Our economy, politics need urgent resuscitation
The nation has reached a crisis from a human, political, social and economic perspective, that not only require divine intervention but calls for deep reflection.
At the human level, we are still reeling from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has affected millions of lives and livelihoods, catching us unprepared and exposing our weaknesses.
Luckily, the virus has to this end, not been as devastating here as elsewhere, although it has sharply exposed the fragility and glaring inadequacies of our health system.
Still the emergency in Kisumu is a stark warning that danger is lurking.
However, it is the governance crisis in our nation that is deeply disturbing, with endless wrangles riddling the political landscape and cutting across the three arms of government.
The current battle between the Executive and the Judiciary over the appointment of judges and the recent decision by the courts to declare the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) and other Executive decisions null and void, has exacerbated a long-running feud.
This situation does not augur well for the consolidation of justice and the rule of law, leadership and integrity, national cohesion and the cultivation of a culture of political maturity and tolerance.
Worst of all, conflict between the principal arms of government denies the citizens their rights to enjoy the power and benefits of sovereignty enshrined in the Constitution, if not a blatant violation of their human rights.
With no Opposition to keep the government in check and the civil society severely emasculated, Kenyans have been left at the mercy of conceited, wrangling, self-serving politicians.
As the governance crisis causes anguish in the fulfilment of constitutionalism and nation-building, the economic crisis facing the citizenry is even more daunting.
To paraphrase the late Simeon Nyachae, then Finance minister, “the Kenyan economy is in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).”
The current occupant of that office; Ukur Yatani last week presented his budget that sought to paint a balanced and optimistic picture, but questions abound.
While we may not be in the ICU yet, we could be at the High Dependency Unit (HDU).
Financial analysts were quick to point out what ails our economy in Yatani’s budget.
They note that the Sh3.6 trillion 2021/2022 Financial Year Plan has a Sh1.5 trillion gap, which can only be reduced by borrowing externally and internally, hence our heavily indebted status.
The financial experts also claim the Finance minister understated actual expenditure by Sh609 billion to hide the Sh929 billion debt the national government intends to borrow to plug the budget deficit.
Kenya continues with its tradition of the past seven years of borrowing to repay debts, which in March 2021 hit Sh7.3 trillion, a figure experts say could be over Sh8.1 trillion currently.
This huge loan bill leaves very little to finance critical services and development.
Since our highly acclaimed Constitution made devolution a pillar of our development planning, county governments through revenue allocation from the National Treasury are expected to steer the driving wheels of “maendeleo”.
Yet the counties are starved of budgeted funds running into billions of shillings because the Treasury has not channelled the allocations into their accounts, leaving millions of wananchi languishing in poverty, with many stalled development projects.
With the economy in the HDU, the political establishment certainly in the ICU and citizens in the general ward, courtesy of COVID-19, the scenario appears bleak as we head into an uncertain period of toxic electoral succession politics.—[email protected]