KWENDO OPANGA: What’s in Raila,Ruto election manifestos

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DP William Ruto, President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga during the launch of the BBI

NAIROBI

By Kwendo Opanga

The best response to bottom-up and hustler narratives by the Kenya Kwanza presidential aspirant William Ruto is rarely expounded upon.

Ruto has reeled off rafts of programmes for women and youth, running into billions of shillings in a year.

It is Raila Odinga’s 10-point agenda which he unveiled when he launched his presidential bid disguised as Azimio’s last December at Kasarani.

Odinga’s agenda includes youth empowerment, empowerment of women, creation of jobs, healthcare, social protection or putting money in the pockets of families, food production, and access to education to mention seven. Was he responding to Ruto’s model? Absolutely.

RAILA ODINGA AND MARTHA KARUA

The difference will have to be seen in the details to be published in the manifestos, which, unfortunately, neither party leaderships nor rank and file, read.

Yet it is the responsibility of political parties to educate their members on their values and what they seek to achieve for the country when in government.

Detail matters, especially because it should contain the how.

Ruto has reeled off rafts of programmes for women and youth, running into billions of shillings in a year.

But he has never been put to task to explain how exactly he is going to raise the money to fund these many and extensive programmes.

When the government announced in the first week of May that Kenya's economy had grown by 7.5 per cent in 2021, neither presidential candidates nor the chattering classes seized on this to make the economy the centrepiece of the electioneering.

Odinga has promised to give Kenya’s unemployed youth each Sh6,000 per month. One of his arguments has been that he has been in government before and knows the loopholes through which public money is siphoned.

On closing these loopholes, he says, money will be saved and used to fund this programme. Sounds good, but he does not mention the loopholes. What is Baba Care? Is it an insurance scheme?

Moi,Raila and Kibaki

How different is it from the products of the National Health Insurance Fund? Almost every governor in Kenya has a health programme named after him or her and now comes Odinga’s.

Hopefully, the details will be in Azimio’s manifesto.

In the meantime, on the stump candidates claim they have the formula, for example, for bringing down the cost of flour, bread and milk, or, to put it another way, reducing the cost of living. What is the magic wand? Why is it not deployed now?

When the government announced in the first week of May that Kenya’s economy had grown by 7.5 per cent in 2021, neither presidential candidates nor the chattering classes seized on this to make the economy the centrepiece of the electioneering.

DP William Ruto, President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga

After all, Kenyans are struggling with prices of basic commodities which have shot through the roof.

In 2020, the President of the African Development Bank Dr Akinwumi Adesina forcefully argued that Africa’s economies may be growing strongly, but growth alone cannot meet the needs of the continent’s poorest citizens.

Why?

Because, he said, nobody eats GDP. Put simply, hungry Kenyans need money in their pockets to put food on the table.

Credit however goes to Ruto and Kenya Kwanza Alliance. They have been holding town hall-style meetings where local people have been airing their concerns and engaging in discussions about how their lives can be made better.

Last, should this not call for a serious discussion on devolution, the star of the 2010 constitution? Devolution has been eclipsed by the drive by the two main tickets to force electors into the straitjacket of voting for one party or coalition to grab all the six seats on the ballot.

Candidates for governorship, the heads of Kenya’s second tier of government, are not being asked to tell the electorate what they want to do for them. All of them are campaigning for the top ticket (president and running mate) for that is akin to their meal tickets.

Uhuru,Raila and Ruto

Conversely, the records of first and  second term governors are not being scrutinised. Nobody is debating how Jubilee and or ODM governors have performed since 2013. Indeed, gubernatorial candidates have been imposed by party headquarters and not been nominated by rank and file.

There is no discussion on the involvement of the people in the management of their resources or participation in decisions made about their markets, water, clinics et al.

Nobody is asking this question: have the billions that have been poured into devolution since 2013 been used to reduce poverty in the counties?

What Odinga is talking about is increasing allocation of money to the counties. What most of the outgoing governors are doing is campaigning for Odinga to become president and give them jobs in his government.

Odinga has already nominated Governors Wycliffe Oparanya and Hassan Joho for Cabinet Secretaries for Finance and Lands respectively. A precedent has been set.

Gubernatorial candidates will be campaigning for the top ticket (the presidential candidate).

Presidential candidates will be campaigning for a clean sweep of the six seats on the ballot.

 Odinga, Ruto and their running mates are keen to determine what happens down the ticket. What could obscure local and pocketbook, or people,  issues more?

Ends

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