Kenya: COVID-19 Forces President Kenyatta to Change Leadership Style

Covid-19 has changed President Uhuru Kenyatta's life, but more so, his presidency.

Every day, like many presidents across the world, he is bombarded with advice on how to handle the crisis, including whether or not to lift the measures taken to curb the spread of the virus.

In a rare interview about his presidency amid the Covid-19 crisis, the President said his main concerns are saving Kenyans from Covid-19 and how to make sure that the economy rises after the pandemic. It is a difficult balance.

On a daily basis, the President said, he is left "battling" with the issue of getting the country back to normalcy, "where people can go back to work". But he won't rush, he said.

"I'm grateful to a lot of people who are around me and who are giving input. We must first protect life and property," he said.

For the first time, President Kenyatta revealed, the number of people he interacts with on a single day has gone down. The daily security briefings are no longer face to face. "It is a very challenging time," he said. "We're using more of technology."

While the daily security briefs still take place from the various agencies, the mode of delivery has changed, thanks to Covid-19.

"My day is usually the same as it previously was, although there was more face-to-face engagement with people [previously]."

DIARY

On his morning briefings, the President said: "I start every morning with briefs from the police, the military and intelligence teams, and get updates on issues across the country. We discuss individually and collectively and agree on the kind of posture to take."

The other engagement is with "those charged with various responsibilities, various Cabinet secretaries, and at times with principal secretaries, especially on pet projects where I would like to see progress.

"For instance, Nairobi Metropolitan Service came on board just at the time when Covid-19 was about to hit us," the President said.

The rest of the day, he said, is spent contacting regional, African and global leaders. "We exchange ideas on: 'How are you handling? How are you managing? How can we get assistance?'"

He said that Kenya has learnt a lot from countries that have not taken the disease seriously, only to end up with serious consequences.

"We are moving on recognising the very real danger that if we go about it too fast and without a plan, we will be digging graves as we have seen happening in many parts of the world. Balancing between lives and livelihoods has been very difficult," he said.

The President said that every day, people around him give him input on how to protect life and property, which is his main task at the moment.

He added that Kenyans will be fine "as long as we continue to observe the protocols by the Ministry of Health".

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