NAIROBI, Kenyans enter the New Year with high hopes and expectations to make a break with the past and chart a new path on the political, economic and social fronts.
The onus of revival and national renewal, however, squarely rests on President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is constitutionally mandated to lead the country for the next five years.
President Kenyatta must go to the basics and urgently deal with what matters � namely, unlocking the political impasse. He has to create environment for resolving vexed issues that divided the country right down the middle and, if left unresolved, may fester into a cancerous wound.
Two key things defined 2017: Long and fractious political contests and searing economic adversities. Together, they caused national paralysis.
First, adversarial politics balkanised the country and fed ethnic animosities, negatively affecting social relationships.
A half of the country deeply feels excluded and relegated to the periphery of national existence.
Matters have not been made any better by an administration seen as arrogant and insensitive. Too often, it thrives on populist declarations and decrees, when both have no place in this day and age of strategic and honest consultations. The President must take some dramatic actions to signal intentions to unite the country and preside over a responsive government.
The first step in achieving this is constituting an inclusive government. He needs to appoint a Cabinet, principal secretaries and other top officers from all parts of the country, across all demographics and based purely on merit and experience.
Kenyans want to see a government that lives to the credo of equity, fairness and merit. They want equal access to State jobs and resources.
The past practice, where appointments were skewed in favour a few regions and often to unqualified and inexperienced individuals, served to depict the administration negatively.
Secondly, the President must initiate national dialogue with the Opposition and various other interest groups such as faiths, civil society and professionals to get to the root of the political discontent. Top on the card is addressing electoral injustices, deepening devolution and guarding against the return of an imperial presidency.
Tackling these issues require constitutional debate. Indeed, talks have been rife about revisiting the Constitution and initiating amendments to allow the Opposition’s participation in national leadership.
But that is a narrow view. It is critical to give a broader look at governance and ask: What model best suits our circumstances?
Likewise, the Opposition must play a role in national reconciliation and healing. Its duty is to keep the government in check; however, persistent and consistent crusade for militant approaches is not the way to go.
The nation is hurting after months of violent protestations and, conversely, ruthless government actions. They ought to change tack and pursue other options.
President Kenyatta must pursue economic recovery. On paper, the economy tanked, closing the year at 4.9 per cent growth, down from 5.8 per cent in 2016.
Businesses recorded poor performance characterised by massive losses, profit cuts and job losses.
Inevitably, various policies such as the cap on bank interest rates that stifled cash flow must be reviewed.
The President must climb down from the lofty talk of legacy projects and address fundamental challenges afflicting the nation. We have a chance to open a new chapter and lay the foundation for prosperity.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK