Wacui Makori: Remember your Promise to Kenyans

Several former African leaders are expected to attend a peace conference to discuss the political transformation of Kenya from a state riddled with ethnic divisions and hatred to the region's most tolerant democracy.

Announcing the conference on January 22, Prime Minister Raila Odinga said the conference, dubbed "The Kenya We Want," would be held in Nairobi from February 2 to 4 to chart the way forward for the country.

The conference is set to be addressed by a galaxy of present and past world leaders as well as local and foreign experts, scholars and entrepreneurs.

The PM said that among the foreign participants expected to address the conference were former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, Dr. Mahathir Bin Mohammed, former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dr Abdoulaye Wade, President of Senegal, Joachim Chissano, former President of Mozambique and Graca Machel, former South African First Lady.

Others expected are Cyril Ramaphosa, a respected South African business executive and former anti-apartheid activist, Dr Salim Salim, former OAU Secretary General, Geraldine Fraser Moleketi, South Africa's Minister for Public Service and Administration and Tharcisse Karugarama, Rwanda's Minister for Justice.

Former Botswana President Ketumile Masire and former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda are also expected to attend this morning's meeting.

Odinga said Kenya's peace and tranquillity was shattered by last year's post-election violence and that there was need, as a nation, to look at where t he country wanted to go.

According to Odinga, some of the foreign leaders invited presided over nations that experienced more political turmoil than Kenya did last year, but pulled them out of chaos.

The forum will be used to demonstrate to the world that Kenyans are determined to solve their problems peacefully through open debate and also to strengthen investor confidence by showing its commitment to a bright future, complete with a roadmap on how to get there, Odinga said.

Meanwhile, as we contemplate this hopeful future, our MPs are at it again - tearing into each other over issues aimed only at serving their best interests; issues that should have been ironed out at the negotiation table during the formation of the Coalition Government. Since it is they who made their bed, shouldn't they should lie in it and do away with cheap politicking?

There have been too many broken promises in the past. Health for all by the Year 2000, Water for All by the Year 2000, We will fight Corruption etc. Kenyans are fed up.

These leaders need to realise that as far as the common mwananchi is concerned, all issues related to the formation of the Coalition Government were finalised upon the signing of the National Accord and it is now up to them to find a way to work within the Government they voluntarily endorsed.

They also need to remember that Kenya has barely recovered from a rather uncertain, volatile period - which we cannot afford to face again; Kenyans are dealing with a myriad of issues that must be urgently addressed - two scenarios whose resolution is heavily dependent on them working together. This unity of purpose must therefore be seen to be their number one objective.

Further, all these leaders got into parliament on a promise laden platform and the fact that almost all (if not all) of these promises have not yet been met should be keeping them awake at night. Kenyans expect more from the 10th parliament and complacency while crucial issues are pending is no longer acceptable.

We are waiting for the fulfilment of these promises as per their Party Manifestos and just in case our leaders cannot remember what their pledges to Kenyans were, we outline below the key pledges by the three main political parties below to refresh their memories.

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM)

ODM swept the masses in a euphoria that enabled the party garner the highest number of seats in parliament on a ticket that promised inclusivity and equity for all. Under its slogan of "Chungwa moja Maisha bora" the ODM leadership among other issues promised to protect and empower the poor, the marginalised and the vulnerable hence leading them into 'maisha bora'.

Some key pledges as per party manifesto that are yet to be honoured: -
  • Guarantee a new Constitution within 6 months to ensure Equity, Executive Accountability and Devolution of Power.
  • We will introduce free quality secondary education.
  • Ensure a taxation regime that expands the tax base while lowering the tax rate and encouraging savings and investments.
  • Ensure that 80% of Kenyans will have access to potable water by drilling boreholes, constructing gravity piped water supplies and expanding urban piped water supplies.
  • Introduce a new national youth leadership programme and integrate the youth in leadership today, not tomorrow.
  • Ensure a minimum 30% representation of women in Parliament, Local Government, Foreign Service and all other areas of government and decision-making institutions. This would be a start, and there will be no glass ceilings on the aspirations of Kenyan women as we work progressively towards realising a 50:50 gender ratio in all public bodies.
  • Open "Jobseeker" offices in major cities and towns before going nationwide for assisting those that have completed secondary school education and graduates. This will be our new government strategy to deal with unemployment.
Recently, the ODM Party Chairman Henry Kosgey together with Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi asked for patience from their supporters claiming that working with people who do not share the same ideals was proving to be a big challenge.

They said that all the powerful dockets in Government went to PNU and they were therefore struggling to deliver their pledges with the little they have.

Even if the above is true, these leaders can still make their voices on certain issues that they have chosen to remain mum over. We do not hear them pushing for free secondary education as they promised, they have nothing to say about teacher's salaries in spite of the looming strike; they went ahead and voted to not pay taxes even after promising to expand the tax base; they have not appointed youth in any of their top leadership positions and as was evident during their just ended party elections, women still have to fight in order to attain any sort of inclusivity.

Party of National Unity (PNU)

PNU under the slogan 'Kazi iendelee' came together as a amalgamation of at least twenty-seven parties. They claimed to be founded on principles of national unity, justice, and liberty among other attributes; offering representation from all regions and communities, cutting across age, gender as well as religion.

Some key pledges as per party manifesto that are yet to be honoured:-
  • We shall invest in developing the Million Stalls and Sheds Programme by building hawkers' markets, jua kali parks, and small business parks in every city, town and municipality so as to support and encourage investment in the informal sector with the intention of getting half of them to graduate into formal enterprises.
  • We shall strive to ensure that women are assured of more than 30 percent representation in all public appointments and elective positions, and that all minorities are fully represented in our public appointments.
  • Every child including those with special needs, will be educated for free in public schools from primary to secondary education, giving every single child no matter their background an equal opportunity in life through education.
  • Every child under five years of age, those enrolled in primary and secondary schools, and children with special needs will receive free treatment in public health facilities, thus giving every single Kenyan child the opportunity to grow up healthy and strong.
  • Every pregnant woman will receive free antenatal clinics, free and safe maternity delivery, and free post-natal clinics in our public dispensaries and health centres because we value the lives of every mother and newborn child. A prosperous, secure and equitable future for all Kenyans
The hawkers market at Muthurwa is yet to be duplicated in other parts of the city and country; in fact hawkers are still having their stalls brought down - especially in the city estates - which further frustrate the informal sector.

Education is still a thorny subject, whereas the free primary education has been relatively successful the challenge now is that there aren't enough secondary schools therefore a majority of children who sit for KCPE and qualify for secondary education end up missing slots and even those who get admittance have to raise the school fees.

Women are still being marginalized as was evidenced during the PNU party elections where women leaders were not provided with an equal opportunity or platform to contest for seats.

Orange Democratic Movement - Kenya (ODM-K)

ODM Kenya under the slogan "Wiper for Meaningful Change" promised to provide socio-political and economic solutions that would transform the country from its current scenario where people live in poverty to a vibrant, modern 24hr run economy. Its leadership promised that under the 'komesha umaskini' principle which formed the basis of their manifesto, Kenyans would enjoy a comfortable, dignified lifestyle devoid of hunger, malnutrition, disease etc.

Some key pledges as per party manifesto that are yet to be honoured:-
  • Ensure that all mothers and children have insecticide-treated bed nets by 2009 to counter the high infant mortality that is caused by malaria
  • Review and correct gender discriminatory laws affecting marriage, inheritance, land ownership, and custody and maintenance of children; support a Marriage and Family Protection law; and implement measures to support survivors of domestic and sexual violence
  • Launch a borehole sinking and dam-construction program in the arid and semi-arid areas such as Eastern and North Eastern Province, the North and South Rift and the Coast so as to trigger higher pastoral productivity rates in these areas. We are yet to see a single ODM-K leader either suggest in Parliament or actually distribute insecticide treated nets; gender discriminatory laws remain as they have and none of these leaders have brought it up in Parliament for review, neither have they addressed the water issue in spite representing some of the most affected areas in Kenya.

President Kibaki promised Kenyans that a committee had been constituted to harmonise the manifesto's of the big three parties. This was aimed at highlighting key issues, prioritising and implementing programmes to ensure the best service delivery to Kenyans. But, almost one year later, we are yet to receive the outcome of this committee's deliberations and therefore have no idea what our leadership's collective plans and vision for Kenya is.

An attempt by this writer to get a comment from various leaders of the 'big three' political parties was unfruitful as most could not be reached and those that were did not co-operate. We however remind our leaders that even as they sit to deliberate on 'the Kenya we want' - Kenyans continue to judge and hold them accountable individually for promises made; we continue to expect that each party leader will do what they said they will do - no excuses.

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