The Star (Nairobi)

2 February 2013

Kenya: Cord Manifesto - Raila, Kalonzo Promise to Take Back 'Stolen Land'

Dealing with land and historical injustices is top in Coalition of Reform and Democracy (Cord) manifesto but this may be a hard sell with claims that they will be targeting certain people and families.

Yet the Cord principles argue that nothing could be further from the truth. According to Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, who is the running mate to Raila Odinga in Cord, those spreading such rumours are simply playing politics in an attempt to discredit a winning team.

During the launch of the Cord manifesto, a blue print that thrives a lot on generalisations, with little or no specifics, on Monday at the KICC, Kalonzo denied that it would be their policy to dispossess people of their land.

"We are not planning to dispossess anybody of land rightfully possessed and we shall respect the sanctity of the land titles," he said, explaining that the Cord government wants all idle land put to economic use.

But Kalonzo and Raila have often times mentioned the Kenyatta family, which owns huge chunks of undeveloped land in various parts of the country.

In fact, Raila and Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang'ula attack lines on Jubilee presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta and his family has been the unexplained source of their wealth, including land, which the Cord team claims is almost the size of Nyanza province.

"Some people are hacking each other for a quarter an acre yet some individuals own almost an entire province. A tiny minority has marched forward in wealth and power but an overwhelming majority has been left behind, marching backwards into deeper poverty and more misery. This country will not be changed by hypocrites but by democrats," Raila said on Monday at the launch of the Cord manifesto dubbed 'Unleashing Kenya's potential'.

In 2009, Uhuru's running mate William Ruto said Raila was a man driven by an urge to seize the private properties of Kenyans without regard to the sanctity of the title deed.

This was after the Cabinet, which ironically had Ruto as a member, passed a resolution to reclaim the water towers in the country. Ruto accused Prime Minister Raila of displacing members of his Kalenjin community.

Any thorough-bred political scientist would tell you that allowing your opponent space to define you is the biggest political mistake one can do, and Mitt Romney learnt it the bitter way in the last US elections against President Obama.

It means you will perpetually campaign on the defensive and that is where Raila has found himself, in regard to land issues, even though Uhuru has been, to be very fair to him, very lethargic and weak in his response.

Even after Cord released its manifesto; none of the other campaigns came out to say a thing about it. Instead, it was only a day later after Peter Kenneth was cleared by the IEBC that he made a feeble response, stating that "we cannot expect the same players to bring change" and suggesting that he was looking forward to the first ever presidential debate in the country slated for February 11 to explain his own ideas, and perhaps discredit his opponents' plans.

The ten-point Cord manifesto prioritises jobs, promises to build an economy that works for all, dealing with historical injustices and ensuring the rule of law.

It explains how a Cord government will transform the economy, improve livelihoods, fight corruption and promote national reconciliation

"The Coalition for Reforms and Democracy is committed to the realisation of a Kenyan society founded on popular democracy and social justice, where all citizens enjoy equal political, economic and socio-cultural rights and live in harmony and unity," the Cord vision states.

The Cord leaders promised to create a million jobs a year, ensure food security, national security, participatory and transparent government, poverty alleviation, ensuring equal opportunities for all, free and compulsory education from nursery to secondary level, and better terms of service for teachers.

"The Cord government will lay the foundation for Kenya to move within two decades from being a poor and dependent nation to being a productive and self-sustaining economy, paving the way to jobs and dignified lives for all," the promise on job states.

And to create jobs, the manifesto states that the government will take one major industry to each county and establish a 24-hour economy in major urban centres. In addition, they promise to provide banks and other financial institutions with incentives so that they can finance industries that create jobs.

"Cord will open branches of Kenya Industrial Estates all over the country to support and develop new business concerns (and) enhance the use of ICT for increased productivity and efficiency and to make Kenya into an information society," their campaign blueprint states.

Raila also pledged to fully implement the constitution and Vision 2030, create a conducive environment for investors, and restructure youth and women funds by introducing much cheaper credit as well as to encourage investors to move to other urban centres such as Kakamega, Garissa and Meru.

"We shall also create industries under the One Village One Product programme. Each village in Kenya has unique resources. We shall convert these sources of income through value-addition, and have the resulting goods marketed nationally and internationally," Raila said.

Their focus on the agricultural sector, they stated, would be to transform it by introducing livestock insurance, subsidies for farm inputs, strengthen cooperative movement and promote value-addition in agriculture to ensure food surplus.

At present, the manifesto states, crop production is mainly rain-fed with only two per cent of crop-land under irrigation, making the sector susceptible to inclement weather and variable yields from year to year.

Raila also pledged to "ensure diligent and careful exploitation of our oil resources, and our iron ore will immediately be put to use producing steel for equitable exploitation of natural resources."

He also pledged to carry on with President Kibaki's legacy of improving infrastructure, by devoting 10 per cent of the GDP to capital expenditure, including roads, new rail lines along the LAPSSET corridor, develop light railway lines linking major urban centres and increase access to electricity.

"Cord will attract increased private sector investment in infrastructure development and management. (We) will also promote transparency in the management of and public access to land information." Cord promised to take care of the poor, the vulnerable, the orphaned and the aged by establishing programmes which will look after their welfare.

The manifesto that was launched at a ceremony at the KICC on Monday also states that the coalition's commitment to transform the police force and other security agencies to make them responsive to emerging threats to peace and security.

Many crimes, the booklet states, are linked to poverty, poor policing, land issues, cattle rustling and extortion by criminal gangs. And to deal with the security threats, Cord pledged to introduce a Directorate of Criminal Investigation as a semi-autonomous agency delinked from national police command, extensive use of CCTV, strengthen community policing and fastrack police reforms.

The manifesto also states, without getting into the specifics, that the Cord government would develop a strategy to strengthen response to terrorism and militia groups and the emerging challenges of cyber crime. On health sector reforms, the Cord principles pledged to introduce a universal national health insurance scheme and extend health education and concentrate on preventive health care.

The manifesto also states that there will be deliberate shift to train more doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers as well as improve their terms and conditions of service.

The other highlight on health sector is the pledge to provide quality maternal healthcare in the country. Wetang'ula assured the provincial administration that it will not be abolished under the Cord government but will be reformed accordingly. He also pledged equitable distribution of diplomatic appointments to all communities based on merit. Cord's 10-point programme

1. Creation of a million jobs a year

2. Ensuring food security by promoting irrigation agriculture

3. Reforming national police and ensuring security for all

4. People-led government

5. Poverty alleviation and reducing the cost of living

6. Social equality

7. Infrastructure development and land reforms

8. Quality education

9. Focusing on improving access to preventive and maternal healthcare, training healthcare workers and improving the terms and conditions of service for healthcare workers

10. National reconciliation and healing

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