Sunday, September 15, 2013

Why Uhuru Kenyatta is on the warpath

Shun party politics and engage in development, President Uhuru Kenyatta tells leaders

Updated Sunday, September 15th 2013 at 20:01 GMT +3
President Uhuru Kenyatta

NAIROBI; KENYA: President Uhuru Kenyatta has urged leaders in the country to rise above party politics and engage one another as elected representatives to provide solutions to the many challenges facing the nation.

President Uhuru said politics ended with the general elections and Kenyans should now embrace dialogue in the spirit of collaboration to push forward the country’s transformative agenda.

The President was speaking during a thanksgiving service organised by the Abagusii professionals from across the country and the Diaspora at Safari Park Hotel, Nairobi.

He said while competitive politics was healthy for democracy to thrive in the country; leaders should elevate the platform of engagement to a non-divisive and pro-cohesion sphere.

The President said: “Let us shun politics of confrontation and avoid politicising everything. Kenyans are sometimes unable to engage one another due to the never ending political contests.”

President Uhuru reaffirmed his commitment to equally engage elected leaders and professionals without bias on their political affiliation in furtherance of the government’s transformative agenda.

The President further said the government will serve all Kenyans without prejudice. He added that no part of Kenya will be left out in the development process.

President Uhuru assured: “Every Kenyan has a right to be served by the government without discrimination. We intend to do exactly that.”

The president said the recently launched Sh6 billion Uwezo Fund will facilitate youth in the country to be busy in productive activities and therefore keep them away from idleness, drug abuse and other social vices.

Alongside the Uwezo Fund, President Uhuru pointed out that the allocation of 30 per cent of government procurement tenders to youth and women will enable them to handle over Sh400 billion of the state budget.

The Head of State also challenged Kenyans to take advantage of opportunities arising from regional integration to diversify their investments and benefit from the expanded market for goods and services.

The President asked Kenyans to maintain peace as unity was the prerequisite for any tangible development.

Information, Communication and Technology Cabinet Secretary, Dr Fred Matiang’i, told the Kisii community and Kenyans in general to focus on activities that will improve on livelihoods and contribute to the government’s development agenda.

Kisii professionals led by Constitution Implementation Commission Chairman Mr Charles Nyachae assured the President that professionals in the country will support his government to deliver on its mandate.

Why Uhuru Kenyatta is on the warpath

Updated Saturday, September 14th 2013 at 23:39 GMT +3

President Uhuru Kenyatta Photo: File/Standard

By JUMA KWAYERA and Jacob Ng’etich

Kenya: President Uhuru Kenyatta is an angry man. He is fed up with the incessant attacks the Opposition has mounted against the Jubilee government and distressed by the ongoing trials at the International Criminal Court.

According to Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, the pressure on the President to allocate more funds to counties, teachers, doctors, military and demands by university lecturers for better pay have pushed him to the wall.

Disquiet in the public service seemed to give the opposition the ammunition it required to launch attacks on the government, projecting the Jubilee administration as incompetent and indecisive, especially after it delayed to release July salaries for civil servants.

“There has been underground propaganda that the government would be weakened when the ICC trials begin,” Murkomen said.

“Yale yote mnasikia huko nje yataisha (all that you hear out there will come to an end),” said the president on Wednesday at Ukunda in reference to the ICC cases.

Sources close to him said the President wants to send a clear message that no one should take his leadership for granted or mistake his friendly persona as a sign of weakness. “The President has decided enough is enough because he has done everything in his power to work with the Opposition, but they have only intensified attacks against everything the Government is doing,” said an ally of the president.

Reality check

He has been in a foul and combative mood over the last two weeks, daring the Opposition and telling his fiercest political opponent, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga “to stay at home and watch how we lead the country”. Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s spokesperson Dennis Onyango said there was no need to respond as the President did not mention the Cord leader directly.

“We decided not to respond because we do not feel like the President targeted the former Prime Minister directly. We can only comment when he is mentioned,” said Mr Onyango. Uhuru’s disposition has significantly shifted, noticeably switching from his trademark easy-going mien to an authoritative commander-in-chief ready to take the fight to his opponents’ doorstep.

Amukowa Anangwe, a political science lecturer at Dodoma University, says the President’s transformation is a reality check and is good for the country. “He has come to terms with the fact that he cannot rule by begging and pleading with Kenyans the way he has been doing. He has to act tough and be firm because as Head of State, he has realised he personally carries the failures and successes of the country, and thus he has to lead from the front... and that is good for the country,” said Prof Anangwe.

Confidence boost

Munene Macharia of the United States International University seems to agree with this thinking. According to him, the tough-talking President is alive to the reality that too much bureaucracy in Government will rock the administration and undermine his own bid for a second term.

“He has been fair on bureaucrats but by asserting himself he also wants to instill discipline in public service because when things are not working well, he bears the blame,” said Prof Munene.

The people close to the President say after a stormy start of his presidency, he has grown in confidence and is becoming more assertive. But critics in the Opposition argue that his recent hard hitting statements in Mombasa, Elgeyo Marakwet, Ruiru (Kiambu) and Ukunda (South Coast) are a panic reaction to the upcoming ICC cases and the tough challenges the Jubilee government has faced.

These positions notwithstanding, the feel-good atmosphere associated with the President’s ascension to power has suddenly evaporated as the Jubilee government resorts to harshly recriminating critics that have occasionally threatened to cause disaffection among the citizenry.

When he spoke last weekend at Murkomen’s homecoming ceremony, the President shed the camaraderie-cum-conciliatory tone the public is used to. In an aggressive and combative speech, he charged at the Opposition and critics who had sounded the alarm over an imminent power vacuum in the country when trials of crimes against humanity he and Deputy President William Ruare facing at the ICC commence.

Mr Ruto’s trial got underway on Tuesday last week and will go on for three weeks, while the President is expected in the dock from November 11. The combative president brought back memories of his late father, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya’s founding President. “We will go there, defend ourselves and those who are spreading lies will be humiliated,” Uhuru said at Murkomen’s homecoming.

He warned that those who thought that there would be a leadership vacuum because of the ICC cases were dead wrong. “Those who think there will be a vacuum in Government are dreaming. The Government is steadfast and you should not have an iota of worry,” said the President.

The Opposition, led by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, has consistently attacked the Jubilee government over its alleged assault on devolution and land reforms. Raila made a scathing attack against Kenyatta when he issued 60,000 title deeds to squatters at the Coast two weeks ago, telling the President to stop doing clerical work.

Uhuru did not take that particular attack lightly, and has since engaged in an overdrive offensive throwing barb after barb at his nemesis. “We have decided that ours is to work, even if they say we are clerks and cooks. As long as Kenyans enjoy better services we do not care,” said the President.

Another thorny issue that has rubbed the President the wrong way is the debate on the planned referendum on devolution, which some see as an attempt to sabotage the Government or to whip up public emotions against the Uhuru administration.

Speaking with authority and discernible anger last week, Uhuru warned the Senate against frustrating the Jubilee government through unnecessary demands and instead told them to support programmes that would take the country forward.

“Msitusumbue, tulia, tulia, msione tumenyamaza, mkafikiri sisi hatuwezi, mimi sitaki mchezo bwana, tusichocheane (do not disturb us, just be calm, when you see us keeping quiet do not think we cannot do anything, I will not tolerate jokes, let’s not incite each other), let’s work to ensure that people get work,” he said.

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