The style and Kenya’s political modus operandi is gradually evolving from the historically politicians’ controlled narrative to a more people centred and issue based approach.
Political leaders are now awoke to the fact that the respective societal sector concerns and engagement in shaping the national discourse is not an option as opposed to previous dramatised and venom spewing sessions while addressing the electorates.
For the first time and a case in point is the decision by a business lobby group, the Mount Kenya Foundation (MKF) to meet the aspiring presidential candidates for the 2022 general elections.
Despite being a regional lobby outfit, the concerns raised are not isolated to any part of this country, rather, the cited challenges are cross-cutting with the realities of the time being constant common denominators.
This sparks a positive bubble in molding an all-inclusive debate where all sectoral facets of the society may they be business oriented, think tanks, civil and advocacy groups, religious, professional groups and academia become critical cog in shaping the national political agenda.
However, it is instructive to note that these groupings should be active participants in offering solutions as opposed of being passive pawns of political endorsement in a big political game plan.
On Tuesday, the group chaired by businessman Peter Munga met the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga and are still scheduled to host the One Kenya Alliance (OKA) leaders; Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi (Amani National Congress) Baringo Senator Gideon Moi (Kanu) and Senator Moses Wetangula of Ford Kenya party.
During the Raila-MKF meet, if the past is anything to go by, the repeated pitched calls and clamour for nationhood, shared prosperity, economic revival and peaceful co-existence are rhetorical choruses thrown around for political expediency with no political will to action.
It is time to take the bull by the horns and genuinely address and implement measures to resolve the issues affecting the country.
As rightly submitted by almost if not all the speakers, despite the development projects realised and others under implementation phase, the country’s economy has been on a nosedive coupled by external factors like the Covid-19 pandemic effect globally.
The youth bulge, majority of whom are unemployed despite attaining the highest level of education whose growing frustrations is ticking a time bomb.
They comprise the largest population in the country whose untapped labour resource is being wasted away or manipulated.
The situation has been exacerbated by national fiscal policies on commercial borrowings, excessive local borrowing by the government that has denied the private sector the much needed access to credit, lack of synergy and concert of national government and county government policies not to mention the degenerating levels of corruption that has spelt a death knell to all the good initiatives.
Simply put, the issues ailing the country and possible solutions are known, documented but the blueprints are gathering dust on the shelves. What is lacking is the political will to implement.
To start with, economic revival and turnaround strategy to cushion businesses through meaningful safeguards like stimulus programs, review of the tax regime to be more investor friendly, fight against corruption and synergy between national government and county administrations is a must do at the bare minimum.
This stands to transform Kenya into a competitive export-led economy support by existing infrastructural developments of the Standard Gauge Railway, ongoing rail network rehabilitation, road expansion, last mile electricity connection, ICT backed fintech companies among others.
However, to achieve this, Kenyan business community need supportive sound policies championed by both the government and the private sector mainly on; access to credit lines for capital, address multiple taxation, fees and charges, lowered cost of production, prioritising manufacturing and value addition of agricultural products, adequate and timely trade networks and market intelligence to have an upper hand to take the lead both regionally and internationally.
Similarly, they also form the bulk of the 7.4million Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) currently operating in the country who contribute 34 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Most of these business have either collapsed of struggling to survive through unserviceable loan facilities.
There is no society that has ever progressed by relegating the professionals groups, think tanks, experts, academia advocacy and lobby groups to the periphery. Rather, they act as key component in policy formulation and supportive pillars in implementation of all national blueprints.
Diplomacy and Communication Consultant