NAIROBI — President Uhuru Kenyatta today led the nation in marking the 55th Jamhuri Day celebrations where he also cautioned the judiciary against giving graft suspects an easy ride.
The President expressed his disappointment that graft suspects are using the courts to derail justice.
“Kenyan spirits are dampened when we witness suspects released on ridiculously low bail terms, interference in legislative processes and the use of the court process to delay justice,” said the President.
He challenged the judiciary to be wary of being misused to protect impunity and to curtail the work of investigative agencies.
“These individuals deserve fair trials but nothing more. I am again calling for the Judiciary to ensure that its procedures are not used to protect impunity,” said the President.
President Kenyatta said all arms of Government must work together to ensure Kenya gets rid of the corruption vice.
The celebrations at the Nyayo National Stadium which also marked the trooping of colours for the 17th Battalion, Kenya Rifles were attended by Deputy President William Ruto, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, former First Lady Mama Ngina Kenyatta and opposition leaders Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetangula.
The trooping of colours ceremony included the presentation of Presidential and Regimental colours (flags) to the Battalion. The Presidential colour is trooped when a military Unit or Base performs a national ceremony in which the Commander-in-Chief or Head of State is honoured with a military parade known as Guard of Honour
President Kenyatta who revisited the subject of graft several times in his speech warned those engaging in fraud and abuse of office that they can run but they cannot hide.
“We will catch up with you and make you pay dearly for every coin stolen from Kenyans,” said the President, adding that the current anti-corruption broom sweeping across the country will spare no one.
The President said there is a new wave of courage sweeping the country and individuals who always felt they were untouchable are being brought to book.
“Through the efforts of our investigative agencies and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, individuals who may have thought they were untouchable, are now facing the full force of the law. These individuals deserve fair trial but nothing more,” said the President.
He called on all Kenyans to stop watching from the sidelines and to play an active role in the war to stop graft from ruining the nation.
“It is time for you to say enough is enough, be it to a policeman or a governor, a clerk or a cabinet secretary, a judge or a politician,” said the Head of State.
He urged Kenyans to report all cases related to demands for bribes to their local Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission.
“If they don’t listen, give the information to the media and to civil society actors to unmask these people. Do not tire of doing the right thing,” urged the President.
The President said that Kenya cannot afford to entertain corruption and misappropriation of public funds if it wants to ascend to the league of developed nations.
“Those countries that started out as poor as we were in the 1960s and today are prosperous, most of them in Asia, did so because they focused on development and did not entertain misappropriation of public resources,” said the President.
The President said he will preside over the national anti-corruption conference in early January which he expects to come up with a roadmap that will be adopted to further the war against corruption.
He said Kenya has achieved a major milestone in curtailing graft cartels in the education sector especially in the national examination system and the same can be replicated in many other sectors.
President Kenyatta said the Big 4 development agenda responds well to the challenges of joblessness among the youth, high cost of basic foods, scarcity of affordable housing and limited access to affordable healthcare.
He said the Big 4 is an accelerated development agenda designed to help Kenya to achieve the social and economic pillars of the Vision 2030 and the 2010 constitution.
“Our aim is to sharply raise the contribution of manufacturing to our national income as a means to achieve shared prosperity,” said the President in reference to the manufacturing pillar of the Big 4 agenda.
On the affordable housing, President Kenyatta said the government has established the Kenya Mortgage Refinance Company (KMRC), whose sole remit will be to work with the banking sector and the co-operative movement through SACCOs to make available affordable resources for those wishing to own a home.
The KMRC will also help to extend the tenure of housing loans from the current average of seven years to at least 20 years besides assisting in driving interest rates on mortgage to a single digit, said the President.
The Head of State said the National Assembly has additionally given an approval for the establishment of the Kenya Housing Development Fund which will be the anchor for the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) led housing model
The President who will be in Kisumu tomorrow to launch the ambitious Universal Health Coverage pilot project in four counties of Kisumu, Nyeri, Machakos and Isiolo, said lessons learnt from the pilot phase will be refined before the UHC programme is scaled up to cover the rest of the country over the next 18 months.
President Kenyatta said despite an improved environment in the ease of doing business which had made the country be rated favourably by the World Bank, Small and Medium sized businesses still have to contend with red tape and corruption.
He warned those using public offices as toll stations for corruption and harassing wananchi that they will soon pay for their misdeeds
He said the government remains committed to do more for manufacturers in the Jua Kali sector which is the leading employer in the country.
The President said the just concluded Blue Economy conference in Nairobi that was attended by over 17,000 delegates from 206 countries was a turning point for Kenya and Africa in that new investments in the marine sector will lead to enormous growth of Kenya’s economy, create thousands of jobs and increase food and nutrition security.
The President also touched on regional security matters specifically in Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia saying the improving cross-border relations between Ethiopia country and Eritrea was good news for the Horn of Africa.
The President said the Kenyan Defence Forces, who are part of the African Union Mission in Somalia will continue to support the stabilization of the country, largely through diplomacy.
He said it was also encouraging that international sanctions against Sudan had been dropped.
“We will work with every one of these countries to strengthen peace, to eliminate any havens of terrorists and extremists, and to replace bullets and grenades with trade and investment,” the President said.
Additional reporting by PSCU