The emotive land question and state of economy formed the basis of discussion for the last presidential debate ahead of Kenya elections on March 4.
Despite claims that Uhuru Kenyatta would not attend the final debate over claims of biased moderators, the presidential aspirant actually showed up to respond to queries Kenyans raised.
Uhuru kept dodging a direct reply to how much land he and his family owns across the country. It took a salvo by Martha Karua for Uhuru to admit owning about 30,000acres of land in Taita Taveta located in the Coastal region of Kenya. Key minerals found in Taita Taveta on commercial viable quantities include sapphires, iron ore, tanzanites and manganese.
It is still unclear how much land the Kenyatta family owns despite the emphasis by Uhuru that the land has legally been acquired over the years. The family has dished out about 4,000 acres to the locals there.
The question of land has been a topical issue of campaign especially for the CORD and Jubilee coalitions headed by Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta respectively.
The two camps have been engaged in a war of words accusing each other of being incapable of tackling the emotive land question for Kenyans. But when it came to substantiating the issues during the debate, Raila Odinga instead defended Uhuru saying that he is just innocent because most of the land is inherited.
Odinga was also tasked to explain his ownership of the Molasses plant in Kisumu. He too became defensive stating that the actual status of the plant will be made public when it is listed on the Nairobi Stock Exchange.
While other candidates took time to answer questions of scandals during their time in office and what they would do to ensure no repeat, Dida of the party of real change threw the audience into laughter when he stated that “Did you expect a thief to tell you that I have stolen?” The Goldenberg, Anglo-leasing, Free Education funds and maize scandals have been among the major scandals for more than 20years. All candidates save for Dida have served government in different capacities during this time.
On economic development, candidates promised to raise the bar by focusing more on income generating activities that would in turn create employment for the unemployed youth in Kenya. Odinga re-echoed his statement in a BBC interview that he would be willing to cut his pay by half if elected president. The Salaries and Remuneration Commission recently announced that the next president could be earn between Sh1.3 million and Sh1.7 million shillings per month.
Of concern is that issues of oil and gas did not come up during the debate. In 2012 Kenya discovered oil in Turkana, a largely semi-arid area.
The elections are set to be held on March 4.
It is now up to Kenyans to elect a suitable president after listening to agenda candidates had for the country in the various debates held by the Media, Religious leaders as well as the workers under their umbrella body COTU.