Presidential Achilles Heels
When he came into power, Uhuru Kenyatta was asked which way he would be “looking” – East or West. The question was necessitated by the fact that he and his deputy were facing charges at the ICC and the West had spoken and acted in ways that demonstrated distancing itself from a country led by suspects. Even though the former president gave a noncommittal answer to the question, China saw an opportunity in Kenya, the virtual door to East and Central Africa. The Asian economic giant swooped in and before we knew it, mega infrastructure projects were mushrooming around the country some with Chinese writings which less than a handful of Kenyans could even read. At the twinkle of an eye, Kenya’s debt ballooned to unmanageable levels with whatever was used as collateral remaining undisclosed amid fears of a second colonization. Chinese residents in Kenya were untouchable gods who spoke rudely and even whipped Kenyans without consequence. Under the economist Uhuru Kenyatta’s watch, the debt crisis brought the country to the brink of economic meltdown. COVID 19 and the war in Ukraine only exacerbated an already calamitous situation.
The challenges that Kenya now faces need innovation, patience, strategy, and astute leadership. President William Ruto seems proactive in speech and in some of his actions so far. The drought crisis is one of the biggest challenges he has to deal with at the moment. His long-term answer appears to be Genetically Modified Foods (GMOs). But scientists are divided. Those that are opposed to turning to GMOs as a solution have given dire warnings against the move. Ruto, a scientist in his own right, once protested introduction of GMOs in the country. For them to be permissible, he said then that the prerequisite would be developing “our own local varieties using our own local expertise.” So why is he backtracking?
We know the West has tried to regain its foothold in the country after realizing it “lost” us to the East. Could Ruto’s reconsiderations have been occasioned by the pressure from Uncle Sam? If that is what the president is giving in to, he must be told he is on the wrong track. He risks driving us into a ditch. If the move is not informed by his own advice (quoted above) of back when he was the Minister for Agriculture, Ruto needs to be cautioned. If he does not retrace his steps, it is this scientific matter that will be the undoing of this scientist president. Hot on the heels of economic issues’ undoing of an economist president, this will be disastrous for Kenya.