Is Kenya’s economic growth real or imagined?

If there is something that NARC-K has pushed down the throats of Kenyans is the talk of economic growth. NARC reviewed its economic growth calculations when it came to power, something that made it report higher economic rates than the previous arithmetic. The details are too complex for the average Kenyan.

Kanu's zero point and minus something pre-2002 growth catapulted to 5 percent, then 5.8 and now 6 per cent. At the time LDP sponsored thinker and planning strategist, Prof. Anyang Nyongo was the Minister for Planning and National Development and Anglo-leasing bug hit Daudi Mwiraria was the Finance Minister.

The economic growth and wonderful poverty eradication and economic vision papers by the original NARC are now key subjects of the campaign period. NARC-K is using this to their advantage whilst ODM-K comprising of LDP sponsored NARC MPs and Kanu are in a dilemma. How will they turn this positive NARC-K campaign item against NARC-K? ODM-K has been shifting goalposts on this debate to suit the mood of Kenyans.

ODM-K started by denying there was any economic growth and claimed that 5.8 per cent figures were cooked and there was no real growth. Raila Odinga at the time proposed that the best economic growth measurement was that of Gross National Happiness (GNH). He captured the mood of the moment and this worked for some time.

The economic growth debate continued and it was apparent that something was happening on the economic front that was hard to deny. The Nairobi Stock Exchange was robust and with the CDF kitty and other disbursements, it was hard to deny that there was nothing happening to the Kenya economy.

The growth method adopted by NARC was defended and analysts reckoned that even if the old method was used, Kenya's growth would still be above 3 per cent. ODM-K in particular Dr. Raila Odinga watered down the NSE robust trading by saying that it was fueled by drug money and money laundering, a claim that is believed to be true in some quarters but disputed by NARC-K loyalists. He has gone further to state that his government would re-scrutinize the infamous NSE IPOs since they were lopsided to favour government pointmen in a bid to reverse them and re-offer them in a manner that will benefit all Kenyans.

The debate shifted to who is responsible for the growth? NARC-K said it was obvious but ODM-K said they were also responsible for the growth. A fight of word ensued, with Prof Anyang Nyongo demanding credit since he single handedly steered and wrote all those economic blueprints. The poverty eradication strategy paper, the Kenya 2030 vision and the like were spearheaded by Prof Nyongo, something that NARC-K could not effectively deny. Kenyans too well acknowledge the fact and envy Prof Nyongo's brains.

In fact the government was blamed for poor implementation of the strategy. This worked for a time until NARC-K started demanding that ODM-K take responsibility for the wrongs of the Kibaki regime as much as they want to claim the good. This did not go down well with ODM-K since it is public knowledge that LD sponsored ministers conducted themselves above board unlike NAK's Kiraitu, Murungaru and Mwiraria.

As Prof. Anyang Nyongo did the groundwork on economic recovery, Mwiraria's mandate was to push for Kenya's budget independence. Kibaki reported and was lauded in the African Union Summit last month for attaining a self reliant budget of 93%.

Onward, the economic growth was acknowledged by both sides and the focus shifted on distribution of the national cake and whether it really trickled down to the ordinary citizen. This has not happened as some areas of the country and a majority of Kenyans have not felt the much talked about heavy impact of economic growth on the ordinary lives of Kenyans. The distribution strategy (as opposed to how to jumpstart economic growth) is something that has been prominently featured in ODM-K presidential aspirants' strategy with a bias towards socialism and federal government.

Since Kibaki announced officially that he will be vying for a second term ODM-K has shifted positions once more. They are now concentrating on the pre-election MOU that dominated the politics of 2003 and 2004. One of the promises was that Kibaki was a transitional president going for one term only. What was his work in that one term? According to ODM-K presidential aspirant Kalonzo Musyoka, he was supposed to put Kenya on an economic recovery plan in 5 years and give way for others. Kibaki is famous for not honouring gentleman's agreement in whatever form and this has become a good agenda for ODM-K. He has done his economic work – what he promised to do, nothing new to pride in -, let him give way for others as he promised, says ODM-K.

Bookmark the permalink.