Resilient Kenya: Trudging Ahead Of Our Challenges
By Robert Aseda
No single statement could have ever captured the mood of a nation than the, ‘Please, Just Steal a Little.’ It is a declaration of people pleading with those in power to plunder public resources with decorum as if it were a tithe owed unto them.
Runaway systemic government corruption brought this feeling of resignation. In 2016 alone, the government has been hard-pressed to satisfy a non-believing nation that no money was lost in Health Ministry Scandal, National Youth Scandal, Eurobond Scandal among others despite no meaningful projects to account for the large resources pumped in and a nation sinking into debt five generations from now.
I recently asked a cousin of mine in high school what he wanted to be when he grew up. His answer was different but not surprising. He said he wanted to be a tenderpreneur. These are overnight rags to riches stories as a result of securing heavily bloated government tenders. At the center of the National Youth Scandal, for example, is a former hairdresser who opened around ten companies in record time and became a billionaire.His only challenge, my cousin admits, is that he doesn’t know the right people.
His only problem, my cousin admits, is that he doesn’t know the right people.
Kenya has been categorized as a middle-income country by the World Bank due to gross national income per capita increase. However, this middle-income status is not being felt by all Kenyans. In fact, there is a feeling that the Biblical phrase of those who have should be added and those who don’t have should be denied even the little they have has found a fertile soil in Kenya.
The recent Pew Research Center Research in Key African Nations corroborates this.
“While Kenyans are generally optimistic about the future, they still say a range of development issues pose serious challenges for their country today. At the top of the list, with at least eight-in-ten Kenyans saying each is a very big problem, are government corruption (91%), economic issues such as a lack of employment opportunities (87%) and poverty (86%), and crime (82%). “
Anticorruption and anti-poor governance campaigners are getting fewer but bolder especially as some of them have paid the ultimate price.
But it is not all gloom even though the enthusiasm rate is not as high as when the NARC government came to power in 2003 and promised sweeping reforms. Or even as high as when Kenya promulgated its ‘new’ constitution in 2010. Still, a significant percentage of Kenyans, especially young people, buoyed by increased opportunities to access government loans to start their businesses, access government tender opportunities and create employment remain optimistic that it will soon be dawn.
Leading activist Boniface Mwangi, himself embroiled in a legal challenge with the Deputy President after he accused the latter of corruption, often quips that ‘other countries have mafias, in Kenya, the mafia have a country’.
Hitherto divided along tribal and political lines, Kenyans, especially young Kenyans, are increasingly realizing that they share a common fate and that there is need to have a unity of purpose and continue to keep the government in check and demand for better delivery of services, improved security, human rights, better opportunities as the constitution and other legal instruments demand of the duty bearers.
Then and only then, is the country on path to realizing Vision 2030, the nation’s long term development blueprint.