NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 6 – Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi teed off in the 18-hole Thika Greens Golf Resort while maintaining a sharp eye on where it lands Saturday when he met the Capital FM News crew.
Every time he would birdie, he would raise his fist and then proceed to the next challenge.
As the eyes were on the golf ball, so he is on the 2022 presidential bid and he won’t stop.
Mukhisa resigned last year from the coveted post of Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) to re-enter Kenyan politics having served as a Member of Parliament and Cabinet Minister in former President Mwai Kibaki’s administration.
He is now keen to replace President Uhuru Kenyatta whose second and final term ends next year in what has ignited a major political storm. So far only two candidates have shown serious interest in the seat-Deputy Presiden Willian Ruto and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
While Odinga is banking on support from the current administration and his solid political background, Ruto is selling his bottom-up economic approach having fallen out with his boss over association with the former Prime Minister.
Kituyi said his aims at turning around the fortunes of the country, currently struggling with an economic meltdown lately attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said he also wants to save public resources from massive plundering that has gone on for years.
In 24 hours, Kenya loses at least Sh 2 billion to corruption, according to recent revelations by President Kenyatta.
So is Kituyi a [political] non-starter?
“When I came back from my tour of duty from Geneva, I announced that I was going to do some substantial consultations starting from Western Kenya. Unfortunately, soon as I came from the very successful tour of Western Kenya, the pandemic was spiking in the country and the government suspended large gatherings and super spreader events. We have significantly been casualties of this,” he said.
With the pandemic, he said, he has changed his tact and style of marketing his bid, to ensure he does not become an agent of spreading the disease.
He also spoke on how he intends to revive the country’s shrinking economy, slay the dragon of corruption and eliminate ethnicity if elected.
“We have different characteristics of localized problems, but our problems are very national. There are no solutions to the challenges a Digo is facing without a solution to the challenge of a vulnerable Kikuyu,” Kituyi said.
-The Economic Revival Plan-
While Kenya’s economy has been ailing for a while, the COVID-19 pandemic that struck the country in 2020 worsened the situation.
As a result, thousands of Kenyans and mostly those in the hospitality industry lost their jobs.
Other factors attributed to Kenya’s shrinking economy are reduced working hours and a dramatic decline of international flow in the country and raising public debt.
“We are walking into space with acute economic challenges coming up. It is the responsibility of the next government to show solidarity with the most vulnerable among us,” he pointed out, “We have to address ourselves to the pain of the most vulnerable in the country.”
For him, he said, for Kenya’s economy to be turned around, there must be a custom-made policy to build “enterprise Kenya.”
In a veiled attack on Deputy President Ruto’s hustler narrative, he said all must be involved for the country’s economy to develop.
“I say this clearly because there are some people who are doing the politics of the opposition between the rich and the poor,” Kituyi said, “There is no way you can create livelihood and hope for the poor, without unlocking the power of the rich. The responsibility of the state is to enable enterprise and use tax from them, to cushion the most vulnerable.”
To build the economy, he said, the menace of corruption must be eliminated first.
But how? All politicians seeking the presidency say they have a plan.
“Corruption must be fought top-bottom. We want to fight corruption, but we don’t want to be vindictive,” the presidential hopeful said.
With this, he said, his government will not be stuck to the past but will mostly focus on the future.
“For the last more than 50 years, the Kenyan economy has been a servant of Kenyan politics, it is time for us to now say, Kenyan politics should be a servant of the Kenyan economy,” Kituyi asserted.
-Bottom-up Economy? –
The Deputy President, who is also seeking to be Kenya’s fifth President, has been rooting for a bottom-up approach to the economy.
What will be Kituyi’s approach?
But he said matters economy are more complex than that, dismissing Ruto’s approach as a simplistic route from the reality.
“These are not things that fit in into simplistic of bottom-up or up-bottom. Those are clichés used not to think what you are saying,” he said, “What needs to be done is to say, there are concrete issues on the table which have nothing to do with bottom-up or up-bottom approach.”
For example, he said, unlocking credit access for young entrepreneurs, cannot fit to a model which is simplistically bottom-up.
“Tell this to the people who are peddling this thing, it should not be a substitute to thinking,” he said.
-Is Kituyi a political project? –
On whether he really wants to become a President, or he is being pushed by others, he said “I cannot understand how massive the inducement by whoever would want me to be their project would be for me to make that decision.”
“I am a project of all those Kenyans who firmly believe that Kenya is not limited,” he said.