Amani National Congress leader and member of One Kenya Alliance, Musalia Mudavadi, fielded questions from the public via Sunday Nation.
The Opposition is dead, the civil society is comatose and there is no single soul in the land which has the spine to stand up against government excesses. Why have you not been able to fill that vacuum? Njoroge Waweru, Kikuyu
Your question kills the cow and then asks it why it cannot move, and drink water. It is understandable that you experience great despair and pain. And it appears to me that you were used to a certain style of Opposition and civil society, and aren’t comfortable with new approaches.
Opposition exists, not in the old ways of street demos, but in a pragmatic manner. I have said that I am the only man standing in Opposition. I meant it. But I don’t have to shout and riot to be heard.
I have spoken when the government has strayed. My focus has been on the manner the economy is being mismanaged to the extent that we are now in a debt trap with attendant horrifying over-taxation, and that Kenyans cannot afford basic goods.
So, if you are looking for a shouting league, I am certainly not a team member.
One Kenya Alliance (OKA) that you are a member of looks amorphous and is being driven by a hidden hand other than yourselves. Some of your critics have even labeled it the ‘Cerelac Coalition’. What does this alliance stand for? Brian Agumba, Katito
First, OKA is a self-propelling movement that is open to all Kenyans who share in its ideals. Second, OKA cannot be amorphous when it has a known leadership that operates publicly.
Third, the moniker ‘Cerelac Coalition’ is amusing, and we like it. The majority of Kenya’s 47 million people have grown up on cerelac cereal as children. OKA is, therefore, in good company. It is, therefore, counterproductive for those who wanted to slight us but it turns out it is an insult to millions. That label is helping us mobilise.
Fourth, the notion that it is driven by a hidden hand is propaganda. While others are second-guessing themselves, my partners and I have already set sail in the first alliance for 2022. So, there is awe and fear we will gobble the political space. To detractors, OKA has invaded the political space in such an unexpected grand manner that it must be strangled. But we don’t waste time on attempts to pull us back.
Fifth, OKA is largely an inheritor of the NASA dream. I am the progenitor of NASA. Hence, OKA seeks to promote, uphold, guard, and respect the dignity of all individuals and communities; return the country to the path of constitutional development; end the culture of impunity; and restore sanity in the management of the economy and public affairs.
Is it really tenable to push for the passage of BBI when we are almost one year to the coming General Election? Githuku Mungai, Nairobi
I signed onto the BBI but the jury is out there on whether the prevailing financial squeeze and lack of resources to combat Covid-19 pandemic warrants a referendum. It is also worth noting that there are no less than five cases pending before various courts questioning the legality and validity of the process. There is also a court order restraining IEBC from facilitating and subjecting the Bill to a referendum pending hearing and determination of the petition. Not knowing how long the restraining order shall be in place, and how long the other pending cases will be finalised makes it difficult to predict referendum timelines.
You have spoken out against the growing public debt. From your diagnosis, what ails the Kenyan economy and what will you propose as the remedy? Davis Basweti Ombane, Juja
I have consistently spoken about the rising public debt. From my experience, debt brings two main problems; one, domestic public debt denies the private sector access to credit for investment and job creation. Two; the foreign public debt puts pressure on domestic currency due to heavy demand for forex to repay the debts. The consequence for a net importing country like ours is the devaluation of our currency leading to an increase in the cost of living for already heavily burdened Kenyans.
Yet debt per se should not be a problem if we invested in productive sectors to generate jobs and revenue to repay the debts. But we have not invested loans in productive sectors. Instead, under pressure to repay debts, the government is imposing taxation that will kill enterprises, closing revenue streams, and taking away jobs for, especially, the youth.
Have your concerns on IEBC been addressed, with the process to fill the four vacant positions having started? Komen Moris, Eldoret
I still maintain we should never casually treat constitutional bodies like IEBC, with immense deleterious impact on the safety of the people. The patching we are trying to do may be too little too late because it doesn’t go deeper into ensuring IEBC is credible, resourced and ready to conduct free, fair and reliable elections. It doesn’t help that a section of us is bullying sitting commissioners and others bulldozing repairing of the commission.
You vied for the presidency in 2013, and Dr Mukhisa Kituyi was your national campaign manager. Now that Dr Kituyi has declared his interest to view for the presidency come 2022, can you support him? Edward B Wekesa, Bungoma County
Mukhisa declared his intent only months ago, while the ANC party endorsed me in 2019. I have expected his support. But fate conspired so that Mukhisa consulted me about his intention before my party endorsement, who knows, we could have had a conversation. Still, I would like him on my team.
What is your plan to bring youthful energies, talent, leadership and voices in decision and policy-making, governance and development? Raphael Obonyo, Nairobi
At the congregation of ANC executive arms last year, it was resolved that our activities must be geared towards making ANC a party of the youth. Since then, the most vibrant wing of the party is the youth league.
I hold youth close to my heart and have made it my business to be their political mentor. I am a beneficiary of being a youth; my father, older members of Sabatia constituency, and later Mzee Moi held my hand. I am a youth product politically. I was a minister at 29 years and at 33 years I was a finance minister at the worst time of Kenya’s economy. I reversed the economic downturn. I want to encourage the youth to have faith and confidence in their abilities and numbers.
The International Monetary Fund recently recommended the downsizing of the public service. Is this the best thing to do? Dan Murugu, Nakuru
Things will get worse before they get better. Many are yet to lose jobs and livelihoods. Change will depend on election choices in 2022. If you choose the low calibre leaders, you will only prolong the agony.
Anytime you approach the IMF for relief, you are admitting your economy is stressed. Therefore, their intervention comes with tough conditions. I have asked the Treasury to share the conditions with the people because it is them who are going to shoulder the burden and suffering. We must get rid of theft, wastage, pilferage and misuse of revenue and loans. If I get my way, doing and talking about corruption will stop. I will make the Auditor-General’s report the final evidence against the corrupt. Once you appear in the report having participated in malfeasance, prepare for a defence in court.
Nasa members are fighting over political parties’ funds, is it not time that the kitty is scrapped? Dan Murugu, Nakuru
Scrapping the fund is not the solution because it will be rewarding deceit and punishing the growth of democracy. I propose that first; what is required is to review the Political Parties Act to make coalition agreements entered into by political parties binding and mandatory obligations. Second, expand access to the Fund for more parties by redefining qualifications to the fund.
If elected, what taxation measures would you implement to reduce the burden on Kenyans? Ann Njoki Njung’e, Limuru
The high taxation you experience today is not going into development but paying heavy public debt, which is almost equal to our total revenue.
But I am pragmatic. Before I think about the reduction of tax, I must first establish other sources of revenue. I would, therefore, cut out wasteful spending on remuneration, duplication and fake projects. I will put a moratorium on new projects until viability and source of financing is established. I will have established a debt authority as the only source of truth on debt; no debt would be entered into by a government agency without its approval. Loans will be project-specific.