In less than a fortnight, the Jubilee administration will be nine months old. In terms of mankind’s cycle of life, such a duration is significant in a familiar, optimistic, affirming way.
For this reason, I have taken this opportunity to share with you my expectations for the New Year.
The work of government centres on three phases: constitutional implementation, Vision 2030 and delivery of the pledges in the Jubilee manifesto. The first entails the discharge of the sovereign mandates of the people of Kenya instituted on August 27, 2010.
It is our duty and honour to have this opportunity as government to serve the people and observe their sovereignty at all times.
We take this solemn duty very seriously, and are keen to see it through in full. The letter as well as the spirit of the constitution is going to be manifest in the programmes and policies of the government.
There is no turning back on this one. In 2014, therefore, we intend to actualise those programmes and strategies that will ensure that the rights of the citizen are optimally realised.
At the same time, it is our desire that devolution takes root and becomes a fully-fledged national culture. I expect to see the full social, economic and political benefits of devolution demonstrated in the coming year.
The confusion surrounding the philosophy and logistics of devolution have nothing to do with its impracticality. Rather, it has everything to do with the fact that devolution is easily the most visionary, potent and transformative innovation in our constitution, requiring a dramatic about-turn in the way we have handled various issues as a country. Therefore, I see the contestations surrounding devolution steadily resolving into seamless governance. We will, therefore, be keen to continue giving devolution the push required to impart a transformative momentum.
Our government pledged to be the Trustee of Kenya Vision 2030. I am sure that few Kenyans doubt the sincerity of this pledge given the priority we have assigned to projects connected with the Vision 2030.
As I have continued to participate in activities touching on Vision 2030, I have become more and more persuaded that as it stands, the development roadmap is our best opportunity to turn our backs on a past of wasted opportunities and head towards a future replete with promise.
Moreover, I am utterly convinced that Kenya can, with discipline and unwavering focus, execute the Vision well before 2030. In fact, I see 2020 as an attainable target.
Naturally, there is quite a bit of political self-interest in accelerating the implementation of the constitution, and of Kenya Vision 2030. First of all, it will do no harm at all if, in a very short time, we are able to offer Kenyans an enriched social, economic and political space to realise their individual and collective aspirations.
Everybody wins in such an outcome. Additionally, we have purposively evaluated the constitutional implementation programme as well as the Kenya Vision 2030 and found plenty of opportunities to execute the Jubilee manifesto and secure “quick wins”.
For this reason, expect us to be dead earnest about the pledges we have made and our stated commitments in terms of the constitution and Vision 2030. I disclose this interest on our part to demonstrate the seriousness of our commitment. For our government, there is no turning back.
There are many challenges to these expectations. We need a stable political environment in which to work. Nothing distracts and enervates as effectively as volatile, high-stakes political contest in the middle of a constitutional term. The President and I have consciously moved to foster a cordial and sedate political environment.
We are reaching out, and are reluctant to engage in the sort of drama solely aimed at demonstrating superiority for its own sake. We want bipartisan, constructive engagement, which does not infringe on the mandates of Official Opposition.
In the midst of all the wrangling, posturing and confrontation, I believe that there is opportunity for leadership to engage in a forward-looking, statesmanlike manner.
Another challenge we face is insecurity. Whilst we are taking comprehensive measures to combat domestic criminality, I want all Kenyans to consider the fact that our external threats increase every day, and to reflect on their role in securing the nation. Terrorists have not hidden their desire to inflict destruction and suffering on our land. We are doing all we can as a government, and as a member of active multilateral coalitions to contain the threats regionally and domestically. This effort will be duly escalated to guarantee national security, which we need to develop.
As we celebrate the pact recently signed in State House, Nairobi, which effectively brings peace to the DRC and bolsters the stability of the Great Lakes, we must lament the threat of relapse into civil war in South Sudan.
Our brothers and sisters should be able to enjoy the respite from conflict afforded by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Homemade political solutions are required to restore stability in South Sudan.
A significant worry is the effect of a scramble for the country’s natural resources in catalysing instability. All I can do at this point is to call for all international players to be responsible, and remember the humanitarian gravity posed by a volatile region.
Kenya is involved in a number of infrastructural and other bilateral collaborations with South Sudan. Our development agenda is staked on a stable region. We will stand by our brother state as usual, and do our part in contributing towards its greater progress and stability.
Our economy is looking up. Everything we do now – each one of us – adds to the generation of greater wealth for our nation. I urge all Kenyans to work with the energy and urgency that the President and I share because we are at a unique historical juncture.
We are continuing to lay a foundation for greater growth throughout the country. The youth, women, the disabled and the traditionally marginalised now have the space they need, together with appropriate affirmative amenities to play a full part in generating double-digit economic growth.
With God’s help, therefore, I expect us to generate surplus agricultural production. I also expect that industrial output will bolster our balance of payments.
Our private sector will continue to lead in innovation, production and economic governance. I want, more than anything else, to see significant movement in our economic growth projection, taking us as close to the double-digit promise as possible. I expect less corruption and wastage, and a more robust law enforcement to protect economic activity. I expect Kenya to maintain its exemplary pace in regional integration initiatives, and to be an integral part of an energised Pan African charge.
In 2014, I want Kenyans to be more secure, better fed and healthier.
More children will spend more time in school, and more workers will be engaged in production.
The President and I will do everything we can to put more shillings in each Kenyan’s pocket in 2014.
Happy New Year.
William Ruto is Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya