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Kenyans need government now more than ever

By Stephen Ndegwa
Thursday, March 26th, 2020
Uhuru Kenyatta
President Uhuru Kenyatta. Photo/PSCU

A couple of weeks after the COVID-19 pandemic became a global phenomenon, I gave kudos to our government for handling the matter in a level headed manner, rather than through creating fear and despondency.

Several weeks later, it is widely agreed that the team, led by the Health Ministry newbie, Mutahi Kagwe, has made Kenyans proud. Barring a few loose ends caused by over-confidence, the team is helping Kenyans into a seamless lockdown!

But that is just half the story. As people desert both work and public places, millions of Kenyans are being rendered jobless, or finding themselves under extreme financial duress, due to diminished means in their normal ways of eking out a living.  

It is all good for the government to request certain critical sectors, particularly transport and hospitality, to pick up the tabs from losses accrued due to the raft of mitigation measures against the epidemic. 

 Contrariwise, in the developed world, governments are mobilising billions of dollars to oil the engines of their economies, with US President Donald Trump promising to write USD 1,000 checks for his fellow countrymen.  

It was all good for Telkom Kenya to get into a 4G deal with Google. But how many people in Kenya care about this during such crisis? The move is akin to telling the poor to eat cake, if they cannot afford bread.

Even an archetypal middle class like me is currently living from hand-to-mouth, as people who owe me peanuts can’t pay, won’t pay.

Indeed, can all the thieves of public funds now see the grave inhumanity they have exposed their fellow human beings to? 

Meanwhile, the gravity of the matter has still not caught the imagination of a section of Kenyans, with some still insisting on conducting their socio-economic business as usual.

I believe Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i is just doing press up exercises behind the scenes, watching and waiting for the time when he might be compelled to crack the whip, and ensure that we are all under lock and key.  

***

In the ongoing crisis, Kenyans did not know what to make of photos trending online showing motor vehicle accident survivor, Jubilee Party Secretary-General Raphael Tuju joyously hosting ODM’s Raila Odinga and his political nemesis, Deputy President William Ruto.

A few weeks ago, Ruto cried “system”, claiming that there was a cabal of invisible people hell bent on stopping his reggae dance to the country’s presidency.

Now, that Deputy President William Ruto is a man under siege is self-evident. Of late, the stress seems to be catching up with him, and he is increasingly losing his cool.

Citizens cannot tell the truth or otherwise of the grave allegations against the DP. What is for sure, however, is that any leader worth his salt must undergo extreme tribulations, similar to the polishing of gold and diamond before refinement.    

Moreover, Ruto understands the words of John 12:24 that say, “Truly, truly, I say unto you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit”.

Nature, or God, cannot allow true leaders to be cry-babies. A look at President Uhuru Kenyatta and his predecessors, from founding father Jomo Kenyatta, Daniel arap Moi to Mwai Kibaki, the journey to alpha male status is ridden with blood and tears.  

Of course, I am not in any way insinuating that Ruto should step aside, or give in to pressure by his political foes. If he really believes he has a vision, and the high moral ground to boot, let him fight to the bitter end. 

And even if he flops in 2022, he may want to ask octogenarian Kibaki and Raila the secret of never giving up. — The writer is a communication expert, and public policy analyst  [email protected]

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