By NDUNG’U WAINAINA @ndunguwainaina
Kenya is desperately looking for a serious leader with clarity of vision, and one who understands the dynamics of the new world order. It wants a leader with foresight and conviction.
Studying keenly NASA presidential candidate Raila Odinga daily public statements and NASA manifesto three things stand out.
First, Raila is promising to make a break from the corrupting influence of the past. He is forthright in his critique of the existing order that is increasingly dominated by finance capital, giant corporations and a state subservient to criminal profiteering cartels.
Second, he wants to establish a more devolved economy and governance system, with ordinary people at the centre; people who are able to tap into their potential and prioritise their needs without second-guessing.
Third, Raila pledges to dismantle the old order and its institutional and organisational structures in order to embrace aspirations of todayâ€™s youth and the working population by evolving a democratic and participatory vision and practice of social democracy rather than remaining nostalgic about the unitary statehood that has made Kenya suffer from ethnic conflicts, gangsterisation of politics and authoritarian dictates of capital.
The 2010 Constitution, which has brought fruits of uhuru [freedom] to hitherto neglected regions through devolution, was largely midwifed through his efforts. Raila wants every corner of this country to grow and have a sense of belonging. He fights for fair and equal platforms for doing business. For him, there is no room for extralegal means of self-enrichment. He supports creating a transparent, fair and competitive environment for business; not rent-seeking. Raila wants all civil servants to be paid well, but barred from doing business with government to eliminate corruption and conflict of interest.
Raila wants to deepen and strengthen the devolved system of governance for three reasons. One, to ensure the allocations to the county governments are increased proportionately to the national revenue share. Big budget allocations to national ministries, departments and agencies must significantly be reduced as the majority of them have policy and regulatory mandate, while the counties hold crucial responsibility of service delivery. Raila adopts policy of â more county, less national.
Two, Raila wants to restructure, align, rationalise and downsise ministries, departments and agencies and regional sector-wide authorities to accord with and respect the devolved system of government. This will remove costly, parallel and duplicating functions and also release funds being held unconstitutionally by the national MDAs. This also includes massive overhaul of national policies, regulations and laws to bring them into conformity with the Constitution and devolution. Finally, he wants to strengthen democratic institutions that facilitate intergovernmental relations and ensure national institutions support devolution to build better constructive engagement between the national government and the counties.
The former Prime Minister wants to fundamentally alter the economic, fiscal, taxation and labour policy. Unlike President Uhuru Kenyatta’s high capital, borrowing economy model, Raila has adopted a people-centered, middle and below inclusive economy, and will reduce the taxation burden by broadening the taxation base. In the last four years, the country has seen the national government adopting and implementing a dangerous debt-propelled economy. Raila has promised to contain, reduce and wean out borrowing to create friendly environment to access cheap credit to invest and create jobs.
Further, he wants to see the county governments play a significant role in determining the economic, fiscal and taxation policy of the country, and also help them broaden their financial autonomy sustainability in several key ways. First, support the counties contribute, in various ways, to an enabling environment for pro-po
or economic growth and foster effective and efficient registration and licences for business and property activities. Second, enable the counties to focus on an economy based on export-led growth, manufacturing and diversification through building a transparent and favourable competitiveness environment and property rights regime that supports business. Third, strengthen the devolved system of government as driver of transforming the peasantry’s rural agricultural economy into modern high yield value-added export-oriented productivity. Fourth, strengthen the county-based local private sector, build inter-counties economic cooperation and support local small-scale businesses and manufacturing.
These policies, according to Raila, will directly address the deteriorating social and economic material conditions of the Kenyan people; unfavourable economic competiveness and business unfriendly environment of the country, especially for middle and small-scale businesses; building sustainable secure environment friendly livelihoods of the people; and tackling inequality On security and law enforcement, Raila has adopted a hybrid policy with specialised security agencies handling strategic security matters and localised policing and law enforcement as the bedrock of successful policing and crime prevention.
This policy promises to devolve certain policing services to address the security and policing system in the context of a devolved system of government, and be responsible for public safety and security within the county informed by local dynamics of security challenges. Also, this policy pledges to decentralise and strengthen judicial, prosecutorial and other criminal justice systems at county level to expedite and facilitate fair, easier access to justice and resolution of disputes.
The NASA leader promises to institute comprehensive land reforms to ensure accessibility of resources fairly by all citizens, create a transparent land and property registry at the county level, and enforce equitable share of natural resources. His policy will also seek to strengthen the National Land Commission and set up mechanisms to tackle not only the historical land injustices but also the broad spectrum of human rights violations related to land matters.
On youth and employment solutions, Raila notes that even with technological advancement in the world, two-thirds of all jobs are still in the middle and lower skills range. Initiatives such as the NYS, Youth Fund, etc, are outdated and irrelevant. To him, when you look at the data, this country has a deficit of more than 300,000 well-trained artisans and technicians in various sectors. These are the real productive people who are needed on a daily basis.
Raila pledges a sustainable long-term programme of building a knowledgeable, innovative and skilled labour force. He promises to move away from artificial pacifying solutions to young people’s employment problems to comprehensive apprenticeship policy a programme that builds strong partnerships between the county and national governments, university and colleges and the private sector (industry). Apprenticeship should be open to persons of all age groups within the statutory school-leaving age. Raila notes that these apprenticeship programmes will offer an industry proven approach to prepare young people for careers, while meeting employer’s need for a high-skilled workforce. Students will work directly with county and national government departments as well as in the private sector. The programme, dubbed E Learn, Work and Earn for a Sustainable Inclusive Green Economy in the 21st Century will be based on different career pathways that are tied to industry sectors.
Raila’s vision for Kenya’s new Foreign Policy adopts a progressive human rights-based policy with well-grounded foresight to advance the country’s strategic, trade, economic and security interests regionally and globally.
On health and education, his policy is to partner and work with the counties to develop capacity and increase resources to improve quality, accessibility
and affordability of healthcare and education in public facilities. He wants to modernise primary and secondary schools, ensure the teacher to student ratio is improved, quality of teaching and good and safe school infrastructure and effective localised management. Finally, Raila strongly stands firm for gender and intergenerational equity.