National issues Uhuru never talked about on Madaraka Day
Kenya celebrates Madaraka Day on the 1st of June to mark the day in that Kenya attained internal self rule after being a British colony since 1920. Madaraka Day is a reminder of our nation's journey, struggles, pain, suffering, happiness, and victories for a patriotic soul. This year’s celebrations were held in Kisumu county where the president spent a couple of days before the celebrations launching a number of development projects in the region. In his speech which was divided into four parts covering the national conversation & burden of choice, economic acceleration, big push economy and restoration of dignity, the president failed to speak to the real issues that are currently ailing the country. Instead of addressing issues such as COVID 19 vaccination plan, post COVID economic stratergy, ballooning public debt, high cost of living and increased intolerance of dissenting voices, the president’s chose to attack the judiciary.
The president reminding us of how our forefathers, guided by the spirit of uzalendo, sacrificed their lives to fight for our liberty, preserve our heritage and ensure that Kenya remains independent. Without a doubt, it was a touching reminder of the bloodshed, agony, and pain whose fruits we enjoy to date. However, recalling the speech by the first Kenyan president, Jomo Kenyatta, during the same day, it is clear that the president deviated from the traditional meaning of the day and took on a selfish path to let out his anger against the Judiciary.
A national celebration like Madaraka Day should ideally not be an opportunity to engage in verbal wars that can aptly be resolved through laid down procedures. The president’s reservations against the Judiciary for ruling against the Building Bridges Initiative should have been left for the courts and not the podium. Mwananchi deserved better on such a prestigious day.
As Mwai Kibaki, the Third President of Kenya, once said, the Madaraka day commemorates the attainment of internal self-rule; without external powers. However, with the recent trends, it is clear that the country is receding into an era where the executive subvert the will of the people, the rule of law and undermines the constitutional powers of independent institutions.
The recent Madaraka Day celebration was a significant opportunity for the president to address actual matters that affect the country. Among these is the significant public debt that the government keeps accumulating. Kenya's state debt amounted to Sh7. 06 trillion as of June 2020, according to the 2021 Budget Policy Statement, this is equivalent to 65 percent of GDP. It was an an opportunity for the president to let the country know how the government is planning to spend the COVID-19 borrowed funds to curb the spread of the virus. It was also an opportunity for the president to inform the country of the steps taken to vaccinate the citizens. This was an opportunity for the president to assure Kenyans of their rights to health.
There have been notable effects of the poor economic status of the county to Kenyans. Visibly, the country is experiencing high fuel prices, which has a trickle effect on all sectors of the economy. The Covid19 situation does not help matters. The country is suffering from the effects of the virus to immeasurable extents. Madaraka day does not only involve remembering the pain; it also involves creating plans to address the current issues facing the country and devising strategies to emerge in a better position. However, the president failed to to inform the people of his government’s recovery plan from the Covid19 economic distress. What plans does the government have to caution people from the menacing pangs of the disease?
The president also left out a critical conversations on rampant human rights violation during the pandemic. There has also been an increased intolerance of dissenting voices from human rights defenders, active citizens and in the political sphere too. Human Rights defenders continue to be arbitrarily arrested and persecuted for airing their opinion online and COVID 19 rules applied selectively to silence political opponents. Kenya’s COVID 19 control measures have also been termed as intrusive and are likely to violate the people’s right to privacy and can be easily abused by the state. The president should have also taken time to in his speech to address these concerns.
Summarily, Madaraka Day should be a day of celebration, reminiscent of the past struggles and promising a better tomorrow. The president failed to address the critical issues that would have reassured Kenyans and pushed them to rise each day with hope. His mission to bash Judiciary was also unjustified, especially during such a day.