No president in history has been able to complete 100 per cent of all his or her pre-election or manifesto pledges. Some need even more than the prescribed two terms to deliver on most items in their first manifesto. In that case, they rely on the political goodwill of their successor to complete the projects they kicked off.
Actually, they spend their first year in office aligning their pre-election promises with the already existing projects started by their predecessors. Consider the example of a politician who is extremely popular here in Kenya: US President Barack Obama.
To date, Obama, despite making progress, is yet to close Guantanamo Bay, a promise he made in 2008 when he was elected for his first term. Obama responsibly ended the war in Iraq and promised to end the one in Afghanistan in 2014.
However, in October 2015, he delayed the US forces withdrawal from Afghanistan, again. Obama also abandoned a promise to direct revenues from offshore oil and gas drilling to increase coastal hurricane protection.
As he prepares to end his second term, Obama is yet to achieve his promise of ensuring that 10 per cent of US electricity comes from renewable sources by 2012 and 25 per cent by 2025 and establish a low national carbon fuel standard. These are facts well worth bearing in mind, when judging whether or not a presidential candidate deserves the continued confidence of his countrymen. For here in Kenya, with one and a half years to the end of his first term, President Uhuru Kenyatta is set to miss some of his targets.
However, it is important to note that a lot of the promises made in the Jubilee manifesto have started being fulfilled even as the President ensures that the projects by the previous governments are ongoing. As we move to the next election period, a lot of people will want to place a blot on the President’s achievements by revisiting the manifesto.
But even as we do so, we must be open to the logical conclusion that it is not about whether he achieved a perfect record, but whether he will have started and completed most of his promised projects. As we are all aware, the government has already ensured that the implementation of the pilot project for the laptops for schools programme has started.
The 150 schools that will pilot the programme have already been selected and the suppliers given the go-ahead. Ensuring the successful implementation of devolution was another key promise of President Kenyatta and which is going on well. The basic principle of devolution and the teething problems have continuously been addressed.
The promise of connecting more Kenyans to electricity is on course and more people have joined the national grid in the last three years than the 49 years since independence. The last batch of primary schools is set to be connected to the national grid by the end of April. The expansion of infrastructure that started during the Mwai Kibaki era has continued in earnest.
The Standard Gauge Railway is 65 per cent complete, while the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport
has new terminals and there are three new berths at the Port of Mombasa. The contracts for 3,000km of new tarmac roads have already been signed while other airports around the country have been renovated. President Kenyatta also promised that his government would work to create at least one million jobs every year.
Though this has not been achieved, the economy generated a total of 742,300 new jobs in both the formal and informal sectors in 2013 and 799,000 in 2014. Jubilee had aimed at an economic growth of seven to 10 per cent and it’s falling short of the target can be attributed to a slowdown in the global economy which has seen sub-Saharan African economies growing at around 3.5 to four per cent.
The World Bank estimates that Kenya’s economy will grow at 5.4 per cent in 2015, 5.7 per cent in 2016 and 6.2 per cent in 2017. The President also promised to deal with runaway corruption and we have seen some progress in this area.
Other than personally sacking Cabinet Secretaries who have been implicated in corruption, there are over 400 graft cases in the courts. There is good reason to be optimistic that a lot more will be achieved in the remaining time.
And with all this work in progress, President Kenyatta deserves a second term that will ensure that he delivers on all the promises he made.
The writer is a political and communications consultant. Twitter: @MachelWaikenda