Kenyans struggle to make ends meet despite election promises

By Kelvin Ogome in Nairobi - RFI
Kenya © AP /Richard Drew
© AP /Richard Drew

Kenya's president William Ruto has acknowledged that his government is having a tough time in delivering what it promised in the campaign leading up to the elections.

Addressing the nation at a joint parliamentary sitting in Nairobi 14 months after his election, the head of state said his government has identified external shocks, structural imbalances and fiscal pressure as the main financial challenges of his government.

Cost of living
They are the reason, he said, that the government has been unable to deliver what it promised taxpayers during the campaign. 

Ruto, whose campaign focused on lowering the cost of living and making life better for the ordinary people said that his government is in the process of lowering the cost of agricultural production, which in the end will ultimately cut the cost of food and other essentials.

''To date, Kenyans remain fully seized of [my] agenda, engaging rigorously and with unrelenting focus on expanding agricultural productivity to deal with the cost of living, affordable housing to create jobs and dignified dwellings, universal health coverage for a healthy productive population, digital transformation to create jobs and efficient and effective access to government services,” Ruto said in the speech.

However, he acknowledged that the rise in the cost of living is affecting each household in Kenya although his justification of what the government is doing did not sit well some Kenyans.

''He lied that the cost of flour – (a stable food in Kenya) - had been reduced to around 145 Kenya shillings//kg (89 cents). That is a lie! From which supermarket?'' lamented the agitated Joyce Auma, a mother of three living in Kenya's largest slum Kibra. 

Opposition boycott
Some leaders from the opposition coalition boycotted the address alleging that it would not change the status of Kenyans, nor would the president paint a real picture of the economic state of the country.

Edwin Sifuna, Nairobi County Senator posted on his X platform, formerly Twitter, that the president cannot be trusted with his promises 

“Ruto cannot be trusted to paint the true picture of [the state of the country] which as you know is dire. For these reasons and out of respect for the institution of Parliament, I shall not attend the State of the Nation address,” Senator Sifuna posted.

The chairperson of the presidential council of advisors, David Ndii, in a previous media interview distanced Ruto's government from the current financial hardships facing Kenyans claiming it is a mess that was inherited from the previous regime that massively borrowed, but misused the money. 

Speaking at a separate function at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation in Nairobi opposition chief Raila Odinga said Kenya is in a financial hole and the cost of living is not going down anytime soon.

“Kenya is in a hole, we told this government when a man is in a hole you don't dig it further. They have increased taxes, life is unbearable,” he said.

“Those who were against the demos I led to push for the lowering of the cost of living are now asking me to speak but I have chosen to be silent, because when I was fighting for them they complained that the demos were affecting their businesses.”

Some economists claim the current state of affairs in Kenya is global and that life is almost the same in all developing nations.

“Go to Tanzania or even Uganda. Petrol prices are high, our currencies are doing badly against the dollar. It is true Ruto's government over-promised and has not delivered enough, but we all know you cannot accept politicians promise 100%',"  Ali Hussein, a financial consultant in Mombasa, told RFI English.

In his address, the president also touched on the impact of external factors on the life of Kenyans.

“The Covid19 pandemic, coupled with global supply chain disruptions and geopolitical conflicts, significantly raised inflation and interest rates, adversely affecting our economy, while low agricultural investment and a prolonged drought led to food shortages and made Kenya a net food importer in a volatile international market,” Ruto added.

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Started: 02-07-2024 | Ends: 31-10-2024