The Jubilee coalition, now Jubilee Party, rode to power on a youthful and digital agenda. Their main appeal to voters was the promise to usher in a new era in which delivery on key promises was guaranteed. Embedded in youthfulness was promise for renewal in governance. The bromance between Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto symbolised this promise and was consummated in the merger of their names into UhuRuto.
But the Jubilee administration has largely been high on talk. They have preferred to fake their achievements. Admittedly, there are small and easy things any government in its first term must achieve. The digitisation of key government services is one. Some mega-projects like roads pre-date Jubilee while the standard gauge railway can only captivate an uneducated eye. The spread of mega-malls and related infrastructure could qualify for achievement in private enterprise.
Yet, it is the very bad economist who would laud these projects and ignore the long-term effect on our economy of the debt burden Jubilee has unleashed. Further, it is simply bad governance that ensures that the economy does well while the people do very badly.
The importance of economic growth does not only rest in annual measures of growth measures of the gross domestic product. It rests in how the measures translate for ordinary people, whether they can access basics like food, water, health care, security and affordable education.
The prices of basic foods have grown under the Jubilee administration while drought persistently ravages some regions of Kenya. The same regions like Baringo remain hotbeds of insecurity. The Jubilee administration has touted the delivery of equipment in hospitals as a major achievement but forgotten that the cost of health care precludes many Kenyans from accessing that equipment.
Doctors have been on strike for months and all the Jubilee administration has afforded us are bellicose responses. The decorum that the presidency deserves is periodically assaulted by the abuses the President reserves for people who raise legitimate questions around governance. In a country with a progressive constitution and where institutions of governance are decentralised, the President can only abuse in vain.
On devolution, Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga excused Jubilee as the pioneer administration that was likely to make mistakes. But failure is acceptable if it is not intentional. With respect to implementing key constitutional provisions, the Jubilee has done so grudgingly. Whether it is devolution, leadership and integrity or the two-thirds gender principle, this administration has repeatedly been double-faced.
Jubilee has been unwilling to fully devolve governance. They not only seek the old centralised control over security apparatuses but they have also instituted a parallel framework of administration within counties in the name of Regional and County Commissioners. With respect to the two-thirds gender principle, the Jubilee administration has sought to stall the processes using a range of unconvincing excuses like the wage bill and proceeded with a largely male-heavy framework.
But by far the greatest of Jubilee failings has been with respect to leadership and integrity. Under Jubilee, corruption has hit an all-time high in Kenya. Even the President publicly acknowledged inability to address it. One gets the feeling that mega-projects might have been conduits for fuelling corruption. To fight corruption, the top leadership must demonstrate firm hate of the corrupt.
Godwin Murunga teaches development studies at the University of Nairobi.