With opinion polls projecting a tight contest, presidential candidates are intensifying their pitches with populist campaign promises, emphasising what they will accomplish within the first 100 days in office, if elected.
The two main contestants, Deputy President William Ruto of the Kenya Kwanza Alliance and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga of Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya Coalition, are both touting initiatives targeting the poor, women, youth, small-scale traders and incentives for manufacturing, agriculture and other key economic drivers.
However, none of the two candidates have provided specifics on how they will navigate proposals that require passage of laws by the National Assembly and Senate. They have also been vague on where the billions required to actualise proposals that pander to special interest groups will be secured from an already strained national budget.
Within his first 100 days in office, Dr Ruto has pledged to establish a Sh50 billion Hustlers’ Fund, allocate 50 per cent of his Cabinet to women, implement the problematic two-thirds gender rule for appointive and elected officials, and halt allegedly selective investigation and prosecution of corruption cases.
He is also promising to allocate his Deputy President and proposed Prime Cabinet Secretary Specific portfolios and responsibilities, establish a women rights agency in the Presidency and remove healthcare insurance restrictions.
He will also allocate funds to all the 47 counties for realisation of economic charters, and appoint the six nominated judges that President Uhuru Kenyatta rejected, leading to conflicts with Chief Justice Martha Koome and her predecessor David Maraga.
In his first 100 days, Mr Odinga will approve funds to increase the monthly stipend for needy families from Sh2,000 to Sh6,000, absorb all jobless teachers into the government payroll, re-introduce Guaranteed Minimum Returns for farmers and roll out universal health insurance care dubbed “BabaCare”.
The ODM chief has also vowed to tame the national public debt that is bound to hit Sh12 trillion by the time the Jubilee administration vacates power, improve security, fight corruption, introduce a digital economy, support Medium and Small Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) and introduce a livestock insurance scheme.
For millions of voters, the question between now and August 9 is whose formula will lead the nation to the “Promised Land”. While Mr Odinga released the expansive Azimio manifesto on June 6, Dr Ruto has so far only outlined his vision at campaign rallies.
“Our major problem is failing to accommodate the ordinary person and that’s why I’ll bring them on board very fast through structured engagement. There are those who say that it is not possible to actualise the two-thirds gender rule. I will only need 90 days in office to have it and 180 days to fully encompass it across the board,” the DP said in an interview with NTV on Sunday night.
Realisation of the constitutional requirement that at least two thirds of elected and appointed officials be of opposite gender has been a sticking point since the new supreme law was promulgated in 2010.
Especially difficult has been concurrence on a formula to ensure equal representation of women in Parliament.
Dr Ruto has also promised other goodies for women in an attempt to neutralise the boost won by the Odinga campaign after naming of Ms Martha Karua as his running mate.
“Women will have a commissioner who will guide them on investment, succession and pursuit of their value chain right from the grassroots. Sanitary pads will be issued free of charge to all schoolgirls, while teen mothers will be funded to actualise their dreams.”
Dr Ruto says he will set aside Sh30 billion to uplift two million small-scale farmers by giving them Sh15,000 each in subsidies towards attaining food security.
Settled with comfort
Automating the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) will net more than Sh3 trillion to fund the Hustler agenda, he says. He also promised ensure President Uhuru Kenyatta is settled with comfort and security in retirement.
On his part, Mr Odinga says the cost of living will start coming down within days, his main focus being fuel, flour, mobile data and energy. The Azimio candidate also promises to expand free education to high school and university, and institute life sentences for poachers.
Dr Ruto and Mr Odinga’s main tasks are fighting corruption, empowering women and the youth, creating employment, rejuvenating the health sector and entrenching good governance.
The DP promises to reform the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), the Office of the Attorney-General, the Office of the Auditor-General and the National Police Service (NPS) to give them “real” autonomy and financial independence so as to effectively discharge duties devoid of directives from State House.
He has been accusing the authorities of selective investigation and prosecutions, with many key figures in his political entourage under the cloud of corruption probes.
On his part, Mr Odinga proposes to slay the dragon of graft by signing an anti-corruption charter with security agencies. He will ban public servants from engaging in businesses that put them in conflict of interest.
The Azimio leader will waive regulatory and licensing fees for youth-led manufacturing innovations, while Dr Ruto will partner with development partners to establish cottage industries.