The best candidates have promised paradise, but will they keep their promises?
As the race for the August 9 presidential election enters the home stretch, the main contenders, Vice President William Ruto and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga are sparing no effort to win the support of some constituencies.
With opinion polls showing a close contest between Raila, the candidate of the Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya Alliance, and Ruto, the standard bearer of the United Democratic Alliance (UDA), who is running under the banner of Kenya’s Kwanza Alliance, prevailing over swing-voting regional blocs and special interest groups such as women and youth, small and medium business operators, poor and marginalized communities became their focus.
While Raila has launched a 10-point manifesto articulating the programs he will put at the top of his agenda if he wins, Ruto is expected to unveil his by the end of the month.
But the pair have already spelled out what they are looking to achieve within 100 days of taking office, though they face the daunting task of proving they will be able to make the constitutional and legal changes. necessary within the time allowed and to find adequate resources to finance them.
The election is taking place under the cloud of a skyrocketing cost of living, which has been made worse by the Russian-Ukrainian war. As a result, food prices are expected to continue to rise due to the scarcity of grain, sunflower oil and fertilizers on the international market, as is that of fuel, which reached 159.12 shillings on Tuesday for the super gasoline in Nairobi in the latest review by the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA).
Ruto has used the crisis to portray himself as the only solution to suffering Kenyans, portraying Raila as a continuation of the status quo, earning him a sharp rebuke from President Uhuru Kenya, who backs the ODM leader.
After initially shunning regional kingpins, Ruto has since embraced the likes of Chief Amani Musalia Mudavadi, Ford-K’s Moses Wetang’ula, and Governors Alfred Mutua and Amason Kingi by promising them a slice of his government. they are elected.
Mudavadi and Wetang’ula have struck a deal that secures them 30% of the government if they secure 70% of the Western vote, a rather ambitious mission but one that the two say is not set in stone.
Mudavadi has already been promised the proposed post of Premier Cabinet Secretary while it is unclear what is on the table for Wetang’ula, who is defending his senator seat in Bungoma.
On the other hand, Raila assured Kalonzo that he would be appointed secretary general of the cabinet in return for his support. The Western region is assured of three ministerial posts, in addition to Defense CS Eugene Wamalwa. Governor Moses Akaranga has been promised the position of CS of the National Treasury in Raila’s cabinet. The former president of the National Assembly, Kenneth Marende, has also been promised the post of president of the Senate.
While Kenyan politics is still largely tribal, it remains to be seen whether Ruto can deliver on his promise to give women 50% of his cabinet.
The equation is further complicated by the constitutional requirement that the number of cabinet secretaries be capped at 22.
Critics say Ruto’s proposal, which also saw him sign a charter to implement the elusive two-thirds rule, was a reaction to Raila’s choice of Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua as running mate, who was hailed as a milestone for women in the country. , forcing him to come up with a “gender agenda”.
This will, however, require amendments to the Constitution, but Ruto says he can achieve the same in 100 days.
“There are those who say that it is not possible to actualize the two-thirds rule between the sexes. I will only need 90 days in office to have it and 180 days to encompass it fully in all areas,” Ruto told NTV in an interview Sunday night.
To achieve the same, the DP will need to have numbers in parliament if he wins and hopes those in the opposition will join him in making the quest that has been stalled for nearly a debate, then leading the judge Chief David Maraga to recommend to the Speaker that the House be dissolved.
According to Kipkirui Kap Telwa, who teaches journalism at Kenya Multimedia University, Ruto’s target of 50 percent of the cabinet going to women is more of a progressive policy.
“It’s not magical or impractical. Currently, we do about 22%. Ruto might not achieve it on day one,” he told The Nairobian.
He was referring to the current Cabinet, which has five female ministers out of 21 (after the departure of Sicily Kariuki which had its eye on the Nyandarua governor’s seat).
President Uhuru, who on Tuesday won an African Union prize for promoting gender equality, has given women key portfolios such as defence, foreign affairs, energy, civil service, land, health and sports.
In addition to gender, the two main candidates have proposed ambitious programs that would require colossal sums ranging from health, education, housing, infrastructure, SMEs to youth unemployment.
An example is Raila’s 6,000 shillings per month allowance for poor families, the ‘Babacare’ health program and ‘Maji Kwa Kila Boma’, which he says will ensure every household has access to water. drinking from the tap.
On the other hand, Ruto promises to inject 50 billion shillings to allow SMEs to access subsidized loans and a 100 billion shillings youth empowerment program, among others.
Kap Telwa says some of the pledges such as Maji Kwa Kila Nyumba are noble since water is a decentralized unit and will require the support of the Board of Governors.
He also argues that Raila’s allocation of 6,000 shillings is untenable since the source of funding remains uncertain.
“Even if we try to implement it, it will not be sustainable as the number of unemployed Kenyans will continue to rise. Defining the parameters will be a challenge,” he adds.
However, policy analyst Dr Wanguhu Gitonga calls it realistic, noting that it can build on the monthly stipend of 2,000 shillings already given to the elderly, orphans and disabled.
“There are many leaks in the public finance ecosystem and if they can be stopped, he can redirect the 700 billion shillings. The cost of the initiative is estimated,” Gitonga said.
Kap Telwa also cites free university education as another lofty promise.
“Currently, the government is unable to employ adequate teachers. University capitation is down. It is therefore not possible to extend free education to universities,” he said.