Full in-tray that awaits incoming Head of State
Probably by the time of publication of this article, Kenya will have a new president. The new president faces a full in-tray and will have little time to savour his victory.
The first priority on his list will be easing the cost of living for Kenyans. The Government announced the end of the subsidy it was giving millers to bring down the cost of a 2kg packet of maize flour to Kshs 100. This means that with immediate effect, the price will shoot back to its pre-subsidy levels of Kshs 200 and above.
The new Government will have to find a way of ameliorating the shock increase in price of the commodity. Maize flour is Kenya’s staple food on which millions depend for their daily nutrition. Still on the food situation, the long rains in most parts of the country seem to have been inadequate. This means that the harvest is likely to be poor.
In Kenya, one poor season spells a crisis. Kenya is coming out of a famine where over 4 million people in arid and semi-arid areas faced starvation. The Government had to undertake a major programme of food distribution, as well as cash transfers to secure food adequacy for those affected.
The new president must have the food situation in his radar as one of the key issues that will require intervention of the incoming Government probably very soon. Indeed, this might blossom into a full-blown challenge if the short rains fail.
The second most urgent item for Kenyans is fees. This has been a huge challenge for parents given that the academic years 2021/2022 will have four terms. This has seriously constrained parents. Many children are probably not going to school. This is an urgent issue that the incoming Government needs to get an immediate handle on.
Further, huge challenges have been encountered by parents who really struggled to get their children to report to Form 1 this year. Again, the incoming Government must continue the work of ensuring that all the form ones who were selected report to their schools, and stay there.
The second priority is jumpstarting the economy. This is very critical as the economical hardships Kenyans are currently facing can only be turned around by a vibrant economy. One assumes, of course, that there is an elaborate plan by whoever the incoming president is for a sustained economic turnaround.
But in the immediate term, there are a couple of things that will create quick impact. The payment of all certified pending bills from central and county governments will provide an immediate injection of cash in the economy. Many dead and struggling businesses will not only wake up, but many will thrive, start growing, and boost production of goods and services, plus increase employment.
The new leader must focus on an immediate expansion of credit, especially for small and medium-scale enterprises. This is because these happen to be the low-hanging fruits in jumpstarting the Kenyan economy.
To facilitate counties to partner with the national government in these endeavours, the new president must make it a major priority of his Government to disburse funds to counties expeditiously. This is because a lot of the initiatives that national Government plans to roll out as priorities will require input from the counties.
The third priority must be healing the country. The two key formations that were competing in the election- Azimio and Kenya Kwanza- contested what was at times a bitter campaign. This resulted to a certain extent in polarisation of the country.
The new president has a duty to heal the country as a matter of priority. He should reach across the aisle to restore the bonds of national unity and brotherhood that were frayed by the rather aggressive campaign.