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We Must Scrutinise Not Only Our Candidates Integrity... But, Also Their Personal Abilities And Commitment

Coastweek -- It is that time of the year when wananchi are treated to a vision of what they should be expecting for the next five years – depending on who comes to power at the elections, writes Teti Kamugunda.

The manifestos of the major parties have been launched and only a handful of the six other candidates have produced a manifesto. 

The first question that I ask is, why produce a manifesto when we already have Vision 2030.

This Vision was crafted by a representative body of people that came from all walks of life.

It traces its origin from the desire by the then government, under President Mwai Kibaki, to replace the Economic Recovery Strategy (ERS) that it had put in place when it came into power in 2002.

It was to run for five years and would expire in 2007.

The year before its expiry, a special body was formed which would be eventually called the National Economic and Social Council or NESC.

It was charged with creating the replacement of the ERS.

The membership of NESC came from government, academia, civil society, faith based organisations, development agencies and the business community.

It also had the help of specialists from two rapidly developing economies – Korea and Singapore.

This body is the one that conceptualised Vision 2030, clearly premised on the understanding that working on discrete five year planning cycles which mirrored the election cycles would have led to disjointed development.

The NESC was also able to draw on the fact that quite a few key projects in Kenya never saw the light of day as they were conceptualised by one load of bureaucrats and then stopped by the next lot who came in.

There were also many successful ones that bit the dust because of major policy changes that completely shredded the investment premises prior to the businesses becoming self sufficient.

The Vision was adopted in 2007 and implementation started in the troubled times after the post election violence that was experienced in 2008.

The formation of a Government of National Unity also known as the Grand Coalition Cabinet was a blessing for this Vision.

The two largest political factions in the country were put together in a pressure cooker relationship that slowed down a lot of things but it meant that whatever long-term commitment was made was very likely to be respected in a future should the political landscape change.

It has indeed changed and the two key “factions” in the Government of National Unity still remain the main players in the politics of Kenya today.

The import of the earlier paragraphs is that Vision 2030 is still the main guiding document on which the manifestos of the two key parties or coalitions are based.

They have very little difference in substance.

They only differ on emphasis.

The main thing that underpins the three pillars of the Vision is infrastructure in the widest sense.

This would mean that for road users like us, there would still be continued focus on building new roads, upgrading and expanding existing ones, and enhancing the maintenance of existing roads.

To illustrate this point, there are recent expressions of interests invited for major road construction projects around Mombasa and Nairobi by the Kenya National Highways Authority (KENHA).

The Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA) has also invited companies to bid for new projects.

There are also recently signed contracts that are about to start under the same Authorities which will obviously continue into the next government’s tenure.

So as we approach the polls in just under five weeks time, we should note that the promises by both the main “parties” as well as the other six parties/ candidates mostly come from the same document – Vision 2030 – and reflect the wishes of Kenyans.

So the promise is exactly the same by all the people who hope to lead Kenya.

Our choices, from my point of view, must be made on the integrity of the people leading the promises being made by the parties and who are vying for the Presidency.

It must also be made on the basis of the integrity of the candidates who will be vying for Parliamentary as well as Senate seats and also Women’s Representatives.

This way the Executive and the Legislature will truly deliver on their remit – to act as checks and balances on each other and stay true to the Constitution of the Kenya as they deliver on the promise.

Our choices for Governors and Members of County Assemblies (MCAs) should be even more critical as these are the people who are closest to wananchi and should manage the effective delivery of services to us.

We must scrutinise not only their integrity but also their personal abilities and commitment to following the Constitution and also their track record.

It is only by being brutal and ruthless in applying our constitutional rights and ensuring that the people we elect have the right credentials in strict accordance with the expectations that we have expressed in the Constitution of Kenya that we will begin to get the kind of service we expect and demand.

Now is the time, as we better understand the power play between National and County Governments, that we select the country and county leadership that will deliver our aspirations in the next five years and also build a sound basis for the future.

As Kachumbari says, the immediate future of the country is in our hands - literally.

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