, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 12 – Kenya will significantly overcome its challenges when devolution fully takes effect and counties play their role in development, President Uhuru Kenyatta has said.
The President noted that counties are the new centres of growth, resource mobilisation and utilisation.
“The 47 counties must catalytically revamp our development as they embrace a strait of healthy competition in their development initiatives,” he said.
The Head of State was addressing the nation from the Safaricom Stadium at Kasarani in Nairobi when he led the nation in celebrating the Golden Jubilee anniversary of the country’s independence.
President Kenyatta said he was impressed by initiatives taken by some county governments to attract investors and mobilise local investment in their counties.
He encouraged every Kenyan to take a key interest and invest in their home county.
“This will ensure that our young people have meaningful work to do and thus have no energy left to engage in undesirable social activities,” President Kenyatta said.
He said Kenyans who have excelled in various fields should regularly visit their rural communities and engage with primary and secondary school students to serve as role models and mentors for the young people.
On the discovery of mineral resources in the country, President Kenyatta said his Government is working on policies to guide their exploitation to avoid the pitfalls of other mineral rich countries where they have caused environmental degradation, conflict and social decay.
He said the National Government will collaborate with county governments where the minerals have been discovered to ensure that accruing benefits reach the local population.
“We have, in this regard, developed a framework covering the mining, processing and sale of the minerals. And we are committed to strictly abiding with that framework,” he said.
The President warned those inciting local populations to violence in areas where minerals have been discovered, saying the full force of the law will be used against them.
He said legitimate concerns and grievances should be resolved through peaceful means as violence and chaos will not benefit anybody.
“Violence will only undermine the full exploitation of those resources and therefore delay the developmental benefits that we all should enjoy,” he said.
The President disclosed that his administration is taking radical steps to help the country grow faster and is committed to pursuing a new brand of politics that will foster an open, tolerant and hardworking Kenya with modern institutions adhering to good governance.
He said all leaders must be ready to be held accountable for their actions and urged Kenyans to scrutinize their leaders and question their performance and character.
“My Government in collaboration with Kenyans will get tough with those who use their positions of power to acquire ill-gotten wealth,” the President said.
He directed the now fully constituted Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission to utilise its constitutionally given mandate to investigate and bring to book all those involved in corruption.
In the meantime, the President called on all Kenyans not to give bribes or participate in corrupt activities.
On integration, President Kenyatta said Kenya’s national interest is anchored on regional and continental integration.
In order to enhance the integration momentum, President Kenyatta announced that Kenya will contribute to a brigade to be part of the Rapid Response mechanism as part of the Africa Peace and Security Architecture agreed during the last Assembly of AU Heads of State and Government.
He said Kenya will also champion the free movement of persons on the continent.
“Today, we announce that any African passport will obtain a visa on arrival in Kenya based on a principle of reciprocity. Under these arrangements, any African visitor may stay for up to six months. The only exception to this rule will be when regional security could be compromised,” he said.
The President said Kenya is ready to partner with countries in the southern, central, western and northern regions, to fast-track the implementation of the recently adopted Continental Free Trade Area.