This December, the Presidency has been taken to ask to explain how it is spending billions of shillings despite promising austerity measures to cut ‘fluffy’ government expenditure.
In what is becoming a force to reckon with in terms of governance, social media in Kenya is playing an enormous role pushing for accountability from public office holders.
In the first week of December, Kenyans ‘netizens’ came up with hash tags seeking clarity on how the government could continue spending taxpayers’ money in travels despite a worsening economic situation which has seen inflation hit double digits.
This is due to the increase of taxation leading to increased prices of commodities like fuel. Ironically, the excise duty on fuel, specifically, came a few days after the announcement of price reductions following a drop in the global market.
Allegedly, President Uhuru Kenyatta had made 43 trips in his three years in power, 10 more than his predecessor, retired President Mwai Kibaki, made in his 10 years in power.
And these trips have not come cheap.
According to the Saturday Nation,
“If the presidency had spent half the amount it allocated to foreign and domestic travel, and hospitality, it would have saved enough to buy 106 mobile clinics at Sh10 million each. Each county would have been provided with at least two mobile clinics.”
To express displeasure with the trips, Kenyans have taken to twitter and other platforms to complain against these trips.
Most of the comments on Twitter have however bordered on ridicule as the government has seemingly broken every promise it made to Kenyans in its manifesto.
Haha Eti, “Tanzania can we swap presidents for two months? We will give you Ruto for free. Murkomen and Nduale as disccounts” #UhuruInKenya
— eric omondi (@ericksmoocky) December 6, 2015
— RomanticKot (@johnmark254) December 7, 2015
— RM Sheriff (@RM_Sheriff) December 7, 2015
So Uhuru is heading off to Rwanda on Thursday after a five day visit to Kenya LoL, what’s the work of foreign Cs though.. #UhuruInKenya
— WAITIMU (@josegithinji1) December 7, 2015
— Nasir (@mafanz) December 6, 2015
So far, the country has been reeling under a burden of taxes and life is becoming more expensive. The outlook is gloom and the disdain from Kenyans is palpable. Despite this criticism, other Kenyans feel that the President is only doing his job.
— Brian Khaniri (@BKhaniri) December 7, 2015
And on Sunday, State House came to the defence of the president over the trips saying they were benefitting Kenyans.
Spokesman Manoah Esipisu said President Kenyatta is Kenya’s foremost diplomat who travels to seeking financial partnership for projects in the country.
“The President has to undertake what is necessary travel and he is doing that. You just have to look at other Heads of State. Secondly we cannot claim the leadership position we have in the region and yet shun our obligations to deal with the regional issues that we need to deal with. The President is called from time to time to deal with these regional issues and he does that. He has been called to deal with the Kenya issue and he has done that,”
Esipisu told a news conference at State House.
He noted that during the recent shuttle trips the President managed to seal financing agreements in energy and education.
However, most of these agreements are loans which Kenyans have to pay and which will mean more burdens for an already struggling populace.