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Media round table: This is what Uhuru should tell Kenyans : The Standard



MOMBASA KENYA: President Uhuru Kenyatta will this evening hold a round-table conversation with journalists from the Coastal City of Mombasa – where he is vacationing, and working.

The event will be broadcast live on KTN News and streamed on Standard Digital and KTN News Kenya Facebook pages from 7:30 – 8:30 pm.
A statement sent to media houses from the Office of the Spokesperson at State House says Kenyatta will discuss: progress of the Big 4 Agenda, the building bridges initiative and the war on corruption. The Head of State will also give a review of the year and outline Government expectations in 2019.
This media roundtable should set the agenda for what President Kenyatta will talk about during his 2019 New Year address next week. 

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Recently, President Kenyatta asked the media to position Kenya positively.
While presenting the World Bank ease of doing business report at State House Nairobi on November 1, 2018, Kenyatta appealed to the media to put Kenya’s interests first when reporting.
Tonight’s roundtable should be seen an endorsement that Kenyatta sees the media as a crucial player in not only setting the agenda, keeping his Government accountable, but in telling the stories about Kenya.  
What Kenyatta should discuss with the media on live television 
And, many issues there are.

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First, there is the much talked about Building Bridges Initiative. After the task force was gazetted in May 2018, seven months later, what do they have to show? Stakeholders forums kicked on in early November with a disclaimer that they will not be able to collect views from all 47 counties. Question is, is all voices are not heard, how will we build the bridges?
Moving on, tonight, Kenyans will expect the President to address the stubborn speculation on the possible spinoffs of his March 9 handshake with former archrival Raila Odinga.
This would range from the implication of the patch-up on his MoU with Deputy President William Ruto understood to have guaranteed his support for the DP’s go at the presidency come 2022.  Of course, he may steer away from the topic and dwell on the success of the handshake in stabilising the country but the speculation will not simply go away.
Recent utterances by Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka, Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa, Cotu Secretary-General Francis Atwoli and Jubilee Party Vice Chairman David Murathe to the effect that Ruto’s ascendancy to the presidency was not automatic have thrown a spanner in the works.
Mr Murathe is largely considered to be the president’s confidant, meaning his sentiments carry considerable weight.

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Still, on the handshake, a large constituency will be eager to know what becomes of ODM’s Raila Odinga in the emerging power configuration.
Talk of a referendum with a view to changing the constitution to create a broad-based government and, therefore, more political inclusion is in their air. It can, therefore, not be wished away. Indeed, a referendum would cost billions of shillings besides polarising the country – something the handshake sought to heal.
The economy and Kenya’s debt
On the economy, the burning issue is the cost of living and the debt burden. We recorded our highest public debt in 2017 with the Central Bank of Kenya putting the government’s internal debt at Sh2.22 trillion in November  2017 while the external one at Sh2.31 trillion.
How we to reduce the debt should feature as a key discussion during tonight’s roundtable as should the rate of inflation that shot up from a low of 3.73 per cent in April to 5.58 per cent in December 2018.

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How fast can Kenyatta deal with corruption?
Having declared a no-holds-barred war on corruption, we will expect insights on how to win. Clearly, the dragon of corruption will not go down without a big fight.
During his 2018 Jamhuri  Day speech, Kenyatta told Kenyans that bilateral mutual legal assistance agreements have been signed with a number of countries. 
Kenyans have this year seen many high profile corruption cases. Question is, how fast can investigations and the Judiciary move? Kenyans are certainly eager to see a “big fish” convicted and jailed. At that point, we will truly believe that the dragon of corruption is falling. Over to you Mr. President!
Pet subject – “Big Four” Agenda
Kenyans certainly know about the “Big Four” that he unveiled in 2017. We are certainly waiting for tangible results. Kenyans want to feel the “Big Four”.
On manufacturing, where are we on “Buy Kenya, Build Kenya”? How many investors have opened shop in Kenya? How many Kenyan brands are we exporting? A look at the shelves of retail outlets can tell you how many Kenyan brands are being manufactured. Has this translated to jobs? How many?
A TIFA year-end poll released on Thursday 27th December showed that 56 per cent of Kenyans described 2018 as a bad year. The main challenge was unemployment, lack of access to credit and poverty. 
Regarding the provision of affordable housing, Kenyatta has told Kenyans that in the last 12 months, his government has laid an appropriate legal and policy foundation. We are all waiting to see how the private-public partnership will work. How will the mortgage facilities be structured?
Now that the Kenya Housing Development Fund has been passed by the National Assembly, what next? It seems Kenyatta’s government is running into headwinds after COTU and KNUT opposed the statutory salary deductions that are central to its success. How will the President navigate round this one?
While at trade unions there is the matter of an impending strike in January 2019. Kenyans expect to hear the way forward.
Then there is the issue of Food Security, the third pillar in the “Big Four”. When will Kenyans feed themselves? The debacle about maize has left many farmers with a sour taste. The rains this year means there will be a bumper harvest. Is the Government ready to buy the maize?
What happened to the irrigation projects? Sadly, we still depend on rain-fed agriculture. If this does not change soon, we are in trouble even as we deal with the effects of global warming. How fast can we move Mr. President?
On affordable healthcare, it is good Universal Health Care pilot projects were launched in Isiolo, Kisumu, Nyeri and Machakos Counties. However, Kenyatta has to tell us what the Ministry will do about increasing ICU beds. For a population of 45 million, there are only 155 ICU beds! This is despite the government spending Sh 38 billion to equip 98 hospitals with modern infrastructure. 
All eyes on President Uhuru Kenyatta as Kenyans anxiously wait for answers!

President Uhuru KenyattaUhuru in MombasaUhuru Media

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