Kenya: President Kenyatta - Economy Over Politics Is the Road to Progress

press release


- President Kenyatta urges focus on economic development

- Politics for politics' sake breeds poverty and conflicts

- President says he is ready to work with all for Kenya's prosperity

- Warns Constitutional order must be maintained

- President Kenyatta spells out the big four pillars of his vision for economic growth

President Uhuru Kenyatta today said a focus on economic development and a shift from politics for politics' sake is the only way to transform Kenya.

He said Kenya has lost many golden opportunities because leaders have elevated politics to a level higher than economic prosperity.

The President said poverty, as well as weak nations and conflicts in Africa, were a consequence of a wrong approach to nation-building which focused on politics at the expense of the economic well-being of the people.

"Poverty is not our fate as Africans. It is merely the outcome of the wrong solutions and priorities by leaders and their followers. For proof of this, you only need to take a look at the countries that have focused on politics for its own sake, and they abound on our continent," said the President.

President Kenyatta spoke at the Kasarani Sports Complex in Nairobi when he led Kenyans in celebrating the 54thJamhuri Day, the first after his swearing in for his second term in office.

He noted that none of the countries that placed politics over the economy has been able to achieve sustained prosperity for all and many have been destroyed through conflicts.

"It is time to reject this false notion of politics for politics' sake. Our founding fathers knew that we would never be totally free unless we were also prosperous," said the President.

The President, who was sworn into office for his second term at the end of November, said he will unite and lead Kenyans to make a paradigm shift that will place equal opportunity, dignity for all and the pursuit of material prosperity for all above politics.

"I have seen the future, and it is at hand. The pursuit of politics for politics' sake is the past; the pursuit of political leadership for economic liberation is the future. And it is up to us, as Kenyans, to deliver it," said President Kenyatta.

While acknowledging that the shift from the mindset that values politics for politics' sake to one that promotes politics of prosperity will not be easy, President Kenyatta emphasized the need for all Kenyans to pursue the path of transformation.

"It will attract cynics and pessimists; it will attract haters of the country who want to imprison us in a vicious cycle of empty politics and talk. The big shift cannot and will not be achieved by me and Jubilee alone; it will need all of us," said the President.

The Head of State said he is willing to engage with all Kenyans - including leaders of the opposition - in focusing the nation on economic transformation.

"I reach out to all Kenyans to help in achieving our common goal of peace, stability and prosperity for all. It is our shared responsibility to work for these ends, knowing that we all have a role to play and that we all must listen to one another," said the President.

He urged Kenyans to disabuse themselves of the wrong belief, which is contrary to the principles Kenya was founded on, that those who are weak can be strengthened by weakening those who are strong.

"This thinking promotes the belief that we strengthen the weak by weakening the strong; it wants us to believe that a Kenyan can climb the ladder of prosperity only if he brings down a fellow Kenyan," said the President.

President Kenyatta called on Kenyans to totally reject the politics of divisiveness and confrontation.

He also warned that his Government will not tolerate any acts that treat Kenya's Constitutional order with casual recklessness.

"The Constitution is the general will of all. No one is above it: no matter who you are, you are subject to its authority. Anything outside the Constitution is a hostile intrusion," said the President.

He said any individual who chooses senseless violence over the Constitutional order is an enemy of the Republic and will be dealt with as such.

"I wish to reiterate the point I made earlier. There will be a 5th, 6th and even 10th President of Kenya but there will not be a second, third or fourth Kenya. Leaders come and go; Kenya remains," emphasized the President.

To the youth, the Head of State advised them to continue working hard to improve their lives and to reject those who try to lead them astray. He said the Jubilee Government is committed to open up more opportunities to accommodate their energy and optimism.

"I believe in you. You are my partners. And this is why my Big Four plan is centred on you. You will drive the big shift from politics to prosperity," said the President.

The Big Four - food security, affordable housing, manufacturing and affordable healthcare - are the pillars of President Kenyatta's vision to transform Kenya economically.

The President said the Big Four will build on the foundation laid in his first term in sectors such as transport, electricity distribution, education and ICT.

"The Big Four will create jobs, which will enable our people to meet their basic needs. Jobs will transform the lives of our people from that of hardship and want, to new lives of greater comfort and well-being. And that is the future I have seen," said the President.

The President, who gave a detailed breakdown of what his Administration plans to undertake to succeed on the Big Four, also warned that the selfishness and corruption that has traditionally sabotaged the economy will not be tolerated.

"The selfishness and corruption of some amongst us have allowed inefficiencies, counterfeiters and cartels to flourish. It's time to grit our teeth: it's time to face and to defeat these enemies," said the President.

Deputy President William Ruto called on all Kenyans to work together, irrespective of political and religious affiliation, in building the nation.

"The journey ahead led by President Kenyatta will involve all Kenyans. Nobody should be left behind. That journey must involve all of us as Kenyans irrespective of how we voted," Deputy President Ruto said.

He added: "It must involve those in Government and those in the opposition. We owe it to those who fought for our independence and secured our democracy for us to work together so that our tomorrow will be better than our today and that our future will be greater than our present."

Nairobi Governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko emphasized the need for unity, saying the time for politics is now over and the focus should shift to delivering services to Kenyans.

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and Mrs Rachel Ruto, the Deputy President's wife, were among the thousands of Kenyans who attended the celebrations at Kasarani also graced by former President of Ghana, John Dramani Mahama.

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