Why Mark Masai is trending after Uhuru roundtable interview

Wednesday March 18 2020
By EVELYNE MUSAMBI

NTV’s Mark Masai has been trending since the Friday night roundtable interview with President Uhuru Kenyatta.

As President Kenyatta defended his government’s penchant for borrowing, the attention of Kenyans on social media was drawn to Mr Masai’s ‘courageous’ response to the President’s attempt to answer a question with another, an evasive tactic often employed by politicians when confronted with tough questions.

Kenya’s rising debt has been a niggling issue and recent fears over possible loss of the Mombasa port to the Chinese, should the country default on its standard gauge railway (SGR) loan, exacerbated the concerns.

But the Chinese government and Mr Kenyatta have denied the claim that the port was used as collateral for railway funding.

Here is Mr Masai’s conversation with the President:

President Kenyatta: Do you know what the debt of the Japanese government is?

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Mr Masai: I’m not really concerned about Japan.

President Kenyatta: Do you know what the Kenyan debt is?

Mr Masai: As I said, right now it’s something between Sh4.5 and Sh4.8 trillion

President Kenyatta: No, no, no. As a percentage of the GDP [gross domestic product], talk like an economist.

Mr Masai: 56 per cent of the GDP.

President Kenyatta: What is Japan’s debt?

Mr Masai: I’m not in Japan so I’m not interested in Japan but Kenya

President Kenyatta: Japan’s debt is over 100 per cent of the GDP.

Nonetheless, Mr Kenyatta defended his borrowing policy, saying he has no qualms about acquiring credit to fund development projects.

The President also said he was willing to provide journalists with a copy of the contract with China for Kenyans to ascertain that the port was not used as security.