FREQUENT FLYER PRESIDENT:9500 MILES AIR TRAVEL WITHOUT JETLAG
How does one travel by air about 9500 miles (15,000 kilometers) for national business that involve high level meetings and not betray effects of jet lag? Ask Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta! He has just flown from Kenya to Malta, then on to France and from there to South Africa.
Malta hosted the meeting of Commonwealth Heads of State and Governments. In France, the president attended the Global Climate Change meeting while in South Africa, he attended the Forum of China and African Countries (FOCAC) meeting during which China pledged $60 billion for Africa.
Since assuming office in 2013, President Kenyatta has travelled far and wide to seek international support for his government’s agenda for Kenya. The country is faced with a weakening shilling and reduced earnings from tourism due to threats of terrorism.
Unemployment and poverty remain high. And, so is the peoples’ hope that President Kenyatta’s government can turn the tide and deliver the much needed goods and services. The magic wand might be Kusema Na Kutenda, the popular campaign slogan of his Jubilee coalition. Seen from this perspective, the urgency of foreign trips by the president is understandable.
But, not everyone is cheering the tireless President Kenyatta. Certainly, not the Opposition. The bullies in the social media have even called him a “tourist president”. And frequent reports of wasteful travel by public officials are not helpful.
A cross section of opinion leaders have called on the president to crack the whip following reports of untamed corruption in both county and national governments. The president responded decisively by dropping ministers and other high ranking officers suspected of graft.
In the ongoing war on corruption, President Kenyatta will score a straight A when and if those charged with abuse of office are convicted and the monies stolen are repossessed and returned to the Treasury. Anything short of that may be seen as too-little, too-late, in a situation where most Kenyans are baying for the blood of bribe takers and bribe givers.
It is true that in President Kenyatta’s third year in office, corruption in government has not reached the mega scale of multi-billion shilling scandals like Goldenberg (during the Moi era) or Anglo-Leasing, during the Kibaki era. That, however, is no consolation. Because any form of corruption bleeds the country and stagnates development in all sectors of society.
For the president and his Jubilee coalition, the timing of the current debate on corruption couldn’t be better. They are a few months past their mid-term. The next general elections will be in 2017, which is just around the corner. And all indications show that Uhuru and Ruto will be seeking a second term.
It is never good politics to face the electorate with the tag of corruption hanging around the necks your government bureaucrats. The Opposition has clearly shown their intention to continue painting the government as corrupt, all the way to 2017, in the hope that, that will win them the State House.
On the other hand, the government’s business is to govern. President Kenyatta’s government has enough time to show it can fight corruption and still deliver measurable projects like currency stabilization, cutting down inflation and bringing jobs, electric power, water, education and healthcare to millions of households across Kenya. That’s the unbeatable strategy for a second term mandate.
by Leonard Njoroge, DM Media Contributor