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Leaders unity gesture crucial in pursuit of inclusivity

By Alberto Leny
Tuesday, January 28th, 2020
Murkomen at BBI rally Mombasa. Photo/Courtesy
In summary

Positive signals emerged from the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) meeting in Mombasa at the weekend when political opponents shared a platform and seemed to agree on one thing—inclusivity in governance and socio-economic development.

Temporarily setting aside their often-petty political narratives, the leaders, probably jolted by the growing popular national consciousness on constitutionalism and development, they opted, for once, to respond to their constitutional duty of representation.

Whether the collective responsibility holding the political protagonists hostage to the new consensus for cohesion, inclusion and growth that wananchi are demanding is a dawning reality or a fleeting delusion remains to be seen.

The Mombasa meeting took place against the backdrop of two significant global events, the World Economic Forum in Davos and the launch of the World Social Development Report 2020 that captures the key issues facing humanity today.

At the Davos summit, the world leaders engaged in collaborative activities to shape global, regional and industry agenda themed ‘Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World’. How uncannily relevant to the situation in Kenya in 2020!

The forum emphasised the role of public/private collaboration in delivering key environmental, social and governance goals to promote inclusive and sustainable growth, including entrepreneurship in Africa. 

It announced a multi-stakeholder effort to grow, conserve and restore one trillion trees by 2030 to counter the effects of climate change and a $500 million partnership towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Kenya could learn from the outcomes of these global platforms as the BBI enters a crucial phase espousing the vital importance of placing initiatives for social development at the centre of economic policymaking.

The IMF World Economic Outlook for 2020 released in Davos highlights “trade policy uncertainty, geopolitical tensions, and idiosyncratic stress in key emerging market economies that are weighing on global economic activity”.

It adds that intensifying social unrest and weather-related disasters, including droughts and bushfires in Australia and floods and droughts in Africa pose new challenges. 

Kenya is experiencing these phenomena, now compounded by the worst locust invasion in 70 years that is destroying crops and threatening millions with food shortage. 

The World Social Development Report 2020, however, points out the future course of these complex challenges can be reversed: “Inequality in a rapidly changing world comes as we confront the harsh realities of a deeply unequal landscape…fuelled by economic woes, growing inequalities and job insecurity. Income disparities and a lack of opportunities are creating a vicious cycle of inequality, frustration and discontent across generations.”

It notes that a key imperative across all economies at a time of widening unrest is to enhance inclusiveness, ensure safety nets are protecting the vulnerable, and governance structures strengthen social cohesion.

To demonstrate their perceived renewed fealty to good governance and socio-economic inclusion, double-faced politicians must tone down myopic rhetoric and embrace the new consensus for a collective national character. 

Regardless of partisan or selfish inclinations, they should place people at the centre of the concerns for unity and sustainable development because governments are constitutionally bound to create more equitable societies. 

That means pledging afresh to genuinely eradicate poverty, promote full and productive employment and foster social integration for a stable, safe and just society. [email protected]

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