Open Letter To President Uhuru Kenyatta – “Reconstitute Your Government” – Part I

There is little denying that President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Jubilee coalition have hemorrhaged much of the goodwill and faith that Kenyans placed on them by electing them …

There is little denying that President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Jubilee coalition have hemorrhaged much of the goodwill and faith that Kenyans placed on them by electing them on March 4 2013; this notwithstanding President Uhuru Kenyatta’s recent reassurance that “Kenya is doing Okay” in the face of mounting public uproar against official government sleaze, the fact that Kenya is treading on perilous economic, political and social times is an indisputable open secret to most if not all Kenyans. Perhaps the president was trying to put on a brave face or maybe he is just in denial or both, either way, Kenya is in a governance crisis and clearly appears to be headed in the wrong direction. Mine is just to add my 2 cents to what’s already obvious as any concerned Kenyan and hopefully the president will finally become decisive and address these issues before it is too late for his and or the country itself for that matter. This is the first installment of many to come in the coming weeks and months.

You may recall this, in the United States President Ronald Reagan’s administration, arguably one of the most admired presidents of all time, almost collapsed because he had bad advisors running the government, it only takes a few, whether it was corruption or the Iran Contra, Reagan was let down by his top advisors and realized it when it was almost too late. His attorney general resigned after he was involved with a company that received illegal no-bid contracts; his secretary of the interior was indicted on multiple counts of perjury. Reagan’s vice president and successor, George Bush, pardoned six separate people for their roles in the Iran-Contra affair, including Reagan’s National Security adviser and his secretary of defense, you probably recall all these as you were here studying around then.

Similarly, in Kenya as you may also recall, the Kibaki-Odinga dysfunctional coalition went through even worse, not just how it was bloated by partisan special interests and cronies but also how these warring parties derailed progress. Who can forget Prime Minister Raila Odinga “firing” then Agriculture minister (now your Deputy) William Ruto and the Prof. Sam Ongeri over corruption in what turned out to be a pre-emptive move to deflect the rot at ODM such as the maize importation scandal? My point is, it is the enemy within that usually brings down the house and you are a prime candidate for this.

As a once fervent supporter of the president who is now disillusioned by the Jubilee government’s performance let me first, in fairness, acknowledge that President Uhuru Kenyatta is a man of great influence both inside and outside Kenya, almost effortlessly I might add. The visit by US President Barack Obama last July certainly validated President Kenyatta as an African statesman and to his credit, Kenyatta handled himself very well and did Kenya proud during Obama’s visit. There is so much about President Uhuru that endears people to him, if we didn’t know better, you wouldn’t know that the President grew as a prince; but for his last name, you would easily confuse him for a commoner, and perhaps that is what he is deep in his heart, his charisma, humility and ability to connect with just any and every person is remarkable, he is amiable and kindhearted. He overcame insuperable odds not the least of which was the trumped up indictments at the ICC for crimes against humanity of which most Kenyans believe he was framed, ironically it is the ICC that catapulted him to the Presidency as Kenyans made a bold statement of repudiating the ICC in electing him president on March 4, 2013. As one of the first ones if not the first to openly declare support for pre-candidate Kenyatta for President and to fight the naysayers, domestic and international, both publicly and privately, Kenyans judgment on March 4, 2013 vindicated us. We backed the president because we believed he was a special breed that will deliver great results but to say he has underperformed and underwhelmed would be an overstatement.

To you Mr. President:

It is time to level with you Mr. President. It is the company you keep, pure and simple. I am not sure if what I say will make any difference in your judgment of how you govern now, after all you are the president, but at least it will be on the record and it may be of value at some point in the future. It is one thing to be Mr. Nice and quite another to be President who can govern. You can actually be both but I think you, President Kenyatta, have a deficit of which only you can fix. You seem to be too nice a guy and in many respects detached from what is really going right in front of you. You seem to govern from crisis to crisis, you don’t seem to have control or grasp of what’s going in your own government and you are spending more time putting out fires and less time actually governing or setting the tone and agenda for what you want to achieve. In my own assessment, this deficit can be attributed to the company you keep Mr. President, company that you have coopted to help you govern. They are either pathologically or willfully inept and have badly misled you. How so you may ask?  The list is endless not the least of which is your government’s obsession with Ruto’s case at the ICC, runaway corruption, underperforming economy (monetary & fiscal policy), misplaced government appointments, demagoguery and embellishments of government achievement, failing education, failed diaspora policy, excessive taxation, insecurity and lawlessness, and the list goes on and on. In this installment I start with the following.

Obsession with ICC & Ruto:

There is no doubt that the Jubilee government is on a quest for self-preservation, it has spent inordinate amount of resources and effort to exonerate Deputy President William Ruto from the ICC. It is political, you need to be re-elected to a second term and Ruto is your ticket (though his pull in Rift Valley is debatable), Ruto needs exoneration from the ICC before he can be a sure bet for you and we understand that but this dance between you two has clearly distracted and continues to distract Jubilee from proper governance, and I am not just talking of the phony prayer rallies by MPs and Jubilee leadership which are nothing more than brazen sectarian politics but everything else associated with Ruto and ICC. Jubilee has done very little to address justice for the PEV victims, not even any rallies or memorials for them let alone any attempt to bring about justice to them and yet the president claims that it is the ICC that is obsessed with Ruto, that is an oxymoron. The truth is Kenya referred itself to the ICC and William Ruto led the charge to that effect. It was an admission of failure as a state to effect justice that Kenya outsourced the function to the ICC, so why are you now complaining? Additionally, as the party in power and as president, you have an unprecedented opportunity to bring some measure of justice to the victims, OPEN the WAKI ENVELOP, make it public and let’s bring closure to this saga.

To Deputy President William Ruto; Sir, you are deluding yourself if you think President Kenyatta or the MPs “prayers” will get you off the hook at the ICC. They won’t. Other than their nuisance value and playing to the Kenyan public gallery, the truth is those prayer rallies don’t intimidate anyone or influence much at the ICC, in fact they are annoying nuisance circuses that are more likely to work against you than for you; the judges have already warned against inciting the public against the court and you are the only one on the dock, think about that- take heed and don’t anger the judges; tell your idle MP friends to quit clowning around and being a public nuisance and put a lid on their theatrics because they will hurt you. An otherwise sympathetic court might rule against you just to deny your friends any chance of taking credit for a favorable outcome as they are wont to, just saying. I’d worry about the evidence before the court if I were you, I am sure you do, if it is false, I am sure the court will find in your favor and if not, just brace yourself, so counsel your friends to quit stoking public emotions claiming that others in the President’s circle fixed you, so what if they did? It was mutual combat at the time, you are not necessarily too clean either, you know. If I were to point at one thing that would hurt you, it is the 100 acre land that you allegedly disposed the PEV victim in Kitale and then put up a very spirited fight in court to retain it, I think the court has expressed interest in that case and if it finds a nexus in that case to the PEV and your attendant conduct in that case as being consistent with your defense, then you have plenty to answer to.

Demagoguery & the Presidential Digital Communications Unit:

Mr. President, I say your digital communications team is selling you short, way short. Reassign or retrain them because they are an ignominy to you and the presidency. At the end of the day, the buck stops at your doorstep and you were correct to say nobody can teach you how to do your job but it is also true that we expect and deserve the best out of you, so I say you need to fix that ASAP in my very humble opinion. It is not just that the digital team publishes inaccurate, mundane and trivial material at your behest but they are also inaccurate, they seldom get their facts right, always missing a material fact here and there in their publications which in turn misinforms the rest of the public and that erodes public confidence in you. The digital team’s output helps advance your detractors narrative that you are detached, misinformed and/or the wrong man for the job. They do not seem to fact-check a lot of what they publish, the incidents of inaccurate reporting or embellishments are too many to count. Bottom line is, your digital squad has practically turned the presidency into a propaganda machine while being hopelessly off message.  Most of what they report on are not even policy related and so they fail in getting the public to partner with you Mr. President.  If I were to advise you on this, I say certainly borrow from your predecessor Mwai Kibaki who let his work speak for him; the “digital” team working for you has substituted actual performance to demagoguery and helped create public disaffection in the process, you should fix that.


Runaway Corruption

Mr. President, I don’t need to lecture you on the devastating effects of the rampant corruption in government because that is pretty obvious, just suffice to say that it is dragging the economy down while giving your government a real bad rap, which again-should be pretty obvious by any measure. No objective person believes you are serious in fighting the sleaze, how when the cartels are run by those closest to you? In fact, it appears that you actually are wont to punish those who expose corruption-the lightning speed order to investigate and “immediately” prosecute Devolution Principal Secretary Peter Mang’iti for exposing the sleaze in his ministry following Jubilee Majority Leader’s “recommendation” supports the narrative that Jubilee not only condones corruption, but also aids and abets it. All we can ask is that don’t punish or retaliate against those who expose it.  We haven’t seen any meaningful arrests much less prosecutions, no jail time for any time. We don’t hear you talk of any recovery of the loot or restitution, just nothing- so let’s call if for what it is- corruption is part and parcel of Jubilee government’s DNA. Personally, I don’t even think Secretary Ann Waiguru is the problem in your government, she just epitomizes that which is wrong in the way you have structured the government, corruption is inbuilt, part of the package. Perception is reality and in Ms. Waiguru’s case you have simply proved that point and provided your detractors the ammunition to define and disparage you; you played favorites when you suspended other cabinet secretaries but looked the other way on Waiguru for similar accusations – you and your proxies have gone the extra mile to defend and protect her, Mama Charity Ngilu didn’t enjoy any of that protection, as president we expect you to accord everyone equal access and protection, in other words, what’s good for the goose is also good for the gander, wouldn’t you agree? Iit is the hypocrisy that we have issues with Sir. You have not been fair! And that is likely to cost you politically in the end.

Eurobond Deceptions – This is yet another example of self-inflicted wounds that have eroded your government’s standing with the people. It is just an example of the decay in your administration, the government is dishonest with the people. In this case, the government distorted the purpose and use of the Eurobond, we were told the proceeds will be used for long-term infrastructure projects but thus far, nobody can account for what it was used for, only platitudes and deflections is what we get, merely saying that the money was put to good use in not enough Mr. President, and you know that as a business man – it will take me pages and pages to actually prove to you that it wasn’t- boring stuff but suffice to say it was gobbled up by corruption. The government said the Eurobond will bring down interest rates and shore up the economy that was a fib- interest rates doubled instead and the economic growth has since been revised downward. To make matters worse, since the Eurobond sale, the government has borrowed more than twice as much with very little to show for it. The problem is that these bonds will soon mature where the government will be required to pay the face amount which runs in hundreds of Billions of shillings- with a down economy and low tax revenues, you are staring at default and bankruptcy like Greece did.

The notion that you allowed Kenya to be saddled up in so much debt that funds corruption is stunningly egregious. Besides splitting the borrowed funds with corrupt cartels in your government, you are borrowing to pay existing debt; Mr. President, what your administration is doing of robbing “Peter to pay Paul”, it is a Ponzi scheme and particularly irresponsible! It is worse than what Greece did, at least they didn’t waste their loans on corruption. So what I would suggest to concerned fellow Kenyans is to prevail on lenders including IMF & World Bank to STOP lending the Jubilee government if only to mitigate the damage to the rest of us. It worked under Moi, at least it got the former president’s attention and yes it might hurt economy of the corrupt but Kenyans would be better off in the long run than being saddled with debt we can ill afford.