, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 12 – Talk of horns, ugali and briefcases at a breakfast meeting with editors at State House punctuated the commemoration of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto’s first 100 days in office.
As they took their oaths of office on April 9, the ‘dynamic duo’ made a number of promises which they even more aspirationally pledged to get done within the first 100 days of their swearing in.
The list of promises included the provision of free health care to expectant mothers in public health facilities, the setting up of a fund for the youth and women with the Sh6 billion saved by the avoidance of a presidential run-off and perhaps more notably, that all the pupils who join class one in 2014 will receive a laptop.
“We made a promise to our children and we will keep it because we believe that early exposure to technology will inspire future innovation and be a catalyst for growth and prosperity,” President Kenyatta said to a packed Moi International Sports Centre on his inauguration.
The promise the president referred to was the Jubilee Alliance campaign pledge “to work with international partners to provide solar powered lap-top computers equipped with relevant content for every school age child in Kenya,” as stated in their manifesto.
A befitting pledge given President Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto fashioned themselves as the “digital team” and evolved into the “digital government.”
Fifty-three days into his term, President Kenyatta delivered on his promise to expectant mothers and the framework for the disbursement of the Sh6 billion is still being formulated but the laptop project remains the most ambitious yet.
Especially as just three months since they took up office, teachers went on strike on account of Sh15.37 billion allocated toward the laptop project instead of allowances they say have due to them since 1997.
President Kenyatta however remains adamant that contrary to what has been the practice in the past, campaign pledges must be met “For anybody to tell me that rather than borrow and invest in our children; invest in our school infrastructure, I should borrow money to pay somebody their salary… you want our children tomorrow to be paying off debts that you used to eat today? Surely, that doesn’t make sense; you invest in the future!”
Even not including the teachers’ strike, the Jubilee government’s first 100 days in office have been anything but uneventful as President Kenyatta and his Deputy sought to implement a number of firsts, themselves included, as stipulated in the recently adopted constitution.
As never done before, the two unveiled their first four Cabinet Secretaries with their jackets off, in matching ties, with resumes in hand and as they look forward to many more firsts, six days before the 100 day mark, the fourth estate made some promises of its own.
A sentiment whose significance was not lost on Deputy President Ruto but in the uncanny way we have come to expect, he sought a bit of good faith.
“I asked a friend of mine who is a journalist, ‘the way you write it’s like you don’t find anything good about the things we are doing’ and he told me the best way the media can support a government is to criticise it when it goes wrong and when they do well to criticise it for not doing better… we don’t mind but at least if you criticise us for not doing better at least say we did well.”
Editors, led by chairman Macharia Gaitho however reminded the president and his deputy that they will keep the government in check, pin-point shortcomings and expose corruption when it rears its ugly head.