Somebody asked me an interesting and valid question the other day. Will there be any need for manifestos and should we expect them from those who will be vying the presidency in 2012 given that we’re implementing Vision 2030 -our nation’s long-term development plan that transcends every government for the next 18 years? In answer to that question, we need to have a proper perspective on precisely what Vision 2030 is and what an electoral manifesto is and its purpose.
Vision 2030 is our nation’s collective aspiration. It is a depiction of the Kenya we want –a country that is globally competitive and prosperous with a high quality of life by 2030. Specifically, it is a holistic long-term development plan outlining broad economic, social, and political policies that are aimed at transforming Kenya into a newly industrializing middle-income country providing a high quality of life to all its citizens by 2030 in a clean and secure environment.
Vision 2030 was launched in 2008 by the Coalition Government meaning that the forthcoming general elections will be the first elections in which presidential candidates and their political parties will be required to spell out the measures they intend to institute in order to contribute to the achievement of the economic, social, and political goals of Vision 2030.
A manifesto is a declaration that is prepared by political parties and their flag-bearers setting out their strategic direction, policy ends and means, and outlines of prospective legislation should they win an election and form the next government. Electoral manifestos are normally short-term in nature and they outline specific policies and actions which are aimed at contributing to the achievement of a nation’s collective aspiration.
From the preceding, it is clear that come 2012 political parties and their flag-bearers must furnish us with their manifestos and based on them, the electorate should judge for itself which candidate and political party is best suited to form the next government. Since our nation’s collective aspiration is detailed in Vision 2030, 2012 electoral manifestos must be premised on it.
Vision 2030 founded on sustained macroeconomic stability, improved infrastructure, nationwide access to affordable energy, increase science, technology, and innovation, human resource development, enhanced security, enhanced equity and wealth creation opportunities for the poor, land reform, good governance, and excellent public service. Upon this foundation, the development we aspire to attain is built on economic, social, and political pillars.
The currently macroeconomic stability and stunted economic growth is a big disappointment from the Coalition Government and for Uhuru Kenyatta the minister for finance this is a damning indictment of his ability to lead our country into being a globally competitive and prosperous nation with a high quality for every citizen. Under the economic pillar for example, the target was to increase annual GDP growth rate to an average of 10% by 2012 and to maintain this for 18 years. Currently, the economic growth rate is at around 4% and the global economic environment is not conducive for growth. The 2012 electoral manifesto must therefore contain specific policy proposals that prospective governments will institute in order to achieve greater efficiency and attain this target as soon as possible and maintain it.
In matters infrastructure, the Coalition Government scores highly and the momentum must be maintained by the next government. However, the massive 1.2 trillion shilling Lamu port project regardless of how productive it is expected to be, may have little impact on income growth on north easterners unless the next government urgently puts in place policies that will enable them to capture an equitable share of the returns from that project. Moreover, development experts now believe that the next government must prioritise the rail infrastructure and it remains to be seen what prospective governments will prioritize in their manifestos.
In matters energy, the current peak electric power demand is 1180 MW and it is projected to grow at 7% annually over the next 10 years to reach 2263 MW by 2018. The plan is to increase the current 1050 MW to about 2000 MW by 2013 and 3000 MW by 2018. In matters energy, the Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, is in touch and is very supportive of the nuclear option which is something we must pursue if the we’re going to have a fair chance of producing 3000 MW at the end of 2017 which is when the term of the next government will be coming to an end.
Under the social pillar, seven key social sectors have been identified for intervention that is aimed at building an equitable, just, and cohesive society. In evaluating 2012 manifestos, the sectors to watch in my view are education, health, water, and equity and elimination of poverty.
Under the political pillar, the country aspires to have a fully functional democratic system of government that is issue-based, people-centred, result oriented, and that is accountable to the public. Under this pillar, the issue boils down to full implementation of the constitution and particularly the issue of devolution. Apparently, many in the PNU rank and file appear allergic to constitutionalism and devolution of power as espoused in our new constitution and given a chance, they will certainly overthrow the constitution.
The majority of voters will cast their vote based on party identification and the conclusions they will have arrived at from a superficial evaluation of issues. This is in and of itself very much alright except that politicians must desist from turning political parties into tribal outfits something which sadly lends party identification to tribal identification. But be that as it may, manifestos will certainly help voters make sensible electoral decision especially if they are produced in good time.