Uhuru Kenyatta’s profile and presidential candidature
Uhuru Kenyatta is one of the few individuals in the country who were born at a time in Kenya’s political history when the nation was about to attain independence. On December 1963, when Kenya became a sovereign state, the dream that was embedded in Kenya’s first president Jomo Kenyatta was fulfilled much to the premonition in his son’s name. Uhuru is the Swahili translation of the word freedom.
However, a few years down the first century of his birth, the phrase Not Yet Uhuru would characterize the mood of the country with many squatters never getting their ancestral land back and poverty weighing down on a disenfranchised people.
Uhuru has applied himself for the presidency of Kenya in 2012, a year where the premonition for the actual Uhuru has resurfaced again, but this time fully owned by the people. This time, Uhuru wants to be the one to midwife the independence with a clear awareness of what would happen if the process is not carefully executed. After all, he was a key player in the campaign for a new constitution in Kenya promulgated in August 2010. This constitution was to be the beginning of a brand new Kenya.
He was born in 1961 to a country that knew nothing but struggle, but raised as a son of the president with a life pretty much cushioned against social- economic stresses that many endured during the time. His political life was no different, with his father’s successor, President Daniel Moi schooling him in politics and giving him the independence party KANU to jump-start his political career. That plan did not work out very well as he lost the defining election in 2002.
President Moi had initially nominated him to parliament in 2001 and made him Minister for local Government. In December of 2002, with the blessing of Moi and the party KANU, he ran for presidency against Mwai Kibaki but lost to his competitor with a huge margin. He was defeated mostly due to his proper lack of experience in politics and being on the wrong side of a revolution of change. Following this defeat, he retreated to the backbench in parliament as the official leader of the opposition.
It did not take long for him to join the executive and when he did, he was made the Minister for Finance by President Kibaki. He is credited with several reforms during his tenure as minister, under the grand coalition government, which were aimed at increasing efficiency in service delivery in the ministry. He was forced to resign from the ministry in 2012 because of integrity issues.
At the moment, he is still the Deputy Prime Minister of Kenya and has been since 2008 under the power sharing agreement between PNU’s Mwai Kibaki and ODM’s Raila Odinga. His position was newly created by President Mwai Kibaki and found a natural occupant in Uhuru. He is also the Member of Parliament for Gatundu South.
He has made a calculated move this year to launch his own party, The National Alliance which more or less paints him as a leader who is out to plot his own political destiny unaided. His extravagant launch of the party in May gave a glimpse of his extraordinary wealth for which Forbes Magazine has ranked him the richest Man in East Africa.
Last year, he turned half a century old and even erected a website to commemorate the milestone which was all the more resplendent in a characteristic show of his rich financial endowment.
His political campaign is a machine that is undoubtedly the best oiled in Kenya today. His central province, composed majorly of the Kikuyu tribe, is his enclave in the country where majority of the votes cast from any region come from and which he seems to have put in his bag.
He is among four Kenyans who have been singled out by the international Criminal Court at the Hague to face trials concerning murder, persecution of persons and forcible transfer of population. These crimes were allegedly committed by him as a co- perpetrator in 2008 during post election violence.
Uhuru’s case as contained in the ICC website includes charges of him as criminally responsible for several counts of crimes against humanity.
According to the website, Mr Kenyatta – together with Mr Francis Muthaura – is allegedly criminally responsible as an indirect co-perpetrator pursuant to article 25(3)(a) of the Rome Statute for the crimes against humanity of:
- murder (article 7(l)(a));
- deportation or forcible transfer (article 7(l)(d));
- rape (article 7(l)(g));
- persecution (articles 7(l)(h)); and
- other inhumane acts (article 7(l)(k)).
Uhuru pleaded innocence on all counts leveled against him and has instead publicly submitted that Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga were most culpable for the crimes since they were the two main parties wrangling over leadership in 2008.
While launching his party TNA, Uhuru pledged to lay emphasis on homegrown solutions to problems afflicting the nation of Kenya and the African continent as a whole. Uhuru takes the less trodden path when it comes to his manifesto. He prefers to let the people generate the issues they want to be tackled when he is president in what he calls ‘The people’s manifesto.’
His is an original idea that is so far untested and should he be elected president, the people would enjoy a manifesto they crafted themselves. A form for suggestion of areas of focus in building the country and proposals for their implementation is contained in his website.
Uhuru is fluent in Kiswahili, English and Kikuyu. He also ranks highly in opinion polls as president Kibaki’s successor, attracting wide support from all over the country. The truth of whether his name will feature on the ballot papers for presidency is still out there following his own assertion during Prof. Saitoti’s funeral that he would be willing to sacrifice his candidature for the sake of the nation.
The meaning of this statement in political spaces would mean that he would support any candidate for the presidency should he for one reason or the other choose not to go the full length. So the question begs: will he be the one to midwife the new constitution or will he watch from a distance as was the case during Kenya’s independence?