11 August 2017

Kenya: Kudos to Uhuru, Now the Hard Work Begins

Photo: Ruth Mbula/Daily Nation
President Uhuru Kenyatta addressing supporters in July.
editorial

President Uhuru Kenyatta has got a new mandate to lead this country for another five years.

This comes after months of intense campaigns, filled with emotions and high expectations. Indeed, the final hours to the declaration were extremely dramatic and tense.

In democracy, the voice of the majority carries the day. As a country that believes in the rule of law and subscribes to democratic ideals, we must accept that the will of the people has prevailed.

Legitimate questions have been raised about the credibility of the results; but we argue that these should be addressed within the right institutions, namely, the courts.

Never should election outcomes be reason for bloodshed and chaos.

Politics should not divide us. Citizens must rise above incitement and keep their calm. Elections are not a matter of life and death.

VICTORY

Kenyans have spoken and we congratulate President Kenyatta for his electoral victory.

At the same time, we urge the National Super Alliance and its leadership, which fought a good fight, to accept the outcomes, however painful; one had to win and the other lose.

It is not the end of everything; they will live to fight another day.

But this is the beginning of the hard path. Kenya is coming out of the election divided and egos bruised.

About half of the population feels the pain of electoral loss and are unsure of their place in the incoming government.

The first task for President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto is to unify Kenyans.

And this must be through demonstrable words and actions. Winners must be magnanimous.

POLITICS

The reason why our politics is vicious and fiercely competitive is that ascending to power is synonymous with access to State resources.

And the converse is true. To demonstrate statesmanship, President Kenyatta, unlike his first term, must include everyone in his government.

Appointments to State jobs and other opportunities must be spread across the geography and demography of the country.

The President must disentangle himself from the closet of having only two communities sharing inordinately larger opportunities in government; exacerbating exclusion and creating resentment and disillusionment. What Kenyans want is a system that thrives on merit, equity and fairness.

CHALLENGES

Second, the economy is stuttering, as companies close shop or relocate to other capitals while employers retrench workers.

Citizens are suffering due to the high cost of living. Indeed, one of the issues that dominated the election campaigns was the unga cry; euphemism for food scarcity.

In this day age and when the country is seeking to join the ranks of industrialised nations, it is shameful for ours to be reduced to a State of beggars with food bowls in the hand.

Third, President Kenyatta's first term suffered the indignity of corruption. High level corruption defined the government.

Sadly, none was prosecuted.

HELPLESSNESS

President Kenyatta himself expressed helplessness in the face of soaring corruption cases.

Then as now, he must be reminded of the living words of America's 33rd President Harry S. Truman, who declared that the "buck stops here" -- with the presidency.

Other critical issues -- insecurity, rising debt burden, youth unemployment, industrial unrest and negative ethnicity -- require urgent and strategic resolutions.

Elections are over and it is time to return to normalcy. President Kenyatta has the constitutional mandate, which he must exercise selflessly and prudently, to unify citizens, re-awaken the Kenyan spirit and inspire the people to excel.

Kenya

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