Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata is among the Central Kenya politicians who have been hurling blows at Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria over his assertion about below-par development in the Central region under the Uhuru Kenyatta presidency. Kang’ata, a noted reggae fan, went as far as to assert that what was accomplished there under both Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and Mwai Kibaki cannot compare with what has been done under Uhuru. That’s a bit rich. The senator is free to sing hosannas to the king. He should have noted, though, how Kuria’s observations have not been met with the expected torrent of condemnation by Mt Kenya leaders.
I listened to Kuria’s remarks in Thika town on New Year’s eve. They were typically provocative and in a sense below the belt. Coming from Gatundu, he has less to complain about Uhuru’s development record than, say, a guy like Kang’ata from Kiharu, who ironically only sees the value of effusive praise. The senator enjoys some rapport with the President, who found time to attend his wedding last year in Kiharu. The Murang’a County leadership represented by Governor Mwangi wa Iria was in attendance, as were local MPs. There was no reason why the local leaders could not raise pertinent development issues at the forum, unlike perhaps at a funeral. The ceremony came at a time the Governor was at the peak of his battle with Nairobi over tunnelling of water from local rivers without compensation. Yet Wa Iria never mentioned the matter in the presence of the President.
I have noticed Murang’a leaders rarely raise publicly matters of local welfare whenever they host presidential visits in their county. They would rather wax lyrical about their favourite pastime of succession politics and how they love Uhuru’s government to bits. Pre-“Handshake”, they would get especially vocal in castigating Uhuru’s opponents. At a time when there was a noxious proposal to relocate the main Nairobi dumpsite to Makuyu, none of them thought this was something they should fight to resist.
The case in Mt Kenya is not so much about lack of development as of glaring disparities in its distribution. A look at how hospitals are being upgraded will help to illustrate. A spanking new Level-5 hospital in Gatundu has been completed during Uhuru’s presidency. This facility is not too far from the other Level-5 facility in Thika. Kiambu town, too, has a Level-5 hospital. Note also that Level-4 hospitals are being done in Githunguri and Limuru, all in one county. Many counties in Central Kenya, including Kang’ata’s own, have to make do with one Level-5 hospital each.
Gatundu town also boasts a modern market built in record speed under a stimulus programme when Uhuru was Finance minister. So does Karatina in Nyeri County, where the long-delayed hub market which will be the second largest in the country after Mombasa’s Kongowea was opened by Uhuru last year. The President promised to be back in Nyeri soon to open the Level-5 (or is it Level-6?) hospital built by Kibaki in his Othaya constituency. This will be in addition to the Level-5 facility that was previously the Nyeri Provincial General Hospital, and a planned cancer centre to be built somewhere in the county.
The Murang’a governor’s devolution philosophy is not to bring home the big things, but the “deliverables” to local households, or “bringing cash into farmers’ pockets,” as he puts it. It is about support for avocado farmers through free seedlings and marketing. Coffee and macadamia growers also get marketing support and inputs such as fertiliser. His other focus has been dairy farming through milk buying centres and cooling plants. Fair enough. Still, a few flagship projects like a promised factory for specialty tea for export are important.
The trouble with Kikuyu leadership as a whole is that the best minds are not in politics. They are in business, and a few in academia.
Chief Justice David Maraga is always droning on and on about the importance of prosecutors presenting his courts with evidence sufficient to convict corruption suspects. His point about “shoddy” investigations that lead to acquittals misses the DPP’s arguments by a mile. The DPP is complaining about strange pre-trial practices where courts issue orders barring prosecutions such as in the Mumias Sugar Company case and, before that, the KRA tax case involving Judicial Service Commission member Tom Ojienda. A similar order temporarily blocking prosecution had been issued with regard to the DCJ Philomena Mwilu. In most instances, a particular High Court judge has been issuing the rulings.
Why blame the DPP for “shoddy investigations” when you don’t even allow him to test the evidence he has in court? The Judiciary is always harping about independence. But is the institution impartial? People are getting thoroughly tired with the Judiciary’s shenanigans. It is highly doubtful the anti-corruption war will be won with the kind of Judiciary we have.