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History of Kenya: President Mwai Kibaki 10 Year Rule

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On December 30, 2002, Mwai Kibaki, was wheeled into the dais at Nairobi’s Uhuru Park, to a frenzied crowd that had come to witness the swearing in of Kenya’s third President.

Still recovering from near-fatal accident on December 3, the Monday afternoon event was the crowning moment for Kibaki after years in politics and it saw him succeed President Daniel Arap Moi.

In his inaugural address, President Mwai Kibaki, who had been elected on a National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) ticket said he felt honored by the overwhelming support he had received. Kibaki had garnered 62 per cent of the votes while his party won 132 seats in the unicameral parliament of 222 seats.

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“The task ahead is enormous, the expectations are high, and the challenges are intimidating. But I know that with your support and cooperation, we shall turn all our problems into opportunities,” said Kibaki.

Mwai Kibaki had inherited a tattered economy and a corrupt system. He promised to reverse the declining school enrollment, facilitate citizens to have access to basic and affordable health services and rehabilitate the dilapidated roads and other infrastructures.

Mwai Kibaki’s Achivements

Free Primary Education

The National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) had used the promise of a free and compulsory primary school education (FPE) for all children as its campaign stunt. One of the challenges that faced the new Kibaki government was on the large number of children who had trooped into classrooms stretching the capacity of learning institutions to the limit.

Free Primary Education

Free Primary Education

From the onset, President Kibaki pledged to bring supplementary budget before Parliament that would release some Kshs2.8 billion to schools to take care of the extra expenditure. FPE saw close to two million children, who had dropped out of school due to lack of fees, enroll in public primary schools growing total enrolment from 6.1 million in 2002. By the time Kibaki left power, the number of children in primary schools had reached 8.6 million pupils in 20,306 public primary schools.

As a result, the Urbanization rate from primary to secondary rose from 47 per cent in 2002 to a high of 74 per cent in 2012.

Revitalization of agriculture

After he got to power, President Kibaki promised to empower the farmers and expand the farming acreage. His other pet project was opening up of failed irrigation schemes and the mechanisation of agriculture.

He said: “We cannot continue applying farming methods of the 1900s in today’s world, when our population has moved from 9 million people to the current 40 million, while we have not gotten a single acre of land added to our physical land size.“

The Mwai Kibaki government rehabilitated and expanded irrigation schemes such as Bura, Hola, West Kano, Mwea, Nzoia, Ahero and Katilu. This increased area under irrigation from 119,200 hectares to 151,800 hectares. In addition, new schemes were opened up in the Yala swamp, Katilu and Lokubae in Turkana, Kibwezi, Masinga, Kiambere, among others.

The promotion of agro-based industries and agricultural exports became one of his pet projects. Despite difficulties of drought, and increased global fuel prices, the Kibaki government managed to put agriculture as a driver of the national economy.

In 2003, the number of people Who Were living below the absolute poverty lines of one dollar a day and were food insecure because they could not have access to one full meal a day was 56 per cent and 52 per cent respectively. By the time he left power, these numbers had declined to 46 per cent and 36 per cent respectively.

The budgetary allocation to agriculture ministry steadily increased from Kshs14 billion in 2002 to Kshs104 billion in 2012. The additional budgetary allocation was utilised to improve access to inputs, such as fertilisers and seeds, expansion of irrigation and post-harvest crop management.

There was also a marked increase in export earnings. Tea, for instance, rose to about Kshs110 billion in 2012 up from Kshs33 billion in 2003. The area under tea also increased from 131,500 hectares in 2003 to 187,855 hectares in 2011 while production increased from 293,700 metric tons in 2003 to 377,900 metric tons in 2011, an increase of 42 and 29 per cent respectively. The value of coffee exports also increased from Kshs12 billion to Kshs22 billion. The government also injected Kshs6.4 billion to cushion farmers against the non-performing loans, Kshs2.5 billion for Coffee Development Fund, and the revival of the Coffee Board of Kenya, and Coffee Research Foundation.

During Kibaki’s tenure, the annual production of maize increased from 30 to 37 million 90kg bags.

The liberalisation of the marketing of agricultural inputs and outputs in the country presented a great challenge to the farmers in marketing their produce. The government started a programme which enabled farmers to access affordable inputs through a subsidy approach and provision of market information. Through this programme, over 500,000 farmers were reached and Kshs2.18 billion worth of credit disbursed to 47,403 farmers and agro dealers.

Following escalating international fertiliser prices in 2008, the government intervened by venturing into bulk procurement and then selling the same to farmers at subsidised prices. The government started the Leather Development Council in 2010 to oversee trade in hides, skins, leather and leather-goods. Income from hides, skins and semi-processed leather increased from Kshs 2.4 billion to Kshs7.2 billion.

Constituency Developmet Fund

The idea of the Constituency Development Fund was implemented in 2003 after Kibaki took power. The CDF became an avenue to disburse funds to the grassroots and to every Constituency. Between 2003 and 2012, over Kshs120 billion was disbursed with far reaching implications.

Through the CDF programme, many health centres, schools, bore-holes and many other development projects were put in place.

Information Communications Technology

Of late, and during the Kibaki presidency, Information Communications Technology (ICT) has become one of the major drivers of the Kenyan economy. The sector experienced fundamental changes taking advantage of the liberalization in 2000. This resulted in tremendous growth both within the sector and other sectors of the economy, as depicted by the evolution of important sector indicators throughout this period.

During the Kibaki presidency, Kenya emerged as a regional and global ICT powerhouse. A combination of innovation, effective regulation and massive investment by the public and private sectors led to the rapid growth of mobile telephony as well as internet use.

The number of mobile subscribers in the country increased to 29 million, with close to 89 per cent of the population having access to mobile telephony. Mobile money transfer service, especially Safaricom’s M-PESA continued to play a significant role in the country by ensuring seamless transfer of money, mobile payments, among other transactions. The number of mobile money transfer subscribers is today over 17 million transacting close to Kshs3 billion daily through their mobile phones. This has made Kenya the number one mobile telephone money transfer country in the world.

The country is currently served by four mobile telephony network operators – Airtel, Safaricom Limited, ESSAR Networks and Telkom Kenya-Orange. The Internet segment also witnessed great development with an estimated 14 million Internet users up from a mere 200,000 users in 2002.

The landing of fibre-optic under- sea cables project in Mombasa was a landmark project. This provided Kenyans with equal and open access to inexpensive bandwidth, removing the international infrastructure bottleneck and reducing prices by over 300 per cent.

Infrastructure development

President Kibaki is best remembered for the infrastructure development that he initiated in the country. To get the economy back on its track, Kibaki’s government embarked on an ambitious infrastructure upgrade program unheralded in Kenya’s history.

Infrastructure development

Infrastructure development

It is these projects that defined Kibaki’s legacy. The most visible of all the projects is the Kshs34 billion Thika highway, which provides a vital link on the Trans—African Highway that connects Cairo in Egypt to Cape Town in South Africa. It is also one of the busiest highways in East and Central Africa.

The highway serves as a gateway to the northern Kenya region and the neighbouring countries of Ethiopia and Somalia as mapped out under Vision 2030.

Another important infrastructure project is the development of the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia -Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor whose aim is to establish a reliable access to the sea for northern/ eastern parts of Kenya; and South Sudan and Ethiopia. It will also provide a land bridge across Africa from Lamu to Douala in Cameroon on the Atlantic Ocean.

The Government has engaged the Ethiopia and South Sudan in order to develop some of the components jointly. As a result, on March 1, 2012, Kenya and Ethiopia signed a memorandum of understanding on development of a railway line. In 2012, President Kibaki inaugurated construction of the Turbi-Moyale road, completing the process of having the first tarmac road that will run from Isiolo to Moyale, covering a distance of close to 600kms.

Other notable projects include the Arusha—Namanga—Athi River road project completed with financing from the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Arusha-Taveta-Voi Road, which is an important corridor for cross-border movement of tourists, East Africans, exports and imports between Kenya and Tanzania.

Other dilapidated road networks were also rehabilitated and the port of Mombasa was improved. The dredging of Mombasa Port commenced in July 2012 and has seen too the construction of a second container terminal with the capacity to handle up to 600,000 TEUS.

The opening of the Syokimau commuter railway station was an indicator that rail transport system in Kenya was going to be improved. The government also started talks with donors for the construction of a standard gauge railway from Mombasa to Kisumu.

Revival of stalled projects

When the Uchumi Supermarkets collapsed, all eyes turned on the government to revive it. By that time, the chain was steeped in debt, was delisted from the Nairobi Stock Exchange (now the Nairobi Securities Exchange) and had numerous court cases. The government appointed a new management to help turn around the supermarket and today Uchumi is out of debt and is posting profits continuously for the sixth year running. Its share has been relisted and is currently trading at an average of Kshs18 up from its initial relisting amount of Kshs14.

Another company revived under the Kibaki government was the giant Kenya Cooperative Creameries in 2003 as New KCC. The revival assured the market of stable milk prices for dairy farmers country-wide. As a result, the price of milk increased from Kshs7 to Kshs20 per litre. Because of this price stabilization, milk production has increased tremendously and Kenya has a surplus that allows it to sell milk to other eastern African nations.

The revival of the Kenya Meat Commission after the government injected Kshs400 million was a boost to the livestock industry. KMC has had its ups and downs but it remains an important outlet for marketing of livestock products. In addition, satellite abattoirs have been established as a way of improving the welfare of pastoral areas.

The promulgation of a new constitution

This was no doubt one of the highlights of the Kibaki Presidency after 20 years of false starts. Having been defeated by the Orange team in his first quest in 2005 to give Kenya a new Constitution, Kibaki managed to get back in 2010 with another draft, which was the culmination of many parleys and a trying moment for him.

The promulgation of a new constitution

The promulgation of a new constitution

When the final vote tally was out the Yes team had managed about 67 per cent of the vote while the No team got 32 per cent. After 20 years of acrimonious debate, the issue of a new constitution that would address how best Kenya needed to overcome its challenges and take advantage of merging opportunities was finally put to a rest.

On august 27, 2010, during the promulgation of the new Constitution, President Kibaki paid tribute “to all those patriotic Kenyans who suffered injuries or lost their lives, freedom and property in the struggle for the new Constitution. We thank them and salute them”.

Kibaki had this time been supported by members of the Grand Coalition, led by Prime Minister Raila Odinga, and Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka.

Entrenching the new Constitution became one of the main challenges that faced Kibaki. Besides guaranteeing rights to all citizens and establishing accountable institutions of governance, the new Constitution also devolved powers to the 47 counties, which are today led by the Governors. It also created a bicameral Parliament with the National Assembly and the Senate. Also set up were institutions such as the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, County Transition Authority, National Police Service and the National Land Commission.

Creation of independent judiciary

When Chief Justice Willy Mutunga spoke at the Judiciary’s farewell event for President Kibaki after 10 years in office, he congratulated him for allowing the transformation of the institution.

Mr. Justice Mutunga said that Kibaki would be remembered for not interfering with the Work of the Judiciary despite various rulings that went against positions taken by his government.

Said the CJ: “Everyone who occupies the office of Chief Justice is instantly made aware of a hotline that only receives calls from State House. Previously the line was connected to a red handset perhaps signifying danger and it only rang when there were instructions from State House. I am glad that for my 21 months in office the hotline never rang. I congratulate you Mr. President for never picking up that call regardless how you felt about matters that were being handled by the Judiciary.”

During Kibaki’s tenure, the Judiciary was transformed and received massive support from the government. Kibaki believed that an independent judiciary was instrumental in securing the future of Kenyans as envisaged in the country’s Constitution and Vision 2030.


Expansion of tax regime

The Kibaki regime also saw a reduction of Kenya’s dependence on western donor aid, with the country being increasingly funded by internally generated resources such as increased tax revenue collection. When he came into office in 2002, Kenya’s annual tax revenues were in the region of Kshs 250 billion a year. When he went into retirement in 2013, the Kenya Revenue Authority was collecting over Kshs 900 billion a year. .

Kibaki took personal initiative in giving awards to top taxpayers and he helped in revamping the Kenya Revenue Authority and this tremendous increase in tax revenue enabled the government to finance key projects in crucial sectors, among them education, health, transport, water and irrigation, energy, communication and agriculture. On these key priority areas alone, the Government spent about Kshs3 trillion since 2003.

Women and Youth Funds

Kibaki also started the Women Enterprise Fund and the Youth Enterprise Fund and urged parastatals and learning institutions to support budding Women and youth enterprises by giving them business.

Established in 2007, the WEF started to provide Wholesome financial solutions to the challenges that Women have faced over the years in starting and growing their business.

Women are given subsidized loans to start or expand existing business at annual interest rates of eight per cent from financial intermediary partners on a reducing balance. To date, at least 645,825 Women have accessed the fund’s loans since its inception.

The youth fund was mooted in 2006 and has disbursed more than Kshs6.5 billion to 160,000 youth enterprises. Some Kshs750 million was disbursed through constituency loans and Kshs5.8 billion through financial intermediaries. The YEF has offered training to over 200,000 youth in entrepreneurship in collaboration with other partners. The Fund has also supported 1,800 youth to market their products through local as well as international trade fairs.

Vision 2030

The launch of Vision 2030 economic blueprint, which replaced the Economic Recovery Strategy for Wealth and Employment Creation in 2007, is one of the major highlights of the Kibaki administration. It seeks to transform Kenya into a newly industrialized, middle-income nation that provides a high quality of life to its citizens by 2030.

The vision’s first pillar seeks to ensure that Kenya achieves and sustains an average economic growth of more than 10 per cent annually over a 25-year period.

The second pillar seeks to build a just and cohesive society, while the third pillar aims at producing a democratic political system that nurtures issue—based politics, the rule of law, and protects all individual rights and freedom.

Energy and electricity

During the Kibaki governance, electricity connections increased to 2.11 million in 2012 from 686,195 in 2003. In 2002 there were 10 energy centers in the country and these have been increased to 15, including Lodwar, Garissa and Marsabit.

Installed capacity at the end of 2011 stood at 1,534 megawatts compared to 1,142 megawatts at the end of 2002. Kibaki opened the expanded Kisumu International Airport whose first phase was implemented at a cost of about Kshs3 billion. Construction of a new terminal at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is ongoing.

President Kibaki’s 10-year tenure ended on April 9, 2013, when he handed over to President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, who together with Deputy President William Ruto, had been elected on March 4, 2013 under the Kenya Constitution 2010.

Challenges of the Mwai Kibaki Tenure

The Anglo-leasing scandal

Inherited from the Moi regime, the Anglo-leasing scandal became Kibaki’s nightmare. Although it started in 1997 when the government sought to replace its passport printing system, it is under Kibaki that the magnitude of the scandal came to light and it bleached NARC government’s commitment to fight corruption.

Some of Kibaki’s Cabinet ministers and members of his inner circle were mentioned as some of the beneficiaries of the scheme, which involved phantom companies with fake addresses. An attempt by Kibaki’s Permanent Secretary in charge of Ethics, Mr. John Githongo, to get to the bottom of the scheme led to his resignation, citing frustration and threats. Githongo went into exile.

Several key government officials, including cabinet ministers were later on banned by the UK government from travelling to Britain, on the grounds that it would not be in the public good. It was widely reported that the ban was due to corruption. Kibaki Was finally forced to accept the resignation of some of his close confidants, Kiraitu Murungi and David Mwiraria, as the government investigated the scandal worth billions of shillings.

Post-election violence

The 2008 post-election violence after the disputed December 2007 presidential election marked the lowest point of Kibaki’s political legacy. After three days of counting, Electoral Commission of Kenya chairman Samuel Kivuitu declared Kibaki the Winner against his main opponent Raila Odinga of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). Kibaki was sworn in for a second term at a dusk ceremony as Odinga called for mass protests, triggering chaos in Nyanza, Nairobi and the Rift Valley, which is now the subject of International Criminal Court (ICC) cases facing President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto and radio broadcaster Joshua Sang. The chaos led to widespread theft, vandalism, looting and destruction of property. There were also a significant number of atrocities, killings, sexual violence and displacements.

When the election was eventually investigated by the Independent Review Commission (IREC) on the 2007 Elections chaired by Justice Johann Kriegler, it was found that there were too many electoral malpractices from several regions perpetrated by all the contesting parties to conclusively establish which candidate won the December 2007 presidential election. The violence led to the establishment of the Grand Coalition government of Kibaki and Odinga sharing power after a peace accord was brokered by former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan with a Panel of Eminent African Personalities, backed by the African Union, the United States and the United Kingdom.

The National Accord and Reconciliation Act 2008 provided for power-sharing, with Kibaki remaining President and Raila Odinga taking a newly re-created post of Prime Minister. On April 17, 2008, Raila Odinga was sworn in as Prime Minister, along with a power-sharing Cabinet, with 42 ministers and 50 assistant ministers, Kenya’s largest ever.