Kibaki, Raila optimistic over crucial reforms

Published on 02/06/2009

By David Ohito

President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga set aside Coalition Government wrangles to pitch for unity, even as they announced key strategies to revive the economy and foster harmony.

Noting that external and internal factors had rolled back Kenya’s economic gains, Kibaki said he was optimistic that “we will soon have our economy back on the path of growth.”

Rallying Kenyans to the spirit of nationhood on the country’s 46th Madaraka Day, the President appealed to political parties and Kenyans to desist from divisive and partisan positions that may compromise the attainment of a new Constitution. On the coalition, the President said: “I wish to assure Kenyans and our friends that the Prime Minister and I are determined to ensure the Grand Coalition functions harmoniously,” Kibaki said.

His assurance comes in the wake of Cabinet ministers bickering over the delegation to Geneva to discuss the UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston’s report on extrajudicial killings in Kenya.

President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga are entertained by traditional dancers at State House Gardens, Nairobi, Monday. [PHOTO: PPS]

“A number of concerns have been raised over the state of the Grand Coalition. Historically, coalitions face challenges whose solutions depend on patience, trust, confidence and focus on the common good,” Kibaki said.

Raila said key reforms in the Judiciary, police, and land together with a new Constitution should be implemented to get the country back on to the path of prosperity and growth.

“We must have a new Constitution next year and deliver it to Kenyans as we promised.” Raila said.

The PM said the country must resolve to fight graft with vigour to enable Kenyans secure services without having to bribe.

Key measures

Kibaki maintained that key measures had been put in place to jump-start the economy.

“We are making strategic interventions in all sectors by fast-tracking the implementation of the first phase of Vision 2030,” Kibaki said in his address at Nyayo National Stadium during the 46th Madaraka Day.

Kibaki said the Government was implementing a number of multi-billion dollar infrastructure projects that will facilitate the creation of thousands of jobs and stimulate economic activities.

He listed special economic zones starting with Athi River and Dongo Kundu in Mombasa, the construction of Lamu Port, the Sudan Ethiopia transport corridor and the new standard gauge railway line between Mombasa and Kampala.

The President said ground breaking for most of these projects would be commissioned this year. The infrastructure upgrade plans begin with next week’s launch of the first undersea fibre optic cable in Mombasa.

Kibaki called for boosting of agricultural production to increase food security in the country and directed the Ministry of Finance to extend tax-free concessions for imported maize until the end of the year in a bid to keep food prices low.

“The Government is implementing measures aimed at reducing the country’s over-reliance on rain-fed agriculture by rehabilitating large scale irrigation schemes such as Kano, Ahero, Mwea, Hola, Bura and Perkerra irrigation schemes.” Kibaki said.

On the political front, Kibaki said a number of essential recommendations have been undertaken.

In the Judiciary, the president spoke of increased funding to the State Law Office, the Police, and Prisons Department to have a sufficient number of judges and magistrates to speed up the hearing of cases.

Sufficient numbers

Kibaki noted that other aspects of reform in the judicial system would be implemented once recommendations of the relevant task forces are received.

“More importantly, we must have sufficient numbers of investigating officers stationed throughout the country, ” he said.

The President said he was saddened by the continued loss of jobs especially in the private sector. “While we understand the difficult economic times we face locally, and internationally, I want to appeal to all employers to be more innovative in overcoming such times.”

Kibaki directed ministries of Labour and Finance to consult with Federation of Kenya Employers and the Central Organisations of Trade Unions to address lay-off of workers.

The President announced that a national census will be carried out on August 24 and asked all Kenyans to participate in the exercise to enable the Government to gather critical information for planning.

On Kenya’s territorial borders Kibaki said, “Kenya has the capacity to protect her territorial integrity and the welfare of her people.”

He asked Kenyans not to be warmongers but a land of people who cherish peace as an end in itself.

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