It wasn’t just the fact that Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka had their first joint rally after resolving the internal setup of an Azimio government on August 10, 2022, it was the fact that other key Azimio leaders were there. Charity Ngilu was in the middle of things and so was Kivutha Kibwana and other Kamba leaders as well as the ever-hard-working Peter Kenneth.
That was very good. But the best thing is the people came out with one loud and clear voice. Azimio is their movement and the Azimio government is what they want for their country.
One of the things I liked about the rallies through several communities and towns was that Raila and other Azimio leaders took their time to explain how the just-released Azimio Manifesto will work for Kenyans. That is really the responsibility of Azimio leadership to do in the next few weeks so that Kenyans are clear on what to expect from an Azimio government.
On the Shs 6,000 Social Aid Programme, Raila and Ngilu explained that it will ensure that no child in Kenya will be starving and with no hope for a future. That money will provide vouchers for parents with no income to feed their kids and be able to provide basic necessities for family livelihoods.
That is a very big issue because the UDA desperados with no manifesto of their own have jumped on the Azimio Manifesto belittling the Social Aid Programme and claiming it is not achievable.
Of course, it cannot be achievable when those in government steal all public money. That is what Azimio has promised to stop and that is why the Social Aid Programme is workable and will be very key to lifting Kenyans out of poverty. But Azimio leaders have to go to Kenyans and talk about that programme among other items in the manifesto that will have an immense benefit to Kenyans.
The other “big” issue the Ruto and UDA have seized on is the Mitumba issue. Ruto claims Raila wants to ban mitumba and his government will be a mitumba government. Let’s not waste time on their attempts at relevancy.
Azimio leaders have to tell Kenyans that it is possible and very normal to chew gum and walk at the same time.
Our mitumba business will go on as usual while the Azimio government takes concrete steps to revive our textile manufacturing industry which was booming in the 1970’s and 80’s. Ruto and his friends are telling Kenyans when you chew gum you cannot walk and must sit down and when you finish the gum throw it out and start walking. Imagine a world like that. Luckily it is not the one Kenyans want to live in.
Rebuilding the textile manufacturing industry starts with cotton production from small-scale farmers and up to big farm producers. Once they win elections, the government will have to start with incentives for small-scale farmers all over the country to grow cotton.
First step with that is to figure out what kind of cotton we want to grow. We have GMO cotton now in the market. Can we grow it in Kenya? Once that is sorted out the next step is getting the cotton seeds to farmers on a regular basis and helping them with agricultural field workers. I know them as a fruit farmer in my home.
Without those field agricultural workers, farmers are lost. They tell you the seeds to use for every crop depending on the rainfall projections for the year. They advise you on what fertilizers you should use and they tell you what your harvest schedule should be.
You know one very annoying thing today is that Kenyans are losing their agriculture field workers like in my area and when I asked them what the problem is they told me the county governments don’t want to pay them because agriculture is under the national government who also don’t want to pay them. So they are just quitting.
So rebuilding the textile industry in Kenya starts with rebuilding Kenyan agriculture back to its best standards probably achieved under the Kibaki government. The agriculture modernization process is a whole package in itself and the Azimio Manifesto addresses that as well.
On textile manufacturing, Azimio has to stop reducing it to a debate between mitumbas and cotton production and processing as Ruto and his UDA want to.
Once we can get the cotton production in full blast then work to set up small-scale cotton processing plants. That could best be done by counties that produce cotton teaming together to attract a cotton mill processing plant. Funding can be sourced from EU agencies and private investors. They are all over the place now. The whole world needs cotton to produce all their fancy clothes and it is not there.
Right now China provides 25 percent of all cotton available in the international market and there is a huge problem there with the US and Canada because most of the cotton from China comes from Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, where the western world claims Chinese government uses forced labour. So they have passed laws to stop companies from buying Chinese cotton but they have no alternatives so those laws are dead including here in Canada.
Cotton business is big in the world economy today where so many people are obsessed with clothes and fashion. That means if Kenya revives its cotton industry it will not just be for the Kenyan textile industry they are trying to build. Cotton has a ready and waiting international market.
Putting cotton production, textile industries in Kenya and improving our entire agricultural sector in one basket is a win-win for the Azimio team and for the Kenyan economy.
One thing we need to take into consideration is that the big industrial countries that produce all sorts of clothing like the US, Canada, and all of Europe do not produce a single bale of cotton. They have to import it.
The synthetic stuff does not work and that is why everything you buy they tell you this is 50% cotton and that is good. 100% cotton materials are only for very rich people because they are super expensive – whether it is blankets, bed sheets, or clothes. The world and Kenyans need cotton and if we can produce it why not.
Azimio has to explain and expand their manifesto as they talk to Kenyans about their plans.
Look at Ruto with his UDA Women Charter they just released. They are not talking about it because it is pretty shameful and degrading nonsense towards Kenyan women. They don’t even mention it in their rallies since they released it.
They would rather talk about the Azimio Manifesto. That is not their job. Azimio leaders will do that and they have to do it very vigorously in the next two weeks.
And forget the polls. You have to win the election on the battlefield which means talking to the voters and addressing their concerns. Ruto is going to be under 40% in all election polls from all over but the big poll is on August 9, 2022. Azimio has to bring Kenyans to the polling booth to send Ruto home forever.
Adongo Ogony is a Human Rights Activist and a Writer who lives in Toronto, Canada