Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta’s presidential dream has hit the rocks following his approval of a Ministry of Finance budget despite massive discrepancies estimated at Kshs9 billion (US$114 million).
In a country where few people understand the government financial system, Uhuru is already being accused of having stolen the Kshs9 billion. His appearance before the Parliamentary Budget and Finance Committee has provided ample speculation among the public that he is guilty of looting the Treasury.
The affair is reinforcing a belief that the Kikuyu elite surrounding President Mwai Kibaki is intent on grabbing the country’s resources clean and dry. Both the president and Uhuru are from the Kikuyu tribe.
As a matter of fact, the President is Uhuru’s baptismal godfather. It is Kibaki who proposed the name “Uhuru” when the Deputy Prime Minister was born to Kenya’s founding President, Jomo Kenyatta in the years leading to independence from British colonialism.
Uhuru has resisted calls for his resignation, saying that the Kshs9 billion discrepancy was a “typing error.” Uhuru is reading political motives behind the affair and believes that his political opponents for Kenya’s presidency stand to gain from the budget scandal. Uhuru’s allies say that the Deputy Prime Minister was misled by officers in the Ministry of Finance. Some in the pro-Uhuru crowd have even stated that the budgetary discrepancy is a plot to tarnish Uhuru with corruption allegations.
Uhuru’s likely challengers in the quest to succeed President Mwai Kibaki include Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Agriculture Minister William Ruto and Martha Karua, who recently resigned from her position as Justice Minister. Karua is especially bitter with Uhuru for getting President Kibaki’s silent endorsement merely because of his family background. Karua had stuck with Kibaki for over a decade and is convinced she is a far worthy candidate than Uhuru.
Though it is possible that Uhuru’s problems could be political, concerns are rising with regards to Uhuru’s suitability as a cabinet minister let alone President. It is unthinkable that such a huge error could have gone unnoticed. If true, then Uhuru is careless and he merely appended his signature without bothering to check the details. This bodes ill for a man who wants to be entrusted with the instruments of state.
Uhuru has never quite captured the popular imagination of Kenyan voters. He is seen as a child of priviledge whose actions and demeanor are symptomatic of Kenya’s cruel and corrupt leaders. Uhuru is hoping to exploit the Kikuyu vote to ascend to the presidency but this alone will not be enough. Uhuru is already forging alliances with Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and Agriculture Minister William Ruto in order to gain ethnic votes from the Kamba and Kalenjin tribes.
As the budgetary scandal unfolds, Uhuru’s personal characteristics are once again in the spotlight. Ever since Uhuru was plucked from obscurity in 1997 by former President Daniel arap Moi, questions have been raised regarding his college years in the United States. Details remain scanty but it is just a matter of time before Uhuru’s opponents get hold of the damning information and unveil it to the world.
It is being alleged that Uhuru is a heavy drinker of potent wines and spirits, making him an unreliable leader similar to former Russian President Boris Yeltsin. Alcoholism made Yeltsin’s government a case study in chaos.
Yeltsin would get so drunk that he could not walk out of the Presidential jet on arrival at foreign cities. Russia suffered economic and social decline as majority of people followed the President’s footsteps by drowning their sorrows in cheap brews. Those who could not afford the bottle drank perfume to get high. Russia got out of the mess only after Vladimir Putin took over in the year 2000.
Uhuru is believed to have spent hundreds of millions of the Kenyatta family fortune to pursue his presidential bid. By the year 2012, Uhuru’s total spending since 2002 is expected to exceed Kshs 1 billion (US$12.6 million).
The Kenyattas are hoping that they are not simply throwing money down the drains. Or in Uhuru’s case, down the throat.