Kenyans should debate President’s work ethic


President Uhuru Kenyatta’s work ethic hasn’t received as much media attention as his personal demeanour since he took office in 2013.

So, outside the tight circle of senior State House staff, personal aides and perhaps the Cabinet, very few Kenyans can claim to know whether their President is an early riser or a night owl, a hands-on boss or a hands-off boss, a lounger or a workaholic.

So indifferent has the media been about Mr Kenyatta’s work ethic, we even passed up the chance to interrogate the recent statement by his former boss in the Grand Coalition government, Mr Raila Odinga, challenging the President to “wake up and go to work”.

Even if Mr Odinga appeared to have been simply keen to avoid that cliche, shouldn’t we have found it worthwhile to confirm that the President doesn’t sleep on the job?

Come on, if we could bother to find out whether the man was “cool” and “youthful” during his first few weeks in State House and expend our scarce resources in the form of airtime and newspaper space to inform Kenyans about it, why shouldn’t we be concerned about whether he does the work Kenyans pay him to do?


And there couldn’t have been a better time to have a public conversation about the President’s work ethic.

The country’s economy is tanking, bombarded by high interest rates and a growing public debt burden.

Official corruption has relapsed to its malignant Moi-era levels and is undermining the government’s ability to deliver services to the citizens as well as dampening public confidence in the Jubilee administration.

Some of the senior people the President appointed to help him run the government, including Cabinet secretaries and principal secretaries, have chosen to blame everyone but themselves, run away from responsibility or run scared.

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich suggests it is the Chinese and the Americans, with the contrasting fortunes of their economies, who have cursed the shilling.

Anne Waiguru, the Devolution and Planning minister, won’t take responsibility for the well-documented fraud at the National Youth Service, which is a department in her ministry.

Joseph Nkaissery, the Interior minister, has taken to mole hunting, intimidating journalists and scaremongering about an imaginary plot to destabilise the government instead of accounting for some questionable spending by his ministry.

With everyone around him apparently keen to dodge responsibility for the problems in government, the logical thing to do would be for the boss to fire and replace them with new people or put in an extra shift to cover up for their weaknesses.

The kind of indecision or indifference the President has displayed in public amid growing concerns about his government does not necessarily define his work ethic. But it does give observers of his leadership something to work with. And the public should bother, too.