FULL SPEECH: RAILA ODINGA, EGH, AT THE LAUNCH OF AZIMIO LA UMOJA; A ROAD MAP TO UNITED POLITICAL ACTION.
My Dear people of Kenya.
In March 2018, President Uhuru Kenyatta and I came together in a historic moment that turned political rivals into partners for Project Kenya.
We came together, not to serve ourselves but because we realized that continued political rivalry was unhelpful, the economy would continue to suffer and the cohesion of our country would continue to be at risk.
With that unity, we were able to dissect the problems troubling our country:
• Sluggish economic growth and dwindling incomes.
• Exclusion from the economic and political life of the nation.
• Tribal rivalries and competition.
• Divisive electoral processes.
• Lack of a shared sense of civic responsibility.
In the months that followed, Kenyans spoke. They expressed deep fears that our country is built on sinking sands. That ours is a nation whose systems are getting broken as time goes by. That time is running out for us to fix the systems of the nation.
We cannot continue burying the truth that our country stagnates every election year. We cannot continue lying that ours in an equal and happy society. Sooner rather than later, the truth will catch up with us. Indeed, it has caught up with us.
No one can deny that we are several countries in one. Some Kenyans are doing extremely well, while many others are struggling to access even the most basic of basics.
Most sectors of our economy are experiencing severe challenges; be they tea, coffee, pyrethrum, wheat, maize, sugarcane or livestock sectors.
Fishermen from the Indian Ocean to lakes Turkana and Victoria are feeling the pinch.
Teachers in our schools, just like the parents, are feeling squeezed. University academic and non-academic staff, doctors and nurses are all living in duress.
Our country is not generating enough jobs to absorb our educated and skilled population. There can be no doubt that this country needs a massive investment in sectors like manufacturing, agriculture, infrastructure, health care infrastructure and information technology to create wealth and employment for our people.
Virtually all Kenyans are caught in daily battles to make ends meet. Virtually all Kenyans are caught in a feeling that however hard they try; they just can’t get a breakthrough.
Some of these problems have become fodder for drumming up of chauvinistic and xenophobic political support.
As we head into 2022, these problems have become tools for emotional and irrational appeals. A section of leaders is taking advantage of rather than address the problems.
It is clear that these problems will persist well beyond 2022, unless we begin addressing them today.
Our country needs a coherent plan to recast and implement our long-term development plans as contained in the Vision 2030.There can be no denying that the country needs to promote and protect the small-scale businesses like the types resident in Gikomba and similar markets from unfair competition by foreigners.
We equally need to address the issue of punitive taxation so that we promote, not punish, investment. Kenya needs a fair and transparent tax regime, backed by a clean and efficient public service.
We need to build a nation where leaders exist to serve people and not lord over them. A nation where meritocracy shall replace mediocrity and nepotism.
A country with Zero Tolerance to corruption.
In our own small way, we must start that conversation.
We must start talking about how to ensure elections are not about government but governance. A country where elections are not death traps.
In the present circumstances, we must unite and help our people contain the COVID-19 pandemic, rally them for vaccination while we work with the government to roll out measures to cushion the country from the ravages of the pandemic.
Together, we can come up with ways and means to raise money to fund stimulus packages for our people as other countries have done.
Over the years, we have weathered strong storms and tides to resolve our problems and take our country forward. It has been a difficult journey across a treacherous road to democracy, a liberalised economy and a free and open society.
We have come this far because at difficult times, we have always charted a path that sets us apart from other third world countries. A path that takes us forward not backwards and secures our future while benefitting from lessons of the bitter past.
And so today, we are here to launch another united effort to address the problems afflicting our people.
The journey we start today is intended to create the political and ideological unity that we require to confront the problems afflicting our people.
We are coming together with a political and governance framework that ensures our economy works for each and every one of our citizens.
We believe that to address the problems afflicting our people in a sustainable manner, we must bring the diversity of our people, their leaders and their problems on to one table and embark on a systematic and transparent search for solutions, as equal stakeholders in Kenya’s future.
Our society is diverse, divided and complex. No single man or woman can be our sole messiah. We therefore have no option but to build inclusive political processes.
We must therefore urgently embark on uniting, not dividing our people. Not pitting people against each other.
Not pitting the poor against the rich, the young against the old, one faith against the other, tribe against tribe. That would be a strong recipe for a violent competition for political power. Kenya cannot afford another era of election violence. Kenya is too divided to be splintered any further.
We must unite to safeguard the victories we have scored over the decades and advance them, to protect our democracy and freedoms; our diversity and inclusivity, our shared prosperity and our morals and ethics.
We must unite to build prosperity and share it equitably, on a table where everyone feels represented. We need a united front against corruption and impunity. We must unite to fight for the historically marginalised parts and people of Kenya. The youth and women of Kenya particularly deserve a newer and fairer deal to access opportunities.
We must unite to create wealth instead of using poverty as a political tool and unemployment as fodder for electioneering. We have to create a culture of forgiveness and not vindictiveness. We believe that to forgive is to be a leader.
The times require that we proceed with the tradition of unclenching of our fists and shaking of hands even with bitter opponents if it serves the nation. The challenges require that we continue with the tradition of making compromises, coalitions and alliances for the sake of the nation.
Going into 2022, we must cleanse the land of the spirit of anger and bitterness, the spirit of revenge and entitlement and continue on a path that reconciles, unites, calms and stabilizes the nation. That is the journey we are embarking on today.
We must recommit to a leadership that continues with the spirit of good neighborliness and Pan Africanism, not one that undermines it. We recommit to a leadership that strengthens not undermines our ties with old international partners who have stood with us in good and bad times and the new ones willing to work with us.
The journey towards a mass movement that we set on today aims to bring on board Kenyans of good will, citizens, leaders, movements, social formations and institutions dedicated to advancing people centred and democratic governance in Kenya. Within a short period of going around the country, we will unveil the vehicle that has space for the diversity of Kenyans to the Promised Land.
We have spoken so much about unity because we believe it matters. A house divided cannot stand.
We need unity of purpose around core long-term and consistent, not erratic policies with clearly defined goals as demanded by Kenyans. Mere words and catchy slogans will not work.
We know where history has led those countries that fell victim to the sweet tongues of politicians. We must not allow ourselves to be falsely led down that path in 2022.
We must take the high road, and summon the angels in us, not recall our demons.
We want every child – no matter their pedigree or identity – to think and believe that it can be morning in Kenya again, that we are about to arrive in a new land full of the most seductive possibilities.
Let us rise together to fulfill the dreams of our children and reclaim our great destiny.
We must FIX this country, fix its systems, fix its politics then fix its economy.
Thank you. God bless Kenya.
Rt. Hon.Raila Odinga, EGH
August 17, 2021