Immediately after the now famous Handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and NASA Leader Raila Odinga, it was announced that a joint taskforce would be put in place to actualize the commitments made by the two leaders in unifying the Country after one of the longest campaign periods we’ve encountered in Kenya. And true to their word, a 14-member joint taskforce has now been named.
Unfortunately, this worries me.
It worries me because I cannot exhaust the fingers on my left hand, if I were to count the number of past Commissions of Inquiry or Taskforces that weren’t a waste of our time and taxes. Looking at our history,taskforces seem to be constituted to simply act as rocking chairs that pass time until Kenyans forget about the issue at hand, or until the ‘public noise’ goes down. Some like the Tom Mboya, Robert Ouko and JM Kariuki’s commissions seem to have only served as diffusions to political tension occasioned by the death of these great men.
To be fair though, there have been some successful ones. One of them is the joint taskforce put together after the 2007/08 post election violence, which culminated to the Coalition Government, under the National Accord. Be that as it may, we are still a long way from effectively achieving Agenda 4 of the Accord, which relates to land reform; poverty and inequity; unemployment, particularly among the youth; consolidating national cohesion and unity; and addressing impunity.
Perhaps this would be a great place for the Taskforce to start, don’t you think?
Legal and Constitutional provisions under Agenda 4 of the National Accord may since have been achieved, like the promulgation of our Constitution in 2010, as well as the establishment of the IEBC, but we are yet to have frameworks that specifically address the rising levels of inequality in Kenya, the ballooning population of young unemployed Kenyans, as well as national cohesion and unity. And until the political class is deliberate about addressing these national issues, Kenyans should treat all other efforts as mere political rhetoric.
And how about their Manifestos?
Both Jubilee and NASA had manifestos in the last election. And I have had time to go through each of them incisively. The NASA Manifesto was big on ending extra-judicial killings, honoring past leaders who heroically struggled for our freedom, Zero tolerance to corruption, achieving food security and affordable healthcare among others. On the other hand, the Jubilee Manifesto listed some of its main promises as follows: 3 million jobs annually for the next 5 years, actualizing Free Secondary education for day schools, achieving 100% connectivity to electricity by 2020, a Mass housing scheme for 500,000 households; more transparency and accountability in all government procurement processes where citizens can follow live and track any government tender process. These were not the only promises made by NASA or Jubilee. These stood out for me, but there were many more that I haven’t mentioned. As you can see, with all these election promises made by their respective leaders in 2017, the work is already cut out for this joint team.
I personally don’t see the need to form a taskforce that will address the same problems currently being addressed by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC). Unless there’s something Kenyans aren’t being told, the 14-member team is about to start re-inventing the wheel all over again. Or perhaps this was the whole point?
I don’t know.
How the taskforce operates in the coming days and months will prove to us, whether it was meant to only be a lame duck, a diversion, or an honest attempt by Uhuru and Raila to right the wrongs made by their generation and leave Kenya a better place before they exit the political scene.
The clock is ticking away.