By Machel Waikenda
Kenya has for long yearned to register an exponential economic path. Undoubtedly, for the last ten years during former president Mwai Kibaki’s administration, the country was anchored on an economic reform path.
On March 4 this year, when the great people of this country voted in the Jubilee government, another milestone and resolve to maintain the country’s economic recovery roadmap was achieved.
A raft of measures contained in the Jubilee Manifesto geared towards promoting the national economy have been outlined, ranging from job creation among the youth, value addition of agricultural products and infrastructural development just to mention a few.
However, in any progressive state positioning itself for economic take off, such growth is not detachable from political goodwill.
Despite the diverse and conflicting political ideologies that may exist, as is the case in any democratic society, creating unity of purpose cannot be over emphasized.
It is about time leaders engaged in constructive criticism in order to give this country the best, a role that can only be achieved through support cutting across the political divide.
It is about time that government and the Opposition worked out an arrangement to ensure Kenyans only get the best of the input of both.
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s rallying call for unity of purpose on issues of national interest and economic growth is encouraging and impressively hopeful of positively changing the political landscape and ironing out the ideological differences in this country.
During the devastating 2008 post-election violence, the country was plunged into anarchy not to mention the despicable political and socio-economic effects that followed and from which the country is yet to fully recover.
Over a thousand people lost lives, hundreds of thousands uprooted from their homes, learning disrupted, properties worth billions looted and more destroyed while investors left in droves putting the country’s economy into a tailspin, invariably tied to politics.
The economic losses registered were immeasurable. Thousands of Kenyans who formerly owned properties they could offer as collateral to access bank loans and other facilities were reduced to beggars.
Thousands of others were rendered jobless due to the high number of businesses shut down and watered the seed of spiralling poverty.
As a country, we can neither run away from these simple facts nor burry heads in the sand on the pretext that we do not require complete transformation of our political culture for the betterment of future generations.
If the political gridlock is not consciously unshackled, it will continue impacting negatively on the Kenyan economy to the unforeseen future.
Just like in 2008, a political settlement is needed. This is the only way our leaders can show patriotism and cultivate sense of belonging among the 40 million-strong populace.
This transformation would remain elusive if leaders remain mired in the practice of blunt politics to settle political scores to the detriment of national interest.
Commendably, the Kenyatta administration has opened up to the Opposition seeking to work together to enhance service delivery to Kenyans.
More encouraging is the government’s consistency in keeping things above board and open to public scrutiny. This has been evident in appointments to public office, a refreshing and complete departure from the past.
The goodwill to offer Kenyans what is due to them is visible. The opposition has occasionally reciprocated this notwithstanding entrenched bipartisanship.
Slowly, but ever so surely, the building blocks of a strong national economic and strategic resurgence are quietly moving into place.
It is on this premise that one million jobs can be generated for our majority youths and power the economy. The youth comprise the majority population of this country not to mention the vast untapped expertise they possess.
To ensure there is no economic waste of these talents or possible misuse of the immense knowledge, it is prudent to ensure that this critical mass of citizens, who are major drivers of change are absorbed into active employment, directly and indirectly.
The trickle-down effects will eliminate crime and other socio-economic vices associated with unemployment and poverty.
To achieve such transformation in setting a strong foundation for substantial economic reform and set the country’s agenda towards the right direction, joint political and economic reforms are inevitable.
This will anchor the country in a position to enjoy a surge in regional and international goodwill that stands to drastically lift country’s economic growth potential.
Kenya’s capacity as a regional and international commercial hub is amplified by the strategic position as a regional transit point through modern airports and the all-important and centuries-old, preferred port of call of Mombasa.
Clear policy articulation will automatically enhance investor confidence while the contra effect of heightened political differences will work negatively.
However, the role of opposition and dissenting views must be given its rightful position to exert proper checks and balances against the government.
If Kenyans employ and manage a proper balance of priorities and converge these with political interest, they would undoubtedly see partners beating a path to their door. Economic growth generates higher incomes, which should make people approve of government, as growth generates stability.
(The writer is the TNA Director of Communications. Twitter @MachelWaikenda)