Magazine article New African

Kenya: Has Kibaki Delivered? on 27 December 2002, Kenyans Elected a New Government, Headed by President Mwai Kibaki, Amidst Euphoria and Optimism. Three Years on, What Is the Score? Has Kibaki's Government Fulfilled Its Electoral Promises? or Has It Been More of the Same? from Nairobi, Wanjohi Kabukuru Takes an Indepth Look

Magazine article New African

Kenya: Has Kibaki Delivered? on 27 December 2002, Kenyans Elected a New Government, Headed by President Mwai Kibaki, Amidst Euphoria and Optimism. Three Years on, What Is the Score? Has Kibaki's Government Fulfilled Its Electoral Promises? or Has It Been More of the Same? from Nairobi, Wanjohi Kabukuru Takes an Indepth Look

Article excerpt

Not even the 1963 independence celebrations could match what was witnessed during the swearing-in ceremony of President Mwai Kibaki as the third president of Kenya in January 2004. It was the dawn of a new era, or so Kenyans were made to believe. Kibaki electrified the nation when he took the oath of office while convalescing and confined to a wheel chair. His speech is still ranked as one of the best ever given in the East African region.

The 2002 general elections marked a watershed in Kenyan politics. Twice (1992 and 1997) the opposition had failed to wrest power from the ruling Kenyan African National Union (KANU), which had been in power for 40 years. But 2002 was different. The opposition came together and formed the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC). Overnight NARC became the party of choice and ecstatically swept the electoral board in what would later be dubbed as "the second liberation". KANU was vanquished and NARC set out to achieve its electoral promises albeit with intense political jockeying within its ranks.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Three years down the road, the effects of NARC's leadership are evident across the country. According to NEPAD's Country Self-Assessment Report for Kenya, Kibaki's government scores highly in education, health and agriculture, but flounders in the fight against corruption and employment creation.

The free primary education policy which the government initiated a week after Kibaki took over power, has earned him plaudits and admirers all over the world, including Bill Clinton, the former US president, who said in a TV interview in late 2004: "I'd like to meet the new president of Kenya, because he abolished school fees for poor children and a million extra children showed up at school." In 2005, Clinton fulfilled his wish when he met Kibaki in Nairobi.

In economic terms--which is Kibaki's pet subject--the NARC government has made tremendous progress as it has redeemed the country's economic fortunes from a miserable 0.2% growth in 2002 to 5% in 2005. Agriculture, telecoms, transport and tourism sectors have been credited to be the main contributors to this economic turnaround.

Tax collection has also been enhanced and investor confidence has increased. According to the second Kenya Business Leaders Index poll, which was published in January 2006 by the Steadman Group (East Africa's leading pollsters), Kenya's 64-point ranking makes it the leading country in sub-Saharan Africa in terms of investor confidence. This is despite ceaseless bickering in the coalition and heightened political manoeuvring two years before the next general elections in December 2007. Says Adan Mohammed, managing director of Barclays Bank Kenya: "We are happy that despite the political bickering, there has been much progress on the economic front."

On the judiciary, to restore public trust, the government has sacked 23 blacklisted judges, 82 magistrates and 43 para-legals, and replaced them with untainted ones. Cabinet ministers now enjoy immense leeway in the management of their ministries, and public institutions have been allowed to function and flourish independently without executive interference. These changes have led observers to describe Kibaki's management style as "laid-back and hands-off".

In a span of four years, Kenya's democratic space and basic freedoms have been immensely enhanced. Torture and persecution of political dissidents no longer exist. But while many appreciate Kibaki's successes, his star has been dimmed by the incessant wrangling within the governing coalition, and the seemingly unbeatable corruption in high places.

NARC's troubles began soon after assuming office and have continued to this day. At the centre of it all is a pre-election Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which Kibaki, representing the National Alliance of Kenya (NAK), signed with their coalition partner, the Liberal democratic Party (LDP). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.