, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 26 – It began with the shuffle, the popular dance step, executed impressively by Jubilee’s candidates, given the nature of the beat.
Thereafter, Deputy President William Ruto followed by President Uhuru Kenyatta walked out and onto the stage to applause, in the fashion of rock stars, before getting down to the serious business of the day: launching their re-election manifesto.
First, they, assisted by a handful of their Cabinet Secretaries, went to great lengths to bring to the public’s attention – all the lenses of the major television stations on them – what they hold to be the greatest accomplishments of their four years in office.
One by one, President Kenyatta ticked off the one stop shop for government services – the Huduma Centres, free maternity, the provision of digital learning devises to class one pupils in public school, government taking off parents’ backs the national exam fees, the two fold increase in the number of homes connected to the electricity grid, the gains made on East African integration and Kenya’s growing influence on the international stage.
“You were told there’d be consequences if you elected me and my deputy (on account of the charges they were facing before the International Criminal Court) but how have things turned out? There isn’t a single country that doesn’t want to visit Kenya or receive me.”
President Kenyatta appeared to go out of his way to explain his official visits to other nations and the loan agreements entered into as essential to developing Kenya’s infrastructure, attracting foreign investment and creating jobs.
He and his deputy thereby appealed on the populace to allow them another five years in office to build on what it is they’d already accomplished.
For instance, the free maternity programme, the Jubilee government has pledged to add to it a one year government funded NHIF medical cover for expectant mothers and to extend the cover to those over 70 years of age.
It has also pledged to create 1.3 million jobs, “up from 800,000,” annually.
President Kenyatta and his deputy would have been remiss not to tackle the elephant in the room that was the maize shortage; they defended the government against accusations made by the Opposition that the elements in government sought to profit from its importation.
“Despite four years of drought we’ve had sufficient reserves which doesn’t point to a lack of planning on our part. And before we resorted to importation, we first mopped up all the maize available locally,” President Kenyatta defended.
He went on to outline how his administration would deal with changing climes including through the construction of 57 dams, the evolution of the strategic grain reserve to a food reserve that would include other sources of nourishment that include meat.
Not too much attention was paid to the controversial Galana Kulalu irrigation project which was a key pillar of their 2013 manifesto and was expected to bring in bags and bags of maize.
Not too much attention was paid to the modern stadia Jubilee pledged to erect in the 2013 either except at the very end when Ruto claimed the Jubilee administration would see nine stadiums put up at the end of their second term assuming a successful re-election bid.
President Kenyatta also took on the Opposition on the subject of housing acknowledging that rents in the country are indeed high but taking a different view as to how to address the housing shortage.
“If re-elected the Jubilee government will Facilitate mass housing production of at least 500,000 affordable homes in five years across the country by working in partnership with financial institutions, private developers, manufacturers of building materials and cooperatives to deliver houses faster and reduce the cost of construction by at least 50 per cent,” the manifesto reads.
“And that’s simple economics by the way, the power of demand and supply,” President Kenyatta added.
The Opposition, the National Super Alliance, launches its manifesto on Tuesday.