Kenya: An Economy on the Collapse?

Published on 14th October 2011

Graphics courtesy
The Kenya Government should act on its economy to avert a national Crisis. It’s indeed sad that more than 60% of Kenyans are struggling to meet the costs of basic necessities. Although I am not an economist, I was alarmed by President Kibaki’s speech in Othaya where he praised his economic legacy, an aspect which was also echoed by his Finance Minister.

Truly, are the two living in Kenya or they have a different meaning for economic downturn? Do the two leaders gauge the economic indicators of our nation based on their monthly income or bank accounts and individual investments? Their utterances are a big joke and an insult to Kenyan parents whose children are currently going to bed on empty stomachs!

Despite the fact that an Economist is at the helm of the Eastern Africa country, more Kenyans live in poverty than they did under President Moi’s rule. Thirty one million Kenyans are struggling to put a meal on the table. Inflation has skyrocketed; the people’s purchasing power is dwindling each day and the power of the shilling keeps plummeting daily. Is this the bumper economic legacy President Kibaki his boasting of after 10  years as Kenya’s CEO?  

A small class of Kenyans has mysteriously risen to riches through unscrupulous (corrupt) means- from middle class income people to multi-billionaires. The same class, accounts for over 40% of the Country’s Gross Domestic product. This is the genesis of the wide disparity between the rich and the poor in the Country.

Economic prosperity talk in Kenya is all fiction because the poverty levels in the country remain a paradox. Although corruption was rampant during Moi’s regime, people afforded the basic necessities of life like Unga, kerosene, and cooking oil.

It is worrying to have a government which does not understand the plight of its citizens. In any Country, when citizens cannot afford to feed and clothe, none can boast being comfortable or safe, whether you are a millionaire or a billionaire!

When life is unbearable to your neigbour and you live in material opulence, you must feel the pinch inside you if you are humane. This is what Kenyans expected to be a catalyst for our leaders to seek for a quick solution to help the hurting nation.

Not even the ruling class- the President, Cabinet Ministers, Mayors or Provincial administration heads will be safe when they go to Turkana, Mwingi or Kibera and see young kids gasping because of starving.

We are outraged by the government’s silence on addressing the low purchasing power and the skyrocketing of prices for essential commodities. This outrage will continue increasing even more than what we saw in 2008 as observed by a human rights activist Fredrick Odhiambo, who booed down the President during a national celebration. It will soon degenerate to the madness of an entire nation. Outraged people can do anything to drive a point-especially when they are hungry.

Kenyans who gave mandate to the current government will be justified to act in a manner that will prompt the same government to act especially in addressing the urgent economic crisis. They understand that it’s only through government’s world over, where citizens’ interests and aspirations are safeguarded.

That is why President and the Prime Minister whom Kenyans gave the mandate in 2007 to manage our national affairs MUST carry out their moral responsibility through commission, and get Kenya out of the current abyss. The two are like fathers in families looked upon to provide solutions to the negative situation in the Country. We will hate to see what is going on degenerate into anarchy or even a revolution which can paralyze the operations of the state.

Here is a distress call from hungry and angry citizens which must be heeded by the grand coalition government partners; the Finance Minister and the central Bank governor to do everything in their power to stabilize the Kenyan currency in order to check the current inflation.

It’s time to talk the talk and walk the walk. The Prime Minister who has been captured by the media in video clips promising the reduction of fuel and Unga prices must remember that Kenyans are watching his words. If they turn out empty, it will be disastrous when the right time comes. The President must see the reality and get Kenya out of  the current mess.

Nothing seems to be working-not even the recently signed Bill where the government will control the prices of essential commodities. Zero rating tax on imported maize hasn’t helped anything at all.  Political leaders tasked with working out mechanisms to solve the current problems have lost focus and are instead busy strategizing about the Kibaki  succession- it’s all about power and not the Kenyan people.

They have failed to remember that the votes they want in 2012 will  mostly come from hungry Kenyans who can do anything to make the country ungovernable. All revolutions seen in the world are triggered by the pursuit to overcome a crisis. From the Haitian revolution, French revolution, American Revolution to the match against Ferdinand Marcos and the ongoing Arab Spring; all depict a clear demonstration that people power cannot be taken for granted. People can employ all means to achieve what they want.

We understand all is not rosy world over; including the developed world like the USA, where for the past one week; angry protestors have carried out demonstrations in major cities expressing outrage over unemployment and the poor running of the nation's financial systems which they say is the reason for America’s economic downtrend.

However, the level of commitment from government operatives and legislators in Congress is extremely encouraging. In fact, the US Congress has been working even beyond midnight; trying to get a quick fix to the economic crunch. We expect to see the same from our legislators, the President, his deputy and the prime Minister if they truly care about the hurting nation.

By Joseph Lister Nyaringo,


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