Why Uhuru Kenyatta deserves second term as President

No president, in history, has been able to complete 100 percent of all his or her pre-election or manifesto pledges. Some even more than the prescribed two terms to complete most items in their first manifesto.

What happens is that they would then rely on the political goodwill of their successor to complete the projects they kick off while in office. Actually, they spend their first year in office aligning their pre-election promises with the already existing projects that were started by their predecessors.

Consider the example of a politician who is extremely popular here in Kenya – US President Barack Obama.

To date, President Obama, despite making progress, is yet to close Guantanamo bay, a promise he made in 2008 when he was elected for his first term. Obama responsibly ended the war in Iraq and promised to end the war in Afghanistan in 2014. However, in October 2015, he delayed the US forces withdrawal from Afghanistan, again.

Obama also abandoned a promise to direct revenues from offshore oil and gas drilling to increase coastal hurricane protection. As he prepares to end his second term, Obama is yet to achieve his promise of ensuring that 10 percent of US electricity comes from renewable sources by 2012 and 25 percent by 2025 and establish a low national carbon-fuel standard.

These are facts well worth bearing in mind, when judging whether or not a presidential candidate deserves the continued confidence of his countrymen.

For here in Kenya, with one and a half year to the end of his first term, President Uhuru Kenyatta is set to miss on some of his promises. However, it is important to note that a lot of the promises made in the Jubilee manifesto have already kicked off even as the President ensures that the projects by the previous governments are ongoing.

As we move to the next election period, a lot of people will want to place a blot on the President’s achievements by revisiting the manifesto. But even as we do so, we must be open to the logical conclusion that it is not about whether he achieved a perfect record, but whether he will have kicked off and completed most of them.

As we are all aware, the government has already ensured that the implementation of the pilot project for the laptops for schools program has kicked off. The 150 schools that will pilot the program have already been selected and the suppliers given the go-ahead.

Ensuring the successful implementation of devolution was another key promise by President Kenyatta and which is going on well. The basic principle of devolution and the teething problems that cropped up at the start have continuously been addressed.

The promise of ensuring that more Kenyans are connected to electricity is on course and more people have joined the national grid in the last three years than the 49 years since independence. The last batch of primary schools is set to be connected to the national grid by the end of April.

Expansion of infrastructure development that kicked off during the Kibaki era has continued with earnest. The Standard Gauge Railway is 65 percent complete, while the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport has new terminals and there are three new berths at the Port of Mombasa.

The contracts for new 3,000 kilometres of tarmac roads have already been signed while other airports around the country have been renovated.

President Kenyatta also promised that his government would work to create at least one million jobs every year. Though this has not been achieved, the economy generated a total of 742,300 new jobs in both the formal and informal sectors in 2013 and 799,000 in 2014.

Jubilee had aimed at an economic growth of 7 to 10 per cent and though this has not been achieved, it can be attributed to a slowdown in the global economy which has seen sub-Saharan Africa growing at around 3.5 and 4 percent. The World Bank estimates that Kenya’s economy will grow at 5.4 percent in 2015, 5.7 percent for 2016 and 6.2 percent for 2017.

The President also promised to deal with runaway corruption in the country and we have seen some progress in this area. Other than personally sacking Cabinet Secretaries who have been implicated in corruption, there are over 400 cases of corruption before the courts.

There is good reason to be optimistic that a lot more will be achieved in the remaining time. And with all this work in progress, President Uhuru Kenyatta deserves a second term that will ensure that he completes the promises he made.

(The writer is a political and communications consultant. Twitter @MachelWaikenda)

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