By Wanjohi Githae*
President Uhuru Kenyatta is on Monday expected to unveil his party’s manifesto focusing on job creation, free secondary education and infrastructure expansion.
Sources within the Jubilee Party said the manifesto also places emphasis on food security, better but affordable healthcare and improved security in the country.
From his speeches over the last few days, President Kenyatta has hinted at the coalition’s new ideas, offering a glimpse of what the manifesto to be launched at the Kasarani Sports Complex will address.
These include at least 100,000 new jobs for youth every year. This is from the graduate internship programme, or paid apprenticeships, through which all graduates from universities and technical institutes will be taken by government and the private sector for a period of 12 to 18 months.
He announced this in Meru last week. It is expected that the Government will fund part of the programme directly or through tax breaks and other measures.
The government has already got buy-in for the programme from business following a meeting with the umbrella Kenya Private Sector Alliance this month.
The government is already talking up its other youth jobs initiative known as “Ajira”, which looks to take advantage of a million online jobs available to Kenyans. Already 50,000 youth have been registered and trained, including receiving tools necessary to self-start. Kenya has the fastest Internet speeds in Africa.
The second key plank for Jubilee will be the much touted free secondary education. On the campaign trail, President Kenyatta has said that this will kick off without hitches.
In the current Budget, President Kenyatta’s Administration has allocated Sh5 billion for among other things the expansion of school infrastructure to ensure secondary schools have the capacity to accommodate more students. The goal of the expansion of infrastructure is to ensure that the Jubilee Government’s plan to effect 100 percent transition from primary to secondary schools is accomplished.
Ahead of the launch of their manifesto on Monday, the Nation takes a look at the seven pledges and makes an informed assessment of the extent to which the ruling coalition has achieved them or not.
1. Transformational leadership
We will ensure the public service provides quality services and is accountable to the people.
A broad statement covering a wide range of areas. The positive for Jubilee is that the Huduma Centres have brought services closer and made it easier for the public to access most government services at a one-stop shop. On accountability, corruption still reigns and Kenya is one of the most corrupt countries in the world.
2. A safe Kenya:
We will expand, Equip and modernise our security agencies to ensure every Kenyan is guaranteed of their safety and that of their loved ones and their property.
Perhaps the biggest threat since 2011 has been terror. There have been three major terror attacks since President Kenyatta took over, with each highlighting gaps in intelligence collection, security planning and response to threats. The number of attacks has reduced since the reorganization of the police force in 2015, but that it took almost three years to get things in order is worth pointing out. Still, the threat persists and there are attacks in the far-flung outposts in Mandera.
3. Empowering our youth
We will equip our youth with the necessary skills, capital and opportunities to create wealth for themselves through securing local and foreign investment in new factories and giving tax-breaks, grants and loans to set up (businesses).
The positive for Jubilee has been that the Youth Fund and the Uwezo Fund are operational and continue to offer youth an opportunity to access capital for investments and business. The procurement law was changed to make it mandatory for government agencies to give 30 per cent of contracts to the youth. On the negative side, one of the programs meant to benefit the youth emerged as possibly the biggest and certainly the most-documented scandal in the Jubilee administration. The Office of the Auditor-General reported after a special audit that the target was to loot Sh3.5 billion at the National Youth Service. The Public Accounts Committee reported that the sum that could have been misappropriated “may have been to the tune of Sh23 billion for the entire Devolution Ministry, of which slightly more than Sh10 billion is directly traceable to the National Youth Service.” In its report for the years 2015 and 2016, the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority reported that the national and county governments reported to have reserved a total of Sh28.8 billion representing 21.6 per cent of the total annual procurement Budget of Sh133.1 billion. This was below the 30 per cent threshold.
4. A food secure Kenya
We will ensure that our Agricultural sector can produce food in excess of the needs of our country by encouraging mechanization, irrigation, reviving cooperatives and farmer unions and subsidy for inputs. In addition, we will encourage value addition in the production chain and develop suitable marketing support mechanisms for our farmers.
There has been a mixed bag in this area. In their campaigns, President Kenyatta and Mr Ruto have played up the action taken to reduce the cost of maize flour after the hike in prices following a shortage. They however acknowledge that the production needs to increase to make the cheaper flour available in all parts of the country. The food crisis however highlighted the fact that the Galana-Kulalu irrigation scheme has not worked as originally planned. The Auditor-General reported after an audit that often, the subsidised fertiliser arrives in the farms after the planting season. There has not been an evident effort to revive cooperatives. On the positive, there has been an effort to prop up the ailing Mumias Sugar Company while MPs recommended the sale of government-owned sugar factories that were not making a turnaround despite the billions pumped in by the government.
5. Social justice
We will ensure that the rights of all Kenyans are preserved through good governance, democracy, and respect for the rule of law and social protection and welfare for the disadvantaged.
On the campaign trail, President Kenyatta has talked of the benefits from the programme where selected elderly persons over the age of 70 are given a monthly stipend of Sh1,500. Treasury Cabinet Secretary already announced that this programme will be expanded to cover everybody above 70 from January next year. The government has been criticized for arrests of journalists and attempts to restrict the work of civil society groups.
6. A healthy Kenya
We will ensure that all Kenyans have access to well equipped health facilities and well trained and motivated health care workers, in addition to developing systems to support health care and sanitation.
The bulk of healthcare provision was devolved and all that the national government handles are four national referral hospitals. Funding for Level Five hospitals is given to counties as conditional allocations. One of the positives for the national government was the Medical Equipment Services programme, through which 94 hospitals across the country are to get equipment for Intensive Care Units, theatres, dialysis and cancer diagnosis. Not all the hospitals have received all the equipment but there has been a positive impact in the area of treatment of kidney issues. But while the provision of equipment has been good, the workers say they are neglected. It was during this administration that doctors went on a 100-day strike, nurses are still on strike and clinical officers are threatening to go on strike.
7. Water and electricity for all
We will ensure that every Kenyan has access to clean water and sustainable supply of electricity by developing necessary policies to encourage investment in infrastructure for water and electricity provision.
Access to electricity has certainly improved, with the government saying on delivery.go.ke that the number of households with electricity has gone from 2.3 million in 2013 to 5.95 million now. Water and sewerage provision is a devolved function. Still, there is a perennial shortage of water in the capital city, Nairobi. The construction of a tunnel to collect water from other rivers and help increase the stock in Ndakaini Dam, where Nairobi gets most of its water, is on course after running into political headwinds.