It’s not lost to many that President Uhuru Kenyatta has definitely redefined Kenya’s top office image. The traditional aura of a semi-god almost unreachable by mere mortalshas thawed. The nature of the presidency has remarkably disintegrated.
The Head of State does the unexpected. From taking selfies to his random visits to Kibra, though under hawkeyed security detail,Uhuru has endeared himself to the public through normal deeds.
He greets little children who entertain him at events and takes time off official duty to enjoy a soda and ngumu in the process, putting at ease the normal mwanachi.
To his followers, that is the president they elected; a man of the people, humble and down to earth. Whichever way you look at it, the charm offensive continues, and seems to be achieving its intended results.
Nonetheless it’s becoming incessantly easy to decode the world of difference between his governments actual performance in office and the enormous public relations (PR) stunts that do not reflect the actual score card.
But where does the truth lie? Is the Jubilee government working or are they are just out to manipulate the public’s perception?The answer depends on one’s political affiliation.
However the Jubilee government seems keen on communicating everything. Maybe according to Jubilee’s manifesto specifically, “uwazi”- transparency. So perhaps, the President is but living to his promise of ensuring you know what happens each day.
Perhaps the perception can be credited to the difference between the former and present governments.Whereas the Kibaki administration communicated little but did more, the latter seems to communicate a lot and with less performance.
Of course all the communication around the presidency is strategic with each photo and update precalculated to influence our thinking.
However this approach if not well managed can end up in a PR fiasco when the truth coimes out.The PR approach can spark public criticism even when the government means well.Very few people trust State “mouthpieces”.
Conveniently, there is no real tragedy to these but what would be wrong is if real work suffered at the altar of this impressionism. And indeed, there have been instances when government communication just failed to make sense and in part bordered over communicating or unnecessary PR.
Quoting numbers and vehement justification of a tenure will instead raise ridicule, consequently tainting the administration’s image because the act will not connect with reality.
Unfortunately, reality at county or national level can not be manipulated. The truth is bound to be manifested through security lapses, leaving the enemy with the last laugh; outbreak of preventable diseases because of the collapse of the health delivery services.
Still, as the late singing Senator Gerald Otieno Kajwang once said in the numerous occasions when he humorously communicated sad realities, he captured that Kenya had turned to be a nation of “mbomu, hapa, mbomu kule.”
Many Kenyans can barely afford a decent life let alone be guaranteed of their personal security.
Sustaining PR stunts is more expensive than providing public services. It would be prudent for the administration to focus on pertinent issues and let the public judge.
This article was published on May 30 2015 on People Daily Kenya