Written by UDF Party Monday, 04 June 2012
If we don’t reform our politics, we can’t grow the economy in any notable way
One of the most urgent needs for Kenya today is to reform the old politics. Having reformed the architecture of the State with a new Constitution, with judicial and police reforms well underway, with Parliament changed to two chambers, and with a devolved system, politics remains the last frontier for reform.
We must move away from politics of rhetoric to that of ideas, and from political parties built around individuals to parties based on ideology.
Generally, in society, if you exclude anybody, he or she will fight back, not only to remove you, but to take your place.To achieve inclusivity, we must do away with the politics of destruction. The zero-sum game nature of political discourse – that you must lose for me to win – has no place in modern Kenya.We want politics that ensures resource allocation is not based on ethnicity. That is why the Constitution is very specific on the mechanisms of resource allocation.
That is why a definite proportion of national revenue will go to my county whether or not voters in my county support the government of the day. That is the reason for devolution.So never again should a Kenyan fear that if his or her tribesman is not in State House, then all is over. Our rights are enshrined in the Constitution, and what we need is a team to implement it in the fullness of its spirit.
Kenya is today a world leader in development of IT applications, in mobile money technology, and in banking software.We should solidify this lead and move further ahead of the pack by having more efficient markets, improving logistics and becoming a hub for economic activity.
Let me give you an example. IT companies today take a day or so to move a spare part from a global hub in Europe to Nairobi.Once the part gets to the airport, it can take up to three weeks to clear it and get to a repair warehouse. How can we be an economic hub with such inefficiency?
We are looking for political leaders who can appreciate and help us solve these challenges. Above all, we are looking for leaders who will focus on creating jobs and wealth. The economic system designed by the colonialists cannot possibly work for us.It was designed to serve a small elite, and about eight million of us working for them in low-paying jobs. In the words of JM Kariuki, it was an economy for 10 millionaires and 10 million beggars.
So what is to be done? Change the design of the economy to serve the 40 million of us. Rhetoric cannot do it; ideas can. Courageous leadership can.Let me give you some examples. In the colonial economy, we imported vegetable oils to manufacture edible oils, soaps and so on. We still do so today – in fact, over $50 billion worth yearly.
Doesn’t that strike you as odd? Well it should, for we can produce all the vegetable oils we need. We can produce sunflower, cashewnuts and so on. If we do so, we shall create one million jobs in farming and 500,000 in processing.We import eggs, because the prices of eggs, bread and broiler chicken are higher than they should be. Why is that? Because the colonial economy used import duty to protect the colonial farmer, and these are still in force. A good example is the duty on wheat.
Hon. Ndiritu Muriithi Laikipa West, Member of Parliament and Assistant Minister Industrialization.