By: MACHARIA GAITHO
President Uhuru Kenyatta is facing very serious questions over his stewardship of the country.
The governing Jubilee coalition seems to be floundering, big on talk but very little on delivery.
It seems more preoccupied with combatting the “personal challenges” facing Deputy President William Ruto at the International Criminal Court than in addressing the very real issues facing Kenyans.
The lack of leadership on this score has provided the opposition Cord alliance, led by Mr Raila Odinga, with all the ammunition it needs to deliver a series of withering broadsides around claims that President Kenyatta and Mr Ruto are presiding over the return of Goldenberg-scale grand corruption amid an economic meltdown reminiscent of the Moi years.
The National Youth Service scandal, the spectre of kickback-motivated procurement for key infrastructure projects, rocketing interest rates, and the whereabouts of the Eurobond billions are all issues that have provided Mr Odinga with valuable propaganda points.
Now, Mr Odinga has provided very little actual evidence on his allegations.
He has made broad generalised accusations with no effort to back up his claims with proof.
But then he does not have to. The wily political animal in him has seized the opportunity to make capital out of issues that touch every Kenyan.
NO COGENT ANSWERS
He might be cooking the numbers or engaging in wild exaggerations, but his accusations deserve cogent, sober, and authoritative responses.
Sending out the likes of National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale and MPs Maina Kamanda and Moses Kuria to counter Mr Odinga might be intended to indicate that the opposition leader does not deserve to be taken seriously.
That strategy misses the point for countering Mr Odinga with insults and heckling does not answer the very serious questions he has raised.
President Kenyatta here should not be worrying about being drawn into exchanges with his nemesis, but about assuring Kenyans that they are in safe hands.
On this he would ignore Mr Odinga’s onslaught at his own peril because ultimately, it is Kenyans who need earnest responses to fears that the country, under his watch, is headed back to the misrule, destruction, and wanton looting of the Kanu era.
The President cannot duck his responsibility on issues that right now are occupying the minds of all citizens.
It is he who was entrusted with the burden of high office by Kenyan voters, not a motley bunch of political hecklers, sycophants, and social media mercenaries who can scream and shout on command but are blessed with very little between their ears.
Responding to Mr Odinga with childish insults serves absolutely no purpose.
It suggests that the government actually has no cogent answers and, therefore, only reinforces his accusations.
The issues that have been raised are serious enough to deserve answers from the highest office in the land.
That could be at the level of a press conference from State House or a State of the Nation address in Parliament that would directly address Kenyans and seek to assuage their very real fears and anxieties, especially over corruption and the economic situation.
IMMEDIATE ACTION NECESSARY
Apart from mere talk, reassurances, and promises, very strong action is required to demonstrate that the President is on top of the situation.
On corruption, particularly, the President has it within his powers to remove from office any officials who carries the stench of graft around them.
He does not have to wait for incompetent and corrupt investigative and judicial organs to conclude anything.
The very blatant refusal to act on corruption and theft casts President Kenyatta in very bad light.
Runaway corruption suggests that the President is either complicit or hostage to graft cartels in his government.
Therefore, he has no choice but to take serious and drastic action if he wants to disabuse such notions.
He must also move fast and decisively on the economy.
At the National Treasury, the Central Bank of Kenya, and other institutions, the President has at his service some of the best brains in the country.
They must be deployed to steady the rickety ship. Interest rates approaching 30 per cent are not sustainable in any normal economy.
One would need to be involved in narcotics or other illicit trade to repay bank loans at such usurious rates.