The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: What Uhuru's TNA Launch Failed to Capture

opinion

Photo: Ministry of Finance
Kenya Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta

Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Eugene Wamalwa gave good speeches during the launch of The National Alliance party. In Mombasa, Prime Minister Raila Odinga and his deputy Musalia Mudavadi held parallel rallies and, like Uhuru in Nairobi, promised to do many things if elected president.

It is however surprising that on such an important occasion as launching of a new party, Uhuru failed to come out clearly on the two most important issues today - jobs and housing. Uhuru did not tell the country how many jobs his government will create for Kenyans. He talked a lot about the youth but he did not tell them how he will create jobs for them.

Kenyans below 45 constitute more than 70 per cent of the population. Of this figure, more than 60 per cent are victims of open involuntary unemployment. This nation must find a way of creating more than one million quality jobs a year. Failure to do so might lead to violent protests after the next general election. TNA failed to address itself adequately to the plight of farmers. Like it was noted at the World Economic Forum-Africa in South Africa, most farmers operate small plots, so the best way to create sustainable income is to organise them into value-adding co-operative societies. This would integrate them into the value-chain.

TNA did not even mention anything to do with housing. There is a compelling need for the government to directly intervene in the housing sector to free the middle class from rental expenses and build savings for investment. The Kibaki administration is already doing it but only for civil servants using the tenant-purchase scheme whereby you move into a house and pay rent as mortgage so that as a tenant you will end up owning the house upon completion of the mortgage. This scheme should be expanded to accommodate all citizens.

TNA failed to expound on industrialisation. Organised groups like "chamas" should be encouraged to start small industries by government guaranteeing cost of importing machinery. Banks financing importation of machinery for the groups should obtain security guarantees from the Treasury on behalf of the organised groups that should deposit savings into the banks. That is how the Africans in Kenya will eventually industrialise.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the government operated the Import Substitution Scheme that benefited Asians mainly because Africans did not have money. That is why most industries in Kenya are virtually owned by Indo-Pakistanis. Uhuru should intervene in the issue of Kenya Planters Cooperative Union to stop it going down the drain.

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