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Don’t trivialise debate on new banknotes, says Alfred Mutua

Thursday June 6 2019

Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua

Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua speaks to traders during a tour of the Machakos Retail Market on June 6, 2019. He hit out at critics of the new Kenyan currency, saying the untimely debate on trivial issues is chocking the anticipation of the introduction of the new banknotes. PHOTO | BRIAN OKINDA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

BRIAN OKINDA
By BRIAN OKINDA
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Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua has hit out at critics of the new Kenyan currency, saying the untimely debate on trivial issues is chocking the anticipation of the introduction of the new banknotes.

At the same time, Dr Mutua defended the use of an image of first president Jomo Kenyatta’s statue on the notes, saying there is nothing wrong with the currency notes depicting Kenyan heroes.

The governor argued that the value of any money lies not in the pictures or colours it bears, but rather its purchasing power, citing the US dollar, which he said is not strong because it has George Washington’s portrait on it, but rather because its value is high.

STATUE, NOT PORTRAIT

He spoke Thursday during a visit and inspection tour of the Machakos Retail Market.

He clarified that a statue is different from a portrait.

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“There is a difference between a statue and a portrait. What we have on the new notes is a statue of our founding father Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Would the people complaining be okay if, for instance, it was a statue of a lion or a giraffe? Are those animals more important than the founding father of the nation and other heroes?” he asked.

He said that like any other founding fathers of other African nations, Mzee Kenyatta is in history books as a hero who cannot be wished away.

HEROES

A society that chooses to bash and disregard those who transformed it from colonial imperialism to the freedom that they enjoy today is, according to him, a doomed society.

“What we should be discussing is, let us have different statues of our other heroes on different notes such as Tom Mboya, Paul Ngei, Dedan Kimathi, Wangari Maathai, Oginga Odinga and others,” said Dr Mutua.

Kenyans, he said, should redirect their energy towards building a solid economy and, therefore, a strong international currency through a robust Kenyan shilling that can trade internationally and one whose purchasing power is felt by citizens as they grow richer.

STRONG CURRENCY

A strong currency means better wages and enhanced quality of life, he added.

The Machakos governor, who has declared his intention to seek for the presidency in 2022, said the myriad of challenges facing Kenyans do not afford them the luxury of engaging in simplistic issues.

“With the challenges we face in our country, ranging from high unemployment rates, lack of money in circulation, runaway corruption, trade imbalance and polarised politics, what we need is to up our game or we, forever, will remain a third world country,” he said.

Activist Okiya Omtata and East African Legislative Assembly MP Simon Mbugua have moved to court to challenge the introduction of the new currency notes, terming them unconstitutional as they supposedly bear the image of Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.