Economics not Politics

It must be said that the current government is looking good to farmers in several rural communities.

While us urbanites are concerned with issues like corruption, governance, broadband, media freedom, mercenaries etc., farmers just want to earn a decent living from their hard work – and this government has made several right moves.

One of these was to revive the Kenya Meat Commission and another was during the recent drought when government agencies were out buying livestock to minimise farmer’s losses.

For dairy farmers, the turnaround has been very dramatic. Where a few years ago milk was selling at 7 shillings per litre, farmers were pouring milk by the roadside as the industry had very low capacity and could only process a limited amount of milk. Now milk commands 17 or 18 shillings per litre and there are many companies buying milk, and paying farmers on time, including a revamped KCC that is now able to process and distribute milk nationwide after many years in obscurity.

If the government can sort out the greed in the sugar and coffee sectors and fix the country’s infrastructure (roads and railways) it will have connected with people’s stomachs which, in a way, matters much more than their minds.

Throw in other goodies like free primary education, Kengen & other IPOs, and the constituency development funds (CDF) and things look quite good. With the electorate wiser than ever, the 2007 elections will be harsher on MP’s, than on the government, and we are likely to see several dozen new faces in parliament in 2008.

Any MP who misuses the CDF will bear the brunt of voters as only a foolish or crooked MP can fail to make an impact with direct funds from the government at his/her disposal.

Even though there is still an unhealthy obsession with becoming an MP, and crowds of recycled/rejected politicians jumping parties to be in the right place, there are many new faces willing to taking the plunge into politics to make a positive difference.

The problem is that the government has such a poor image and even worse sales people – that even this simple message does not translate via the media. Also the message of economic prosperity is difficult to push through since cash handouts at election time are a necessary evil and the only way that old politicians perceive as a way to sway gullible voters. This is an expensive, misguided habit and old habits from old politicians die hard.

One senior official has just upgraded to the latest S-class barely month after the Finance Minister announced a cutback in government expenditure on limousines.

papa’s got a brand new bag

13 thoughts on “Economics not Politics

  1. kiplagat

    Its really ironic, in as much as this govt has managed to piss me off with all its shenanigans. My pocketbook is doing much better since they came in, thanks to dairy industry improvement & now with KMC’s revival things are even getting better.

    2007, who will I vote for?

  2. Mashatall

    Wholly concur that another term for the current govt. might be in order, so that they can solidify the gains made so far. Politically i dont feel the govt. but economically the moves made so far have really elevated Kenyans lives and the economy is humming along fine. Most of my friends have even settled back home and all they boast about is how good the opportunities are. I do agree though that we do need a lot of new younger breed of politicians with good ideas, to puch new agends that will be progressive for kenya. We need more Kimunyas,Tujus,Kirwas,Akarangas who in my opinion represent the new breed of younger politicians, not tainted by tribalism and corruption.2007 will be tricky for the opposition if they do not get their act together, Kibaki might slip back into state house for a final term !!!

  3. Mimmz

    Totally speaking my language. The govt has been wise. Once your pockets are all fixed, you’ll be quieter and can resolve the other issues maturely. Which (issues)by the way have not gotten worse since the previous government. On the contrary. That there’s so much noise from the urbanites is testimony that Nyayo house has been shut down, for real! Quite frankly some of the biggest issues have been inherited from previous regimes, not so?

  4. coldtusker

    The government is made up of many idiots including michuki & kibz.

    Whats is needed is not a change of parties as much as NEW leaders. The president should be able to appoint ministers who need not be politicians so they concentrate on running the ministries!

    I like the US set-up where the “Cabinet Secretaries” – equivalent to ministers – need not be elected. They tend to be the presidents’ men so as to promote the president’s policies.

    We need a new STRONG & HONEST president who can stand up to the corrupt.

    The govt has “bought” much of the agricultural reform by playing populist politics. At the same time give credit where its due i.e. the current govt has boosted agriculture.

    By “writing-off” huge loans owed by coffee farmers, kibz has bought loyalty among the voters in Central province.

    As an election sweetener the levies on sugar will shift from farmer to consumer & kibz will make the announcement to look like a saviour!

  5. Ken

    Banks I feel you, this has been my greatest concern for the government. It is free of hype and ‘I did this for you’ politics. And this may actually cost them votes in the urban areas and from the illiterate and misinformed electorate. I will sypathise the most with guys like Tuju if they dont make it to parliament next time round despite all their efforts to improve the welfare of their constituents.
    Economically Kibaki got things right, it’s on the promise of corruption that he just cant deliver.
    Politically he needs someone with a mouth as loud as Shariff Nasir, Odinga and Kajwang combined plus getting the media to focus on what really matters and not trivila issues.

  6. pesa tu

    I’m just back from K’la and saw the latest S-class there too(with a Ugandan Gvt.Official) It seems poor countries have Officials addicted to big ticket items.

  7. omwami

    Economics right but the govt was elected on a political platform the beauty of the game is to juggle both platforms its simply the name of the game political development

  8. bankelele

    kiplagat: Kenya is majority rural and if their stomachs are satisfied, their minds too.

    Mashatall: Not all ‘young’ politicans are good.

    Mimmz: They have also made mistakes

    Coldtusker: Your prognosis calls for a new constitution. Coffee is still not smooth sailing for farmers

    coldtusker: Uchumi MD selection processs was mysterious. They could at least have put an ad in the paper for the every qualified person to see and apply

    Ken: The messengers messing up the message

    pesa tu: That car looks good, I probably couldn’t resist if I hadd the chance too

    omwami: In this case, I think the economy matters more

  9. Anonymous

    i think wether the population is majority rural is debatable we have to define rural. i think that most of the popultion is nowadays urban and peri urban. and the political agenda is driven more by urban issues. so that u find that people reside in urban areas but vote in their rural most things in kenya alot of definitions and are still based on colonial constructs.

    The political agenda is urban the disatisfaction in govt is largely urban coz our governments have no urban agenda (our leadership largely grew up when urban centers were just temporary abodes)

    So we have a situation wherethe urban areas bear the brunt of reforms (taxes,transportation)but not the benefits (CDF) and are underrepresented(check the size of nairobi vs number of representatives) add this to the fact that 80% of tax revenue is collected in Nairobi (cehck the budget speech)

    so while CDF and other programs are good. i think the past few years have witnessed a massive transfer of wealth from the urban to the rural economy.

    a couple of thinsg are quite clear to me the population is getting more urbanised, more people are migrating to urban areas and even those in rural and peri-urban areas are tied into the urban economy and politics. The government has no urban agenda yet that where people are moving to. the politcal agenda is increasingly urban if you compare the 92 elections to the 2002 elections or those in between
    in the former MOI could afford to ignore the urban vote. in 2007 that would be suicidal.

    2007 vote will be decided in the cities.

  10. Joseph Walking

    kumbe here is where all the pro government bloggers have been hiding lol .Excellent story kenya times has a story on it today.kibaki will prove being a poor politician and a good economist is better than being a good politician and poor economist.Kibaki now needs to develop a strategy that sells his stronger points.ever sine LDP left government things have been looking up .it only goes to show that they were the problem

  11. Anonymous

    Still not convinced about the underlying dynamism of the economy. I do believe that the rural agricultural economy is on an up ticket however I am unconvinced that the growth in that sector is sufficient and deep enough to make a substantial dent in rural poverty. Here are my reasons:
    1) agricultural production and growth is estimated to peak at a year on year average of no more than 6%. Right now it is in the 4-6% range. The government has alluded to this itself, I’m not relying just on independent statistics. While noone is under the illusion that Agriculture should be the main stay of our economy, the fact remains it employs 60 to 70% of the labor force. To make significant strides in the rural economy, so that the overall growth in the economy of 6% translates to perceptible progress in the rural one, agricultural productivity must be in the 6 to 9% range over a sustained period.

    Otherwise you have what’s happening now, 6% growth and rising poverty levels (58% now) a la the Latin American economies of yesteryear or the India Shining model that fell flat on its face.

    The government is concentrating on the ‘new economy” i.e. Services (Telecommunications, IT, banking etc), Construction, light industry, Retail and Tourism…..but forgetting it must modernize the ‘old economy’ so that it plays a complementary role. Increasing efficiency and production of primary commodities DOES NOT CUT IT ANYMORE, getting more money for your gallon of milk is very fleeting and short term, modernizing agriculture and setting the foundation for agri-business and supporting industries in the rural areas has to be the medium to longer term vision and so far, such an agenda is not even as coherently defined as other peers on the continent.

  12. gathinga

    perhaps ‘baba’ has a strategy after all. Looks like pieces have started falling into place…..1.introduce free primary education 2. work on rural economy issues ie coffee, dairy, sugar, etc to deliver a costitution 4.let the opposition run around like headless chiken till they drop dead the elections easily against a divided and inflated opposition 6.retire as the most sucessful president economicaly in independent kenya.

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