BY UHURU KENYATTA AND WILLIAM RUTO
Throughout history, great leaders have come together for the good of their nations. Sometimes these individuals have sacrificed their careers – others have sacrificed far more – to act for the good of their country and their people. Today, history judges these leaders, with the best held up as heroes; their decisions having shaped history.
Abraham Lincoln – perhaps the greatest of all American presidents – led a young America through a civil war of shocking intensity and violence. Families were ripped apart; communities turned on themselves. Lincoln, a master orator and story-teller, would be killed by an assassin’s bullet before his efforts to keep his country together could be realised. His goal, however, of winning through and binding his people together and saving a continent from decades of conflict, would ultimately prevail.
The issues which threatened the future of America 250 years ago were complex. Lincoln’s approach, to calm those who were heated and cajole those who were recalcitrant, was contrary but ultimately brilliantly simple. He sought to find common ground with his rivals while showing a willingness to forgive those who erred and strayed. This openness and acceptance of the natural variances of human nature arguably ensured the survival of the United States.
Other leaders have taken their countries through what have been described as their “darkest hours”. Winston Churchill was called upon to lead Great Britain through the Second World War. His indefatigable robustness gave the British people hope and inspired in equal measure. An often forgotten – but arguably essential ingredient to the allies’ victory in the war (in which thousands of Kenyans fought and died) was Churchill’s loyal deputy, Clement Atlee.
The leader of a political party in his own right, he served as Churchill’s understudy on domestic issues, but also carried his Labour Party’s natural support with him behind Churchill when times were tough. Without Attlee’s consistent efforts, the coalition government, which led Britain to victory, may well have fallen; history could have been very different.
We have taken the decision to work together because, like Lincoln and his rivals, Churchill and Attlee, we believe it is in the best interests of our country. We wish to find common ground, not grounds for disagreement. Our desire is this: deliver stability and calm. If we can deliver stability and calm at next year’s crucial elections, followed by swift action in meeting our election pledges, we can be judged on our work in delivering what every Kenyan needs: Better healthcare, education and infrastructure rather than leadership out of the ashes of a terrible conflict.
We are not claiming to be political heavyweights of the magnitude of Abraham Lincoln or men of destiny as Winston Churchill frequently claimed to be. But we do believe that history will prove us right for what we are doing. We believe that Kenya has reached a tipping point. The future of Kenya needs careful handling of our people, issues and events in a way that brings all together, not divides them.
We are sure our agreement will find the right path for a stable future for all Kenyans. United we stand; together we will move Kenya forward. The alternative is too unthinkable to consider. That is why our rallies in all parts of Kenya attract so many thousands coming together in recognition of the need for a new approach before it is too late.
In 2002 and 2007, the elections were all about political leaders cobbling together allegiances for the sake of party preservation and the maintenance of power. This time, the General Election on March 4 is a poll with a difference. It will be the culmination of the lessons that Kenyans have learnt since the restoration of political pluralism 20 years ago.
The politics of unity and peace has to prevail; the practitioners of the politics of disunity and violence are in the shadows but the bright light of hope people hold for the future must drive them away.
We have always been transparent in our dealings and open in our beliefs as to what is best for Kenya. This is why we are fighting together with new ideas for better healthcare provision, high educational standards, fighting corruption and boosting State institutions. Above all, we put national cohesion and security at the heart of what we are trying to achieve.
If we are successful, Kenya can enjoy a new prosperity. If we fail, history will not be kind to us as those who wish to see division and hardship will not be kind to their neighbours.
Our record in the short time we have been in government is in the public domain. At the ministries of Finance, Agriculture and Higher Education, we left imprints that show what we are capable of. We introduced the Economic Stimulus Package and devolved funds to every constituency. Through it, model schools, fresh produce markets, health centres and others were built.
To ensure efficiency in government, we ensured the implementation of the Integrated Finance Management Information system (IFMIS). Through the system, every transaction is recorded.
Fertiliser and seed prices were subsidised, irrigation along the Tana produced a bumper harvest not seen in Kenya before. Great plans for higher education were laid.
We go to the people of Kenya with the promise of economic transformation, national unity, reconciliation and equity. They have heard us. They trust us. We have no doubt that they will give us the honour to make Kenya great.
(Mr Kenyatta is the Jubilee presidential candidate and Mr Ruto his running mate)