The Kenya National Civil Society Centre (KNCSC) calls on the Kenya Kwanza administration to remain focused and address the pressing needs of the poor and vulnerable segments of the population that have been most affected by the increasingly unbearable economic situation obtaining in the country. Contrary to its often repeated statements and bravado that it wouldn’t be distracted by the opposition, there are tell-tale signs all over the place that the government is already derailed and resorting to underhand tactics for its political survival.

While inflation rate eased marginally from 9.10 per cent in December 2022 to 9.0 per cent in January 2023, and food inflation also reduced from 13.80 per cent in December 2022 to 12.80 per cent in January 2023, the fact that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased from 128.99 points in December 2022 to 129.29 points in January 2023 means that effects of price variations on the purchase cost of products consumed by most households went up, eroding any gains that may have been made on the reduced inflation.

It is instructive that these gains were made at a period when the political environment had thawed a little, with the opposition giving the newly formed government the traditional 100 days grace period to constitute itself and demonstrate that it can deliver on its immediate priorities. The first 100 days is significant for a new leadership, giving an indication of a president’s management style, priorities and speed in implementing campaign promises.

KNCSC wishes to remind H.E. President William Ruto that he rode to power on the crest of unrelenting food prices that had been on an upward trend from April 2022 (12.15 per cent) before jumping up to 15.5 per cent in September 2022 and peaking at th15.8 per cent, in October 2022, the highest recorded in the year.

In the foreword to the Kenya Kwanza Bottom up Economic Transformation Agenda 2022 – 2027, President William Ruto explained why he was seeking to be President of the Republic of Kenya, pointing out that “the number of struggling Kenyans now exceed 10 million, more than half the country’s workforce. If half of them are not productive, then it stands to reason that the economy will be like an engine firing only half the cylinders”.

While the President pledged, if elected, “to increase the average daily income of the 10 million struggling Kenyans by Sh200 per day, translating to Sh2 billion a day, and Sh730 billion a year”, what the KNCSC continues to hear with increasing decibels is the call to pay taxes before Kenyans recover from the economic meltdown and put money in their pockets.

The President also pledged to defend the Constitution, pointing out in the foreword to the Kenya Kwanza Manifesto that “it is my firm conviction that our 2010 Constitution is serving us well, and the challenges that remain are largely where we have resisted implementation”.

While the 2023/24 budget proposals state that “public spending will be directed to the most critical needs to achieve economic recovery and inclusive growth” the proposal to double State House’s allocation from Sh4.3 billion to Sh8.8 billion, and raise Deputy President’s Rigathi Gachagua’s office budget from Sh1.7 billion to Sh2.6 billion in the Supplementary Budget for the 2022/23 financial year, is the clearest indication that the funds being allocated to State House and the DP’s office will be deployed to luring members of the National Assembly and the Senate elected on opposition political parties rather than on the “most critical and pressing needs of citizens”.

The KNCSC is concerned that while the President has accused those in the opposition of attempting to undermine the free will of the people during the tallying of the presidential vote, President William Ruto’s continued luring of members of Parliament elected on opposition party tickets for which budgetary allocations to the Office of the President and his Deputy seem to have been increased, equally undermines the free will of the people that elected them on opposition party tickets. Article 4(1) is clear that “the Republic of Kenya shall be a multi-party democratic State founded on the National Values and Principles of Governance”, including the rule of law, accountability, participation of the people, human rights and good governance.    

Equally significant to note is that allocations for development projects that would have created the employment opportunities that the President promised in his coalition’s manifesto have been drastically reduced in the Supplementary Budget for the 2022/23 financial year by about 15 per cent from Sh715 billion to Sh609 billion, while raising spending on recurrent activities by 6.6 per cent, from Sh1.4 to Sh1.49 trillion.

Freedoms of association, assembly and expression of Kenyans are also being compromised as the government responds to intensifying criticism by the opposition. KNCSC has noted with concern that gatherings by Bunge la Mwananchi at the Jevanjee Gardens have been ruthlessly dispersed in the past by the police for reasons that have not been explained.

Call to Action

  1. In view of the foretasted, the Kenya National Civil Society Centre calls on President William Ruto and his government to focus on and allocate all available financial and human resources towards addressing the most critical and pressing needs of the people as pledged in the manifesto. Diverting resources to lure opposition MPs as seem to be the emerging trend only serves to undermine the Constitution.
  • KNCSC also calls on the Inspector General of the Kenya National Police Service to stop harassing ordinary Kenyans who gather at the Jevanjee Gardens to catch up on current affairs as Bunge la Mwananchi. With Uhuru Park and the Central Park closed for renovations, Jevanjee Gardens remains the only place where ordinary citizens can gather free of any charges to exchange pleasantries and catch on current affairs.