Star (Kenya)

Jun. 26, 2017, 12:30 am


President Uhuru Kenyatta address Meru residents on Saturday, June 24, 2017. /PSCU
President Uhuru Kenyatta address Meru residents on Saturday, June 24, 2017. /

President Uhuru Kenyatta will today unveil an eight-key pillar reelection manifesto in an aggressive scramble for the 19 million voters against NASA presidential candidate Raila Odinga.

Buoyed by what his strategists call “a four-year Jubilee success story” Uhuru and Deputy President William Ruto – who rode to State House on jumbo pledges -hope to reinvent themselves to parry a sustained opposition onslaught.

Raila is expected to unveil his election blueprint tomorrow to counter Jubilee’s.

The President will today highlight his track record and point out the work in progress on whose scorecard he seeks woo Kenyans for another term in office.

Key proposals in Jubilee’s reelection plank include the promise of Free Secondary Education starting January next year, expansion of the Standard Gauge Railway from Naivasha to Malaba, increasing the penetration of electricity to remote areas and more jobs for the youth.

Quality, affordable and adequate urban housing, free medical cover for the elderly above 70 years, expansion of irrigation that includes placing the botched Galana Kulalu scheme under public/private partnership to maximise returns and making government services accessible to all Kenyans.

“There is nothing spectacularly new about our manifesto, ours is the continuation of what we started in 2013, the train has taken off and we want to tell Kenyans that it is too late to disembark,” said Jubilee party vice chairman David Murathe.

Murathe, a key figure in the presidential campaign team, said today’s ceremony will be a media affair without much fanfare and elaborate pomp and colour.

Forty-three days to the August 8 polls, NASA’s Raila and his brigade have opened an avalanche of accusations on the ruling party, blaming Uhuru and Ruto for reneging on their 2013 mega campaign pledges.

Today, Uhuru and Ruto will attempt to reignite and rejuvenate their millions of supporters with a more ruthless and flaming blueprint on whose contents they want a social contract to occupy State House for the next five years.

During his swearing in at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, on April 9, 2013, the son of the country’s founding father promised ‘heaven on earth’ – to take Kenya forward socially, politically and economically.

Amid much pomp and colour, Uhuru, then elected on The National Alliance (TNA) ticket, promised free maternity healthcare to all women within 100 days of taking office and free laptops to school-going children, beginning 2014.

However, the promised but aborted transformation of Kenya’s economic growth by double digits, multibillion-shilling corruption scandals, and unprecedented skyrocketting food prices, have been the hallmark of Uhuru’s four-and-a-half-year administration.

Uhuru and Ruto had a number of ambitious and exciting promises that saw them ascend to the presidency by more than 6 million votes against then Cord leader Raila Odinga.

However, Jubilee’s unfulfilled manifesto promises due to numerous mega controversies, infighting and bickering have attracted criticism not only from the opposition but also independent political analysts and economists.

NASA flagbearer Raila, for instance, bashed the Uhuru administration for “overspending, over-borrowing and over-stealing” during its first term.

Jubilee pledged to end the perennial problem of corruption in the country. Its manifesto promised, “cleaning up the Government by introducing some of the toughest anti-corruption legislation in the world”.

The war on graft has, however, remained a thorn in the flesh of the Jubilee administration often accused of turning its guns against independent and constitutional offices such as the Auditor-General’s.

“Although the government has said it has recovered some of the looted funds, the fact is that some names mentioned in public media have been cleared to contest in the coming election, while some remain in public office. This half-hearted action will yield no fruit,” said Catholic clerics led by the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops’ chairman, Philip Anyolo.

Jubilee has been hit by high-flying corruption scandals, including the infamous ‘Hustler’s Jet’, whose inquiry report was watered down in Parliament; the Sh1.9 billion National Youth Service scam, according to a special audit, and the Youth Enterprise and Development Fund, among other scams.

In the Jubilee manifesto to be unveiled today in a jamboree at the Kasarani Stadium, the word “Transformation” features prominently, as does provision of Free Secondary Education, highlighted as Uhuru’s major reelection plank against a resurgent opposition.

With FSE taking the forefront of Uhuru’s reelection promises, the government wants to leverage on this to achieve 100 per cent transition from primary to secondary school, under the slogan “Free education for all”.

The provision of free secondary education is one of the priority targets President Kenyatta wants to accomplish in his second term.

While NASA has also promised to deliver FSE within a month of taking office, Uhuru has said the new plan will be rolled out smoothly, given the gradual increments in funding levels for the education sector in terms of capitation as well as allocations for school infrastructure.

Capitation is the amount of money government pays for each student in school.

“One of the reasons we are seeking reelection is to implement our plan to make secondary education completely free from next year, to reduce the burden on parents to educate their children,” said the President on Saturday, campaigning in Meru.

Only Sh5 billion has been included in the 2017/18 national budget to improve and expand schools’ infrastructure across the country, meaning that Jubilee will have to come up with a Supplementary Budget to effect this plan.

With about 2.2 million students in secondary school in 2016, the Government allocated Sh32.7 billion to cater to subsidise secondary education, up from Sh28 billion it paid out for the same purpose the previous year.

In 2013, free laptops for primary pupils within 100 days of entering office was Uhuru’s magnificent promise that excited voters and propelled Jubilee to power. The project was to cost taxpayers Sh24.6 billion.

However, this project experienced a myriad of challenges in procurement, including graft allegations, forcing the government to give away cheaper tablets two years after taking office.

Jubilee pledged to increase the schools in disadvantaged areas and restrict class sizes to a maximum of 40 countrywide. They also pledged to establish a national water-harvesting policy in every village or estate as part of a five-year investment plan.

The mandarins working on the Jubilee Manifesto have been cautious to balance between a resigned population overburdened by basic commodity scarcity and prices hikes.

In Uhuru’s reelection plan, strategists have included the expansion of the Standard Gauge Railway, the Jubilee signature infrastructure project, from Naivasha to Busia as one of the ruling part’s most ambitious projects if reelected.

The Sh337 billion Mombasa-Nairobi project has been hit by claims of corruption, with opposition leaders accusing Jubilee of having inflated its cost by a staggering Sh100 billion.

Raila has accused Uhuru of diverting the original SGR design to Naivasha, allegedly for personal business interests, at the expense of the country.

The SGR will the link Uganda at the Busia border to boost transportation of goods across the two nations and the region.

In a momentous campaign strategy to woo the youth -the country’s single largest vote bloc – Jubilee is promising to create 100,000 jobs annually through the graduate internship programme or paid apprenticeship.

Under this programme, all graduates from universities and technical training institutes will be absorbed by government and the private sector. This will complement the government’s ‘Ajira’ job initiative that enables the youth to access up to a million available jobs online.

Five new national sports stadia in Kisumu, Mombasa, Nakuru, Eldoret and Garissa has been elusive, despite numerous promises, however, the upgrade of existing sporting facilities in some counties to accommodate swimming, tennis, basketball and rugby has been ongoing.