First 100 days of Uhuru Kenyatta’s presidency: Kenyans Be ‘aware’

July 14, 2013 11:16 am0 comments by:

Uhuru Kenyatta the fourth and current President of Kenya

Franklin D. Roosevelt came to power as the president of the U.S.A at the time when his country and much of the capitalist world were in economic and political turmoil. The Great Depression had taken its toll on both sides of the Atlantic. The situation was so dire that during his campaigning for the presidency, he promised his countrymen and women that if elected, he would start delivering within 100 days of his presidency.

He went on to win and make records for posterity, and a “100 days” countdown was born. Today, most Americans regard him amongst their best presidents of all time.
Since then, elected presidents and heads of states in different countries are given 100 days to show their course of good governance.
This 100 days countdown is in all honesty meaningless, and even more so in the complicated realities of African politics. The countdown is in Kenya now, and one morning as I watched news on Kenya’s television, there was much hype of the 100 days of the Kenyatta’s presidency.
As I watch commentators and pundits compete with one another to give their opinion on the nascent presidency, my mind takes me back in time when President Jakaya Kikwete (JK) was euphorically elected to office as the President of Tanzania in 2005. The mood in the country was ecstatic and the countdown had begun. Everything the president did was deemed by the Tanzania’s local media as “historical.” A Kenyan cartoonist enraged Tanzania’s media by criticising them through a cartoon that depicted the media licking President Kikwete’s shoes, a relationship the cartoonist perceived as being unhealthy.
The media hung to every word JK said and JK criss-crossed this vast land dishing out even more promises. He came to power at a time when the country was facing a crippling electrical power shortage. The countrymen and women were told everything was under control and to many it was seemingly true.
Those were very bad days for the demoralised opposition parties that had been humiliated at the polls and the country was in no mood to listen to them. JK was wildly popular and no questions were being asked.
Then the honeymoon came to a bitter end. The very media that had defended JK at every turn and twist became his biggest critic.
The perfectly choreographed show in the first 100 days unravelled quickly with mind boggling political scandals vying for attention and space. Our crippling power outages had brewed a huge scandal that led to the resignation of his entrusted Prime Minister and the whole cabinet. The bitter exchanges that ensued in our “August” house were drama filled experience and the story was never the same again. The government ended up being paralysed for the rest of the first term of the fourth phase government. Political infighting within CCM (the ruling party) brought the government to a standstill and parliamentarians from CCM were bitterly divided.
It later emerged that many in CCM were “unsatisfied” with the portion of the loot they received vis-à-vis what they claimed to be their “contribution” that led to the victory in the general elections. We had to live with one of the biggest cabinets since independence, so as to accommodate those who felt didn’t get enough. To make it even more painful, the whole lot didn’t change things for the better.
Another scandal was thrown under the rug through invoking claims of “national security”. Billions of shillings had disappeared from the Bank of Tanzania under suspect circumstances. On another scandal, few errand boys were arraigned to courts and sentenced.
So many times, ministers were dispatched to different parts of the country to tell and explain to mere mortals of the “achievements” of their government. This was incredulous and a wasteful spending of our taxes.
The 100 days promise was to never be, leaving a populace so disillusioned with their government. As they say, life gives you lemons at times even though you asked for oranges. We couldn’t even make lemonade.
In the end, perhaps exhausted by the behind the scenes and the not so secret jockeying for power, influence, and positions by his comrades, JK became what a famous columnist described as “a global trotting president”, staying at home had become too stressful.
To date, the bitter division persists in the government and the ruling CCM. Each waiting for another opportunity to strike at their opponent come 2015 during general elections.
Kenyans are no stranger to political scandals, and have had more than enough of their share. They will do better not to let their guard down like we did lest they end up with a rotten deal.
Style, grandeur and stunts suited for PR from their politicians won’t solve the challenges they face.

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