He most definitely the man of the moment in the Kenyan political scene. After his snazzy presidential bid launch at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre this Sunday there has been a lot of attention going his way on social and mainstream media. Sometimes more of that attention is focused not on him but on his offspring particularly his son who was a hit with the ladies on social media leading to all kinds of jokes and puns. Inevitably memes started appearing too as the hype continued. He presents a fresh face to the race, young, internet savvy, good looking and apparently squeaky clean. a different kind of politician is the image he is trying to portray with some going as far as likening him to Barrack Obama. So behind all the 'eye candy' and the hype machine, what is the substance of his candidacy and his plan for Kenya?
This past Wednesday morning I got an opportunity to visit his office with a group of young Kenyans who'd organised a meeting with him to discuss his candidature and ask the tough questions. So we congregated then checked in to The Treasury at 11 o'clock for the meeting which ended up being delayed to about half past 12. After his apologies for the delay due to an interview he was having with the BBC the session go underway.
After brief introductions he took a few minutes to outline his proprieties for the next 5 years as they are on his site first off was food security, we need to invest in irrigation to ensure this. along with that Unemployment has to be addressed with the rate officially at 40% percent it could even be higher in practice. He noted that if the poor are hungry and jobless they could end up being treated as rich. Infrastructure was another point , he noted that most settlements are dotted along the major roads, more infrastructure needed into the interior and every county needs an allocation. Tourism was noted as an important driver for growth and to get that up security and infrastructure are key. Healthcare was also a major part of the plan and he decried the increasing problem of lifestyle diseases like Cancer and Diabetes which could be controlled if detected early. He mentioned that he buries way too many in his constituency who could have survived with proper care. Tackling impunity is also another area he touched on and discipline is needed in government and that will only work if there is swift punishment to deter culprits as opposed to the case now whereby the process takes very long.
After his introduction we went into specific questions some of which I'll highlight here from what I can remember
What drives him? what is his passion?
He said he has his children in mind and wants to ensure a brighter future for them and also other young people.
Why did you choose the presidency why not Governor?
He said that he chose Kenya first as opposed to the much easier job of becoming governor of his home county which he could have won easily as Murang'a he has a wider vision for the country.
What are his plans on healthcare?
He has a 3 year plan. He said 1 billion will be invested in each county in the first year to build referral and the next year the next year will be about getting the much needed equipment. The medical fraternity are not only agitating for improved terms but for better equipment to serve the people. With required equipment he believes even Kenyan medics in the diaspora can be convinced to come back home. The third year was not clear. As for where he would get the funds he mentioned attacking the budget system so that the allocations go where they are needed most. Having been in the planning ministry he knows a lot about it. He even went so far as to say he could save 180 billion shillings in recurrent expenditure.
What about the slogan Tunawesmake?
He said that his team had brainstormed about it for over 6 months and finally came up with it as it incorporates English and Kiswahili and is easily understood. He noted that it has got people talking. He admits he got hammered about it but it is a clarion call that it can be done.
Why should he be trusted?
His track record in Gatanga constituency and elsewhere in public life.
What will be done about security?
In his plans for security he mentioned implementing a Sheriff system to get others into the police system especially the youth.
Where do you get your Money?
From friends and well wishers. Donations go to as small as 50 shillings. He also added that he is ready to declare his wealth.
What do you do in your free time? what are you currently reading?
He says he's a lot of a home person and is currently reading Greg Mills on African Leadership
What is his priority in the first 100 days?
He said that the first person he wants to meet is the Chief justice so as to streamline the judicial process for swift and firm justice which will go a long way in dealing with corruption and other crimes that hold us back.
What is he doing at the grass roots? as currently he is more on social media and the urban youth.
He detailed how he has engaged first with people form marginalized areas and places where there is no presidential candidate. Has held forums with the local people to hear their needs particularly with the youth and so has done a lot of ground work.
Do you have anything to hide?
I have nothing to hide.
What about the ICC?
He voted for the local process when that question was in parliament. He also went on to note that there are still the IDPs and other affected persons who need to be addressed as well. He doesn't mind the ICC suspects running and will engage with them on issues.
Are you seeking alliances?
He is ready to work with those who share his values and has met other presidential candidates in the past.
What about Sally Kosgei?
He says that they were in a firm together and if the only story they have about him is one woman then he must be a very good guy.
What about allegation that your Insurance company is linked to Harun Mwau?
He did say he has an interest in a company that insures 20% of Nakumatt but ht e Majority is insured by Kenindia.
What about his tenure at KFF?
He insisted that his record there was clean
Are you married?
He said he is but I did not see a ring though.
That's pretty much what I can remember from the meeting and more can be found from my Twitter stream here.
Now I will give a brief summary. Peter Kenneth presents something fresh and new to the race for Kenya's presidency. He does not dwell a lot on tribe and alliances but instead takes time to articulate his vision for the country backed by facts and figures. He also has a good track record as Member of parliament for Gatanga constituency since 2003 and has been acknowledged as the best at accounting for Constituency development fund. He is also known to have done good work in uplifting the condition of his constituents He also has a relatively clean image. However the big question remains as to how well he can engage with the larger population of the country in the rural areas who are out of the scope of his social media campaign. The challenge is to get the numbers behind him and to have an image that resonates with the people. it would be good to have a leader of integrity but he seems to be a lone ranger. Where is the team to implement his grand plan?
His team has got the buzz right now but they have to sustain and strengthen the momentum and get the message out to the wider population. It is a breath of fresh air and all the best to him.