Celebrations as President Uhuru Kenyatta lifts curfew

Thursday, October 21st, 2021 00:00 |
President Uhuru Kenyatta, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto at Wang’uru Stadium during Mashujaa Day celebrations yesterday. Photo/PSCU

Kenyans yesterday welcomed President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Mashujaa Day present – the lifting of the 19-month nationwide dusk-to-dawn curfew.

A huge gathering that attended the 58th Mashujaa Day celebrations at Wang’uru stadium in Kirinyaga County broke into  ululations when the Head of State closed his speech with the announcement that he had lifted the curfew which has been blamed for the loss of livelihoods and businesses since the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country in March last year. 

There was more good news for Kenyans as the President also unveiled a raft of interventions – 13 in total – to cushion Kenyans against the ravages of the pandemic.

In total, the interventions cutting across various sectors will inject Sh25 billion into the economy.

The President, seemingly aware that Kenyans were eagerly waiting to hear whether he would lift the curfew, reserved the last sentence of his speech to break the good news, to shouts of joy from the gathering.

“By the authority vested in me as President, I hereby order and direct that the nationwide dusk-to-dawn curfew that has been in effect from 27th March, 2020, be and is hereby vacated with immediate effect,” the Head of State declared.

On March 25, 2020, the President declared cessation of night movement, which has drastically changed the lives of Kenyans as part of a raft of measures aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus infections, and has continued to extend it after the cases surged, but with a little adjustment on the hours.

Worship places

Hotels and eateries, supermarkets, fuel stations, mobile money agents, barbershops and salons, public transport vehicle operators and motorbike taxi riders, chemists and vegetable and meat sellers, among others, are some of the businesses that have been drastically affected by the curfew which, until its vacation, started at 10pm until 4am. 

Further, Uhuru said after consultations with the National Emergency Response Committee on Covid-19 and the National Security Council, he had decided to review the number of persons allowed in places of worship upwards from one-third of the normal number of congregants to two-thirds of the congregants, “provided that they adhere to all health protocols as directed by the government”.

In the carefully worded speech, which he restricted himself to, Uhuru softened the hearts of Kenyans reeling from effects of the pandemic and the restrictions, that came with it, by introducing economic interventions that will cushion them from effects of the pandemic.

The new stimulus programme, to be effected from next month, targets agriculture, health, education, drought response, policy, infrastructure, financial inclusion, energy and environmental conservation, where Treasury, the Agriculture and Health ministries and Parliament, will allocate resources and formulate relevant policies.

The youth empowerment programme, Kazi Mtaani, will also resume to cushion young people from Covid-induced unemployment and other vulnerabilities.

The occasion was graced by Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera and his wife Monica and attended by First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto and his wife Rachael, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Amani party leader Musalia Mudavadi, Cabinet Secretaries, 11 governors and a host of MPs.

He also gushed on the transformation of infrastructure by his administration, saying 7,991 kilometres of new tarmac roads had been completed and 4,800 kilometres were under construction, tea reforms had increased earnings by 42 per cent ($3 per kilogramme) in the last one year; while revitalisation of the New Kenya Planters Cooperative Union will raise coffee earnings upwards of Sh100 per kilogramme.

Though there was expectation that Uhuru would address the heightened succession politics, he steered clear of 2022 elections campaigns.

Both Ruto and Raila used the occasion to drum up support for their presidential bids to Mt Kenya region people.

However, the President declined to be drawn into it, only saying Kirinyaga was a critical part of Mt Kenya and it’s where discourse on the county and Mt Kenya region must be done with honesty.

“This county (Kirinyaga) is named after the mountain of mystery or Kere-Nyaga.

According to traditional folklore, the mountain of mystery was created as God’s resting place and as a sign of His wonder….

This mountain, standing tall in our presence here today, was not just a place of rest and a shrine for worship.

It was also a place of renewal, a place of honest conversation, and a place for bonding and reconciliation,” he said.

Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru, who had been assigned the role of inviting Ruto to speak and invite the President, first called the ODM leader to address the gathering despite his name not being on the speakers list.

Ruto uncharacteristically poured praises on his boss for his work, saying he had set an unprecedented trend as far as transforming the country is concerned and that his leadership will earn him a prominent legacy that will require his successors to work hard to match it.

“We celebrate you as our leader. For the last nine years you have set a very unprecedented transition growth from the standard gauge railway, 11,000 kilometres of tarmac road. Connecting electricity to eight million people. Transformation in education.

Your place in history in Kenya is not only secured but very prominent.

Your legacy as a transformative leader will set standards for the leaders who will come after you,” he said.

He added: “Myself and my competitors, we will build on the legacy that you have created. We will ensure that whatever you will leave behind, nothing will not be completed.

I assure you as your deputy for the last nine years, God willing will ensure your legacy and the agenda on unity, transformation through the Big Four agenda and bottom-up approach will take it to great heights.”

This was the complete opposite of the DP, who together with his surrogates, have been throwing harsh words at the President and branding him a failure.

On Sunday, Ruto accused Uhuru of political conmanship after he negated their deal that he would automatically support his bid in 2022.

Presidential pitch

“They are now calling me names and branding me a thief. When I supported Raila Odinga until he became prime minister, they said I was dependable, when I supported Uhuru Kenyatta to become President, even after Maraga (Supreme Court) nullified the election, I pushed him and he became President.

I was dependable. Today when I opt to make the jobless prosper, they label me a fraud. Aren’t these cons?” Ruto said while on a tour of the Coast.

Raila, buoyed by his relationship with the President, has been keen to elbow the DP out of Mt Kenya region where he had made significant inroads. 

Yesterday, he narrated his family’s relationship with the Kikuyu community and how it placed a key role in the elevation of the founding President Jomo Kenyatta to leadership, Jaramogi Odinga’s nurturing third President Mwai Kibaki into leadership and his support for Kibaki in 2002.

Raila said when he declared “Kibaki Tosha” in 2002, it was said he had died politically allegedly because the Luo community would never elect a Kikuyu because of Tom Mboya’s assassination.

“I went to the Luo people and told them that we were not an enemy of the Kikuyu.

Jaramogi stood with Jomo Kenyatta and Jaramogi went to Makerere and picked Kibaki and made him the executive of Kanu.

Luos voted for him 98 per cent. That shows that tribalism has a very thin skin,” he said.

He added: “Kibaki got an accident and was sworn in while on a wheelchair. We went to, Thika, Kenol, Murang’a, Kerugoya, Karatina to Othaya homecoming and everywhere we went, Raila was called Mutongoria Njamba (hero).

Raila Odinga is a friend of the mountain and I have been able to climb the mountain,” he said.

Mudavadi said leaders competing for positions should respect and be tolerant with each other for the sake of peace and cohesion.

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