The handshake shook opinions and divided allegiances, albeit internally. It was unprecedented, and the change of direction from President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga was abrupt, no one expected it. In the political field, major seismic actions are preceded by rumours and whispers that set agendas and prepare the electorate for what may happen next, this time around, there was nothing like that, and this wasn’t widely expected, as the two political supremos thrashed their differences and embraced a united front.
What could be predicted though, is the resounding effect it would have within the political circles and the country’s top administration. What many may have expected was a peaceful environment that could have propelled the development agenda to the next level, but it hasn’t been a clear road. Kenyans from all walks of life must benefit from the new-found cooperation between the top brass, and each and every effort laid out by President Kenyata should seek the benefit of Kenyans.
The target remains clear and the mission untainted, but the road has proved to be rocky at best, for the optimists, it shows the government has set its sight on a good course. Part of the gravel that makes the path to the full realization of development is corruption, and the usual suspect, 2022 politics. The latter is partly ingrained in many politicians’ minds, despite calls for them to focus on the current state of the nation and the targets set to achieve progress. The first, however, is the thorn in the flesh for the government and every concerned Kenyan.
Corruption has run its roots deeper than any other vice and uprooting the roots has proved to be a tougher ask than first imagined. As the country’s eyes remain fixed on the contraband sugar saga, there is another elephant in the room, in the name of the lifestyle audit. Even before the handshake path was properly laid out, there were murmurs from Deputy President William Ruto’s faction, concerning the presence of Raila Odinga in the deal. Some viewed it as a ploy to wrestle control ahead of the 2022 elections.
A quick glimpse months later, and the narrative concerning 2022 politics that set out to create miniature cracks within Jubilee is once again creating cracks, bigger this time round in the party, as some leaders see the lifestyle audit as a concerted effort to target Deputy President William Ruto. President Kenyatta raised the stakes when he ordered that all procurement and accounting officers in Ministries, state departments and agencies should step aside to pave way for fresh vetting as the war on graft took a higher step, then, almost unexpectedly, he said leaders should undergo a lifestyle audit.
Words move and penetrate even the most peaceful atmosphere, and one wonders what the President’s order did to leaders who had the view that DP Ruto’s strong presidential leverage ahead of 2022 was becoming untenable. A cold war of sorts emerged as leaders traded accusations, and Senate Majority leader Kipchumba Murkomen had his views to share. The Elgeyo Marakwet Senator said there are people in the office of the President who intend to divide the President and his Deputy, casting a negative view on the policy of lifestyle audit.
Cherangany MP Joshua Kuttuny recently faulted Jubilee leaders who are creating divisions in Jubilee, adding that DP Ruto is more than ready to take a lifestyle audit. What this guarantees for a certain period is an elevated political mindset from the leaders we expect to serve us and as clearly laid out, this position won’t help anyone, at all. The question remains, however, will Kenyans benefit from any of this? And if we will, when will we reap the benefits?
A lifestyle audit is a brilliant idea, as brilliant and fresh as the best innovation you can name, and there are many because it’s a fresh idea that turns the barons’ bellies inside out and shifts attention to the pockets and management of even the most ‘silent’ leaders. It’s still an idea, up to this point, whether it becomes more than this, remains to be seen, and whether Kenyans will benefit also remains to be seen. The fact that ideas that are meant to positively impact the nation’s progress are already being politicized at every tune doesn’t bode well for Kenyans, who are unemployed, lacking basic amenities and good access to healthcare, the elderly, and financially disadvantaged among others.
Eyes are constantly shifting to power struggles, as leaders seek to gain an advantage over others, every proposal from the government to fight corruption and set up new structures is seen as shadow politics. It may be that the government has political agendas that it’s accomplishing by certain agendas, however, at the moment, it seems that the politics may well overshadow the gist of the matter, development and tangible progress for every Kenyan.