Endless political campaign mode spells doom for development NEVER MISS A STORY
6 months ago, 15 Apr 00:34
The next General Election in Kenya will be on Tuesday, August 9, 2022 — or might I be missing something? This might be the logic of Kenya’s new constitution, but Donald Trump and his ilk have whipped endless political campaigns into a frenzy. And Kenyan politicians are joining Trump’s train, making it feel like the 2022 race is next week. The real – and perhaps only – casualty of Kenya’s new “permanent campaign” mode is President Uhuru Kenyatta who faces the risk of being pushed and shoved down the dark alley of a lame duck presidency at the crack of dawn of his hard-fought second term, and even before he unfurls his legacy – which he must as potentially Kenya’s youngest presidential retiree at 60 in August 2022. It is now official. Kenya has entered the age of “permanent campaign”, which is blurring the dividing line between the governing time and campaigning time. 2022 ELECTION Kenyans are now receiving a customised daily Twitter message: “In case you missed it”, from the those jostling to succeed President Kenyatta. Daily headlines read like the morning of a day on August 2022: “Key players in the race to succeed Kenyatta” (Daily Nation, April 10, 2018). Then, there are haughty headlines on claims and counter-claims about who is holding secret meetings, betraying or blocking the 2022 presidential bids. Kenya has barely recovered from perhaps modern history’s most protracted electioneering, the 2017 double election (the General Election of August 8, 2017 and the repeat presidential election on October 26), which lasted for nearly 130 days. As one of its hidden costs, the uncertainty spawned by the 2017 election exacted a heavy toll on the Kenyan economy, almost reversing the gains made in development since 2013. ECONOMY At the end of August 2017, the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa) estimated that Kenyan businesses lost up to Sh700 billion ($7 billion). In October, a month after the Supreme Court annulled Kenyatta’s victory, the International Monetary Fund cut its forecast on Kenya’s economic growth from 5.8 per cent to five per cent. Worse news came on November 7. The Kenyan Treasury revealed that losses from the prolonged electioneering period hit Sh130 billion, estimated at one per cent of the Gross Domestic Product. And the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) reported that it lost about Sh50 billion in revenue collection during this poll crisis, forcing the government to revise its economic growth prospects to 5.1 per cent in 2017. In the light of this doomsday scenario that the peace deal between President Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga on March 9, 2018 came, blissfully, as an auspicious moment for Kenya’s economy and society to heal from the long-drawn and haemorrhaging electioneering. PEACE DEAL Indeed, on the day of the handshake, the shilling appreciated against the dollar, suggesting that the African market is increasingly becoming responsive to the rhetoric and war-mongering by politicians. Far from ushering a post-bellum moment, the handshake has kicked off a new round of electioneering. To ...
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