2022 election must be about interests of Kenyans
Kenya’s political modus operandi is evolving from the politician-controlled narrative to a more people-centred and issue-based approach.
Political leaders are now awake to the fact that society’s concerns and engagement in shaping the national discourse is not an option as opposed to previous dramatised and venom-spewing sessions while addressing the electorate.
The decision by a business lobby group, the Mount Kenya Foundation (MKF), to meet aspiring presidential candidates, is a case in point.
Despite being a regional lobby, their concerns are not isolated to the region they come.
This sparks a positive bubble in molding an all-inclusive debate where sectoral facets of the society — may they be business-oriented, think tanks, civil and advocacy groups, religious and professional groups and the academia — become a critical cog in shaping the national political agenda.
However, the groupings should be active participants in offering solutions as opposed of being passive pawns of political endorsement in a political game plan.
On Tuesday, MKF, chaired by businessman Peter Munga, met ODM leader Raila Odinga and are scheduled to host the One Kenya Alliance leaders — Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Musalia Mudavadi (ANC), Baringo Senator Gideon Moi (Kanu) and Senator Moses Wetang’ula of Ford Kenya — sometime next week.
During the Raila-MKF meeting, they pitched for nationhood, shared prosperity, economic revival and peaceful co-existence, a popular chorus that has never attracted political goodwill to actualise. It is time to genuinely address issues that affect the country.
As rightly submitted by speakers at the forum, despite the development projects realised, the economy has been on a nosedive due to external factors such as the pandemic.
Also, the youth, who comprise the largest population in the country continue to be frustrated by high rate of unemployment. Their untapped labour resource is being wasted.
Simply put, the issues ailing the country and possible solutions are known, documented but the blueprints continue gathering dust on shelves awaiting the political will to implement.
To start with, we need to work on economic revival and turnaround strategy to cushion businesses through meaningful safeguards like stimulus programmes, review of the tax regime to be more investor friendly, fight corruption and embrace a synergy between the national and county governments.
This stands to transform Kenya into a competitive export-led economy supported by existing infrastructural development of the Standard Gauge Railway, ongoing rail network rehabilitation, road expansions and last mile electricity.
However, to achieve this, the business community needs supportive policies championed by both the government and the private sector mainly on access to credit lines for capital, address multiple taxation, fees and charges, lower cost of production, prioritise manufacturing and value addition of agricultural products, adequate and timely trade networks and market intelligence to have an upper hand to take the lead both regionally and internationally.
Businesses form the bulk of the 7.4 million Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises who contribute 34 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product yet most of them have either collapsed or are struggling to survive through unserviceable loans.
There is no society that has ever progressed by relegating the professionals, think tanks, experts, academia advocacy and lobby groups to the periphery. Rather, they act as key component in policy formulation and supportive pillars in implementation of national blueprints. — The writer is a diplomacy and communication consultant — @kinyurumunuhe