Friday, June 6, 2008

Kenya job creation - Fri 6/6/2008

Revealed: Coalition strategy for wealth

Publication Date: 6/6/2008
Daily Nation

NAIROBI - The Grand Coalition is promising to create 800,000 jobs a year and spread presidential powers to other institutions under a new joint manifesto.

Prime Minister Raila OdingaThe new document has harmonised the pledges made by various political parties ahead of last year’s General Election.

The joint manifesto, expected to also provide a blueprint for Kenya’s economic development, pledges to extend electricity connection to one million households over the next five years.

President Kibaki is expected to launch the new blueprint in Nairobi next week.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga said Thursday that the document was the culmination of work that had been going on behind the scenes.

Poverty alleviation
Speaking in South Africa, where he is attending the World Economic Forum, Mr Odinga said: “The document is ready. It will set out the combined aspirations of the coalition partners for higher economic development and poverty alleviation in our country.”

A copy of the manifesto obtained by the Daily Nation, also promises to create a Truth and Justice Commission to deal with past injustices, including theft of public resources. It will also repeal laws that have criminalised the release of sensitive information that has in the past helped to expose corruption scandals like Goldenberg and Anglo Leasing.
It also promises to make Kenya the commercial hub of eastern Africa.

The creation of a Deputy President’s post is among the key elements of reforms in the policy document. The move is intended to be part of devolution of power, which will be part of writing a new constitution within a year. Another notable proposal is that people with disabilities should be nominated to Parliament.

Planning minister Wycliffe Oparanya is Saturday expected to announce the date on which President Kibaki will unveil the manifesto. This is likely to happen early next week.

The intended reforms are expected to complete the power-sharing formula between PNU and its affiliates and ODM.

Two previous attempts to create the post of Deputy President have failed. The first was through a Constitutional Amendment in 1991. The second time, this was proposed in the draft constitution that was rejected during the 2005 referendum.

Among the other reforms that the manifesto proposes to enact is the passing of laws to criminalise ethnic discrimination and to give local leaders in constituencies and local authorities the power to plan and allocate funds for development projects.

The Official Secrets Act will also be repealed to ensure free flow of information to the public. Another law will also be enacted to give wananchi free access to information as part of the campaign against corruption.

The setting up of the Truth Commission is intended to bring down the curtains on unresolved cases of the past, including corruption scandals, the murders of former Nyandarua North MP JM Kariuki and Foreign minister Robert Ouko.

Although the new coalition has pledged to create 800,000 jobs every year, this is likely to prove a daunting task considering that after the 2002 election, the Narc coalition was unable to fulfil its pledge to create 500,000 jobs a year.
Among other reforms proposed in the draft manifesto is a campaign to review Kenya’s foreign policy with a view to restoring the country’s tarnished image abroad following weeks of post-election violence in which 1,200 people were killed and another 350,000 displaced from their homes. Many foreigners, including tourists, fled the country at the height of the attacks. The industry is yet to recover from the after-effects.

And in line with the Political Parties Act, which will come into force next month, parties will be strengthened and funded by the Government to promote democratic competition.

The Government will also be required to publish an annual report showing public appointments in a move aimed at fostering ethnic and gender balance in the public service. This will include a 50 per cent share for women in all public appointments.

The document was prepared by the National Accord Implementation Committee, which was chaired by Internal Security minister George Saitoti and his Medical Services counterpart, Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o.

But the document expresses concerns over the Government’s inability to raise the Sh31 billion needed to resettle displaced families. Only Sh1.2 billion has been raised locally, leaving a deficit of Sh30 billion.

The programme, which was to run from March to the end of June, is behind schedule.

The President, Vice-President and the Prime Minister have endorsed the document that represents a synthesis of the policies advocated by the three parties during last year’s campaigns.

President Kibaki announced on Madaraka Day last Sunday that he would launch the blueprint next week.

Other key issues highlighted include encouraging transparency, accountability in the management of public affairs, citizens’ participation in governance, building leadership among the youth and entrenching a culture of democratic elections.

Claims that the December elections had not been manipulated sparked weeks of protests in which over 1,200 were killed.

Debate has been raging over whether those implicated in serious crimes during the protests should be prosecuted or pardoned. The document is organised in four main parts. The first section deals with economic policies geared at spurring growth.

The second summarises the challenges facing the country, including the need for better education, health, water services for the marginalised and vulnerable groups and anti-poverty measures targeting the poorest members of the society.

The third section provides a synthesis of reforms contained in the manifestos and fourth is devoted to the country’s foreign policy.

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