Kenyan women is being implemented, shockingly, the results of a new study titled ‘A Price Too High to Bear,’ indicate that in every two hours, a woman dies during pregnancy or child-birth due to complications. (See http://www.who.int/pmnch/media/news/2014/press_release.pdf).
Almost a year since the policy’s initiation, maternity hospitals and healthcare centers remain in bad shape and many pregnant women especially the urban and rural poor ones, still depend on traditional midwives to assist them at childbirth. Those who die within this category are likely not to be reported: meaning that the mortality rates are higher countrywide.
Kenyans sleep hungry
The much-hyped laptop project which was one of Uhuru’s key election pledges, has failed to take off after the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board revoked the contract awarded to a mediocre Indian company (Olive Telecommunications Company), which has no capacity to meet the demand. If the government’s budget can only sustain a bid for Ksh20 billion, who authorized the Olive Telecommunications award amounting to Ksh24.6 billion? Moreover, it has been realized that the company has no annual turnover of Ksh8 billion which is the minimum required for awarding the laptop tender. According to Capital FM: “In the year 2010, 2011 and 2012, the company’s annual audited results were Sh6.9million, Sh14.2 million and Sh767million respectively which was way below the requirement for the Lot 1 of the laptop project.” Talk about an Analogue government which campaigned to give Kenyans a “Digital government.”
During the one year of Jubilee rule, poor Kenyans have only experienced hunger, joblessness and hopelessness. The latest Ipsos Kenya perception poll findings released on March 14, 2014 and published in the Nation newspaper indicated that: “Jubilee supporters’ confidence in the President dropped from 53 to 41 per cent and for his deputy from 48 to 38 per cent. This drop also encompasses officers in the executive arm of the government.”
“50% of the respondents felt the cost of living was a serious issue while 19 per cent pointed out lack of employment. Nine per cent said corruption was a major cause of worry while seven per cent said crime and insecurity were issues to worry about.”
“Poor leadership, famine and tribalism polled at five, three, and two per cent respectively while surprisingly, only one per cent of Kenyans said they were concerned about the leadership wrangles due to ICC cases facing President Kenyatta, his Deputy William Ruto and journalist Joshua arap Sang.”
“26 per cent of Kenyans were still sleeping hungry with a majority, 37 per cent from Nyanza and 12 per cent from Central.”
Kenya is ripe for a revolution to give direction on political leadership. Jubilee is similar to the past governments of Kibaki, Moi and Jomo Kenyatta, which tolerated grand corruption and failed to provide necessary services to the taxpayers. Uhuru is filthy rich and will not fight for the poor or redistribute land which is important for economic growth, since he owns thousands of acres acquired illegally.
Lastly, Kenyans wait with bated breath to see how the funds raised by First Lady Margaret Kenyatta’s ‘Beyond Zero’ campaign to improve maternal and child care will be managed. She did well at the half-marathon on 9th March which has raised over Ksh200 million. The irony is that over the years, women and children have been dying due to lack of access to basic healthcare. Where have these rich people been?