The elections are now behind us and it is time to re-focus our energies as a nation toward realising the Vision 2030 and improving the lives of all Kenyans.
First, congratulations are in order to the winning Jubilee team led by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto. I have no doubt the two leaders have what it takes to move this country to the next level of development. I must also laud the Cord team led by Raila Odinga for accepting the outcome of the electoral process, namely, the Supreme Court verdict upholding Mr Kenyatta’s victory.
As Kenyans, we need to be proud of the fact that the elections were not only peaceful but also credible. Regional and international observers returned a positive verdict saying the polls reflected the will of the people. This is a big plus for Kenyans who turned out in large numbers on March 4 to exercise their democratic right to vote.
Nevertheless, even more important is the fact that our economy has emerged from the most competitive and complex electoral contest in the country’s history unscathed. In the past, the economy would register a dramatic drop after every election most notably in 2007 when GDP reached 7.1 percent only to plummet to 1.6 percent in 2008 when post-election violence rocked the country.
Fortunately, this stop and start pattern has been broken in the last few weeks with both Kenyans and her external partners demonstrating strong commitment to the country’s stability and progress. We expect investment activity to pick up in the coming months.
Under the Vision 2030 national development policy, the GDP needs to grow by at least 10pc each year if we are to lift all our people out of poverty within a generation. Happily, we have set a strong precedent for future elections.
Kenyans need to appreciate that the Vision 2030 played a major role in delivering a peaceful and credible election. The most notable achievement under the Vision 2030 is the Constitution.
This carefully negotiated framework of governance has comprehensively reformed the electoral process and provided a clear dispute resolution mechanism thus averting the chaos witnessed in 2008. We all saw that mechanism at work at the hearing of the presidential election petition in the Supreme Court.
The peaceful and credible manner in which the March elections were conducted constituted a giant step in building key public institutions. The gains made in building the capacity and legitimacy of the Supreme Court and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission must now cascade down the court system and other critical institutions including the police, the public prosecutor and the prisons. These form a key component of the political pillar of the Vision 2030.
In addition, the new Constitution provides sufficient safeguards to ensure that leaders at all levels are held accountable to deliver on clear performance targets, allocate resources equitably across the country and manage public resources prudently. It is not enough to elect leaders but also make them accountable.
Therefore, going forward we must ensure the county leadership adheres to rigorous governance standards set out in the Constitution as far as accountability, transparency are concerned. The governors and county representatives must, always be guided by the tenets of servant leadership as opposed to putting their interests above those of mwananchi.
Following the peaceful elections now, is the moment to direct all our national efforts and resources to lift-off with a renewed spirit of unity and enterprise. If Kenya is to deliver on its promise to its citizens, this is the time to consolidate the progress made over the last 50 years into a single national focus – Project Kenya.
This time, let us not break the momentum. Kenya remains one of the most vibrant and innovative nations in Africa, with a well-educated, enterprising population, a robust capitalist tradition, and an economy that straddles agriculture, tourism, communications, construction, natural resources and services.
To move the nation forward, we must not allow negative ethnic politics and selfish interests to derail on-going political, economic and social reforms as outlined in the Vision 2030.
However, I remain confident that by implementing the Vision 2030, tribalism will fall by the wayside and that Wanjiku will shift her loyalty from the ethnic group to Project Kenya. We can do this by providing her with basic welfare – education, health, security and infrastructure, and ensure she has diverse opportunities to apply her hard work and create a better future for herself and her family.
Instead, we must enhance the productivity of our people and enterprises in order to generate more revenue to fund national development. Fortunately, most of the pledges by the Jubilee coalition to Kenyans and as spelt out in their manifesto resonate with the Vision 2030 goals in crucial areas such as education, health, security, housing, infrastructure and agriculture. It is now a matter of implementing those pledges.
Vision 2030 has already achieved many significant milestones from infrastructure to sweeping policy reforms in education and agriculture. However, if these changes are to be deeply rooted, our “software”, that is, our cultural norms must also evolve. After decades of civic education, Kenyans have learnt to articulate their democratic rights forcefully. However, in the next decade, we need to shift focus to responsibility, discipline and hard work while ensuring equal opportunity for all.
Kenyans are, already known globally for excellence in athletics, IT and tourism. Now, by committing afresh to a unified, long-term national agenda, we must take our rightful place as one of the great nations of the world. As a popular song goes, “When Kenyans run, we run for gold.”
(Kibati is the Director-General of the Vision 2030 Delivery Secretariat)