On February 28, President Kenyatta formed a task force to deal with a possible outbreak of Covid-19. The 21-member team, to be led by Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe, was to coordinate Kenya’s preparedness, prevention and response to the threat of the new coronavirus disease.
This meant the fight was to be driven by teamwork. But as it is, some Cabinet secretaries have failed to deliver on their mandate. A casual look at the government is indicative of CSs and other top civil servants who are not helping the President to deliver on his mandate and at the same time mitigate the pandemic’s effects.
The public enemies slowing the Covid-19 war are not only those flouting the containment measures, but also economic saboteurs who don’t implement government directives.
Many Kenyans want the President to reorganise his Cabinet, which doesn’t seem to fully support his agenda. A sizeable number of CSs are either lazy, saboteurs or grossly incompetent. The President should expeditiously replace them with a people-centred team.
These key appointments should be given to serious individuals to inspire hope and spur development. The reshuffle must be done in a way that gives community leaders, sectoral stakeholders and even political parties a chance to recommend who to appoint.
A shake-up would give the President and his government countrywide presence and visibility. The stage is set for the formation of a government of national unity as President Kenyatta races against time to implement his legacy projects, the ‘Big Four Agenda’, and fight the global pandemic.
In this line, he should consult widely with key stakeholders in government and political circles to achieve consensus that could lead to formation of a government full of credible men and women focused on delivering their public mandate. Kenyans deserve and desire a clean government.
It’s the President’s sole prerogative to do whatever he wishes in his government in terms of restructuring it. The faster he delivers on that, the better. CSs and principal secretaries whose dockets are tainted by corruption, incompetence and lacklustre performance should be the first casualties of the reorganisation.
Like many other governments, Kenya faces unprecedented challenges from Covid-19. The strain on the government is extreme and the impact on the people continues to grow.
This crisis can only be solved through partnerships. Even though the government and its local and global partners has stepped up efforts to combat it but, worryingly, the efforts are being negated by saboteurs and profiteers.
In addition to arresting curfew violators, can we also go for economic saboteurs who cannot effect the President’s directive on two per cent VAT cut? It’s interesting that, months after the VAT reduction was announced, many retailers have not amended the prices of essential commodities.
Some civil servants are not reading from the same script with the President when it comes to the war on the pandemic. For instance, not all government officials have complied with the President’s directive to settle all pending bills to increase liquidity and cushion traders against Covid-19 vagaries.
The measures to mitigate the human and socioeconomic toll require bold actions by political leaders. For example, flattening the coronavirus curve requires twin efforts: Reducing the spread of infections and boosting capacities of healthcare systems.
The government has taken the first step courageously, imposing curfews and lockdowns. The second requires not just focus on curative, facilities-based health delivery, but primary healthcare capacity at the community level.
Kenya has some of the most pampered politicians. Technically, they are accountable to the people, but, in reality, to no one. While they are paid a huge salary, they have devised ways to extract extra money for anything they do. What the public gain in return is not always clear.
Serving his last term and keen on leaving a legacy, the President needs civil servants and political leaders who will put aside politics and self-interest and serve Kenyans. Shockingly, even the ruling Jubilee Party leadership in Parliament can refuse to back the President.
Before the President acted, there was concern on the parliamentary leadership and that of committees. Indeed, there is a glimmer of hope after the President “sanitised” the party’s leadership in Parliament and parliamentary committees as it had failed him.
Indeed, it’s time the President rid his house of officials who add little or no value to his national agenda.
Mr Masava is a communication specialist. [email protected]