The Kenya we Want

Former Kenyan President Danial arap Moi speaking at the national conference: One Kenya , One Dream: The Kenya We Want.

Retired President Daniel Arap Moi (centre) arrives at Nairobi's KICC on Wednesday to attend the "Kenya We Want" conference.
Photo: Fredrick Onyango

Moi identifies three key man-made evils pulling Kenya back:

Weak leadership, poor policies and tribalism are the stumbling blocks to Kenya’s growth, former President Moi has said.

Moi said post-independent Kenya has deviated from the "goals that informed the freedom struggle," and cannot even feed its citizens due to corruption and negligent leadership.

"Is this republic on the right track 45 years after independence?" he posed yesterday, and called for a ‘new dawn.’

He said to stem the slide, "we must change the way we are doing our politics".

The former Head of State was speaking at the public forum dubbed, The Kenya We Want, at KICC in Nairobi.

Failed states

He said the country’s socio-economic problems are "man-made and, therefore, reversible."

He warned that Kenya, a country he ruled for 24 years, could soon join the ranks of failed states.

"Where did we go wrong that jiggers can still torment our people at this time and age?" he asked.

He, however, said Kenya’s socio-economic backwardness is neither permanent nor beyond a local solution.

"What ails Kenya is tribalism, bad politics and corruption," he said.

He said the same evils bedevil Africa and threatened to bring down some nations.

"They (three problems) are manmade and therefore reversible. It requires strong leadership to fight them," he added.

Moi said failed agricultural policies have led to the current food shortage and turned "a former producer and exporter of food into a net importer of the same".

Talk shop

He said the forum offers an opportunity for Kenyans to admit past failure and chart the way forward.

"This forum should not be a mere talk shop," he said, referring to a similar parley in 1980.

"Thirty years ago… a conference of this nature was held at Kenya Institute of Administration to address challenges facing our country at that time. Today, we are back to address the same questions," he said.

Moi said current leaders should accept criticism and censure from the forum and avoid a repeat of past failures.

"Leaders must be ready to swallow not-so-palatable pills from this forum," he said.

Meanwhile, Moi defended his government’s pro-corruption credential, by saying he could not be held responsible for individual acts of officials in the past regime.

He said fighting corruption is a collective effort, not the duty of one president.

He said a president ruling a country is like a driver of a bus filled with citizens and "several pick pokets".

"When a driver is on the steering wheel with passengers behind, there are many pickpockets aboard too. The driver is not responsible. Corruption is not a one person business" Moi said.

By David Ochami, The Standard, Nairobi, 5 Feb 2009

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