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President Uhuru might have best of intentions for Kenya but his courtiers letting him down

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ABOUT a week ago, the Parliamentary Budget and Appropriations Committee had a meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House. This was after assessing what the Executive had proposed to spend on tax-payer’s money in the next financial year  and in our opinion, something needed to change.

We had given the President notice that we intended to slash the budget of key ministries since in our opinion, priority needed to shift to what would benefit Kenyans most.  The Committee chairman, Rev Mutava Musyimi took the President and the plenary through our concerns.

These included corruption, wastage in government, rising public wage bill, rising public debt to GDP ratio, insecurity, regional balance in appointments, tax collection based on value for money, creation of a conducive environment to do business among other concerns. When the President rose, he outlined his programmes and priorities  in the next five years.

What was impressive is that the President was well briefed on the budget. He knew what he was talking about and his experience as Finance minister has enabled him to have a fair grasp of the economy.  He came out as a well-meaning Kenyan det­ermined to leave a legacy. When I challenged the President on why he wasn’t making good his move to reduce the number of parastatals, he said it was because he cared about the livelihoods of those who work for the state-owned companies.

On matters devolution, the President emphasised that there is need to make counties work. When challenged on the new  roles of the restructured provincial administration, he explained that it was to bridge the service delivery gap that already existed. The President said the Constitution created a totally new system of government and not even older public administration would be relied upon to advice on the best way to govern.

The president came in as a well-intentioned individual who had a vision for the country but at the same time one who feared public backlash incase his policies or programmes fail to work. There has been hue and cry about non-performance of the Jubilee administration and the failure of the system to deal with issues such as run away insecurity.

While the President is well meaning, good intentions are never enough in public policy. In fact, there is a clear difference between the personality of the President and the presidency. There is an adage that says, show me your friends and I will tell you who you are. The same applies to this scenario. While the top leadership is clear in terms of what it intends to achieve, there is a clear disconnect with other levels of government.

Any failure by any administration to execute its intentions whether good or bad depends on how coordination is effected.  Such efficacy or lack of it thereof is dependent upon the prowess of those who superintend over such functions. The manner in which they are appointed, the plight of the youth, women, persons with disabilities but most importantly, meritocracy and rewarding talent.

Politics is about perceptions.  When these are positive, they enable a given administration to accumulate political goodwill and buy in for government action. This is especially so in a country like ours whose Constitution extols individual rights while at the same time recognising human rights because of the reality of how our society is organised.

As a matter of fact, the President must therefore reconfigure his command structure in order for his good intentions to cascade to the lower echelons of his administration. He must be seen to be inclusive and extol virtue and merit since the Constitution has put in place mechanisms to get the best from whatever fields of interest or concerns.

This will definitely translate into better performance in the execution of his administration policies and more importantly programmes.  If for example, you take the security docket, intelligence organs indicate that they do their job of informing the state and that it’s the Executive that fails to act on time. This means that for this to change, there is a need to have a team led by an individual who will help the President to execute measures as to avert the attacks that Kenya has witnessed lately.

Most importantly, the Opposition must continue to provide alternative policy options to the government and criticise out of love and patriotism for the good of the country.

It must always remain loyal to this cause. That is a role I assured the President that we are ready to undertake.

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During the informal interactions thereafter, I was able to secure the appointment of the board of National Council of Persons with Disabilities (NCPWD), which had been pending for close to a year. The last one was disbanded because of allegations of corruption and misappropriation of funds. It’s my hope that the team will deliver.

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