Sunday, July 21, 2024

Hard road ahead for Uhuru and Ruto

Acid test for Jubilee’s pair first term.Kenya: Since assuming power, President Uhuru Kenyatta, like his father after independence, has hard to face the serious challenge of setting up a new administration under a fresh constitution while maintaining continuity and stability.

But political realities facing him and his deputy MrWilliam Ruto are far from the euphoric and triumphant mood that welcomed Mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s rule.

The situation is compounded by the international community’s reaction to pair’s crimes against humanity charges at The Hague.

At the same time, much as they were welcomed into power by renewed confidence that given their youthfulness and ‘digital’ approach to management of public affairs, they would outdo their predecessors, some problems inherited from the previous regimes are proving trickier and harder to resolve fast.

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It does not help that like in the case of industrial action such as the just-ended teachers’ strike, the country expects a quick and permanent solution, at a time when the public wage bill is a crushing burden to the new administration.

It is against this background of too many promises, high expectations among Kenyans, and the reality that some problems facing Kenyans would take time to resolve, that analysts now project that an even bumpier and harder road awaits Uhuru and Ruto.

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It will test their leadership skills to the limit, and if they succeed, send them down in history as the leaders who rose to the expectations of a country torn for years by corruption, tribalism and mismanagement of public affairs.

The Jubilee Government, which started its fifth month in office on August 8, has grappled with issues ranging from a protracted teachers’ strike, agitation for salary increment by civil servants, legislators and members of County Assemblies, demands for larger financial allocations by county governments and a newly energised opposition.

Another headache is the insecurity that rocked parts of the country as the National Police Service Commission and Inspector General David Kimaiyo engaged in turf wars.

The wave of insecurity raged as officers of the restructured provincial administration and elected county leaders engaged in a war of supremacy.

Political analysts liken the challenges facing the Uhuru presidency to those faced by his father when he had to grapple with the Shifta insurgency in North Eastern Province alongside political instability and prospects of a military revolt.

But most worrying must be the International Criminal Court charges which will in September and November make Uhuru and Ruto the first sitting President and Deputy President to stand trial in The Hague’s dock.

Even before completing a week in office, Uhuru was confronted with an uprising from MPs who were demanding the reinstatement of the high salaries the members of 10th Parliament were earning.

Though the MPs were fighting the Salaries Review Commission (SRC), Uhuru and Ruto were forced to intervene.

After the MPs came teachers, who were demanding that the government fulfills promises made by previous governments.

Uhuru had to personally intervene to end the teachers’ strike by ordering the Teachers Service Commission to pay the teachers their July salary.

At one point the President showed his exasperation with the increased demands for higher salaries when he said on national television, “I cannot borrow money to pay salaries.”

Faced with the difficult choices, Uhuru recently revealed that most of his problems were inherited and not of his making. “My government is still very young and people should stop faulting me. I inherited most of these problems,” the President told a public meeting at Narasha in Narok County a fortnight ago.

Prof Macharia Munene, who teaches History at the United States International University, argues the Jubilee Government appears to be overwhelmed, a situation that is not good for Uhuru’s future.

“Uhuru should put his house in order and stop playing bad politics. He seems overwhelmed and if is he is not careful, the country will come to a standstill. It will politically damage his presidency as the Opposition will be pointing out his weaknesses,” he went on.

But Prof Adams Oloo differs with Munene’s assessment that Uhuru looks overwhelmed, arguing that the Jubilee government is playing a transitional role into the new devolved system of government.

Prof Oloo says a transitional presidency is always difficult: “This is a transitional presidency because Uhuru has to implement the new Constitution which has denied him some powers because of devolution and independent Cabinet Secretaries.”

The increased expenditure on devolution has raised the wage bill to 13 per cent of the GDP meaning the government could use more on recurrent expenditure at the expense of

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