Reorganisation of the govt? What a start for the new year! Will it be business as usual?

Sunday January 19 2020

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta during the State of the Nation address at State House, Mombasa, on January 14, 2020. PSCU 

NERIMA WAKO-OJIWA
By NERIMA WAKO-OJIWA
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My work entails supporting youth inclusion and participation in political processes. Politics is important, because it is about who gets what, literally. As soon as we understand that, then we would look at politics differently and not just a space for noisemakers, good liars and extroverts.

At my organisation, the main focus is informing and educating youth how politics affects our daily lives. Also how young people cannot take the back seat when it comes to politics, and cannot only be involved during an election period.

Youth must learn to demand, because “power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will” as Frederick Douglas puts it.

Every time Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses the nation, his speeches say the right thing, but what we see is always different. Half of his speeches are about agriculture, which they should be, because most Kenyans depend on the sector.

We depend on our farmers greatly and without them, we are literally a starved nation, and a healthy nation is a wealthy one. Our farmers have been short-changed greatly and there is no doubt about that, and indeed they should have increased revenue solutions.

It's great that the President started his speech on Tuesday — when he made changes in government leadership — with the primary emphasis on the economy but the focus on politics was wrong.

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The Building Bridges Initiative has come to the centre of debate, not due to the nine points it was to focus on… oh no, we are definitely having national discussions but somehow they are constantly geared toward access to power, a prime minister position and what it means for certain camps in the political divide. Politicians seem so energised to debate the BBI on a daily basis that they do not recognise the weary faces of the people they lead who continue to languish in poverty.

We are at a point where Kenyans feel drained and many confess to switching off. They simply have stopped following the news, (when they can) because some news items are forced down our throats.

“If you can't stand the heat, then get out of the kitchen!” This was the message to former Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri when the President sacked him on Tuesday.

The President had given him several warnings and it is surprising that he did not resign earlier yet in his press conference, hours after he was fired, he mentioned that he saw it coming.

In his speech, President Kenyatta touched on matters that are deeply affecting Kenyans — floods, agriculture and health.

Surprisingly, he also touched on the entertainment industry, which many young people depend on.

He also spoke on corruption, the menace that haunts our progress.

The battle lines between the Executive and Judiciary were drawn last year, and the President was clear when he put the Judiciary in the spotlight. He urged the Judiciary to make convictions in graft cases.

The Judiciary is underfunded, dealing with corruption is difficult when whistle-blowers are treated as criminals, or when one is faced with decisions that are difficult to prosecute.

We have witnessed members of the Senate defend governors accused of graft. It is morally unethical, because senators play oversight role over governors.

Some of the appointments the President announced were individuals who are affiliated to opposition, so we can see the fruits of the Handshake.

Many were happy that some young people were appointed and they are real young, you know, below the age of 35. Not the youngish individuals that politicians like to flaunt as youth, and they are in their 60s.

The state department of Youth Affairs was moved to ICT and Innovation ministry because youth were always ignored in the Public Service and Gender ministry.

It is a new year, new decade, let's wait and see if this will be a new day in our government leadership, we would not need long to measure.

Next week, will it be politics as usual?

Nerima Wako-Ojiwa is executive director of Siasa Place. Twitter: @NerimaW

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