Kenyan president says country is stable amid political competition

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday assured business leaders that the country remains stable and no one will be allowed to disrupt peace. 

Kenyatta who held a meeting with Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), an association of business leaders, said the executive and the judiciary are functional while the legislature opens on Tuesday and the law making process will continue. 

"Let business continue. No politician will be allowed to interfere with peace and stability. As far as peace and stability in the country are concerned, we are in full control," Kenyatta said in Nairobi. 

Kenyatta told the business leaders to ignore political noise, continue with the growth expansion plans and forge ahead, creating jobs for the youth.

Economies around the world are known to slow down during the electioneering period as wealth creators tend to embrace a 'wait and see' attitude until the election season is over. 

This changes once the season is over unless violence follows like in 2008 post-election violence where more than 1,200 people were killed and 650,000 others injured. 

However, the private sector in Kenya has remained optimistic and united during this electioneering season. 

KEPSA CEO Carole Kariuki lauded Kenyatta for his commitment to peace and ensuring a conducive environment for business prevails even during the electioneering period. 

Kariuki said the private sector initiated the Mkenya Daima campaign that drove home the peace message and encouraged optimism to bolster the business environment and instill confidence. 

"We believe that the Mkenya Daima campaign made a significant difference and has become a successful case study on how business can play a role in ensuring political stability," Kariuki said. 

She said although global economies experience slowdown during elections, it is only when the electioneering period is prolonged that businesses suffer. 

Kariuki cited the low lending, foreign exchange, reduced employment, lower international trade and reduced activities at the Mombasa port as some of the negative effects of the electioneering period.

“The private sector is looking forward to the end of the election cycle. We want to get back to business quickly," Kariuki said. 

According to KEPSA, although market capitalization has improved, the market lost almost 1 billion U.S. dollars after the determination of the presidential petition. 

"This trend is likely to be witnessed as we approach October 17th and the subsequent announcement of the results. There is a strong and direct correlation between the performance of the Capital market and political uncertainties in Kenya," Kariuki said.

She said micro and small enterprises have continued to feel the pinch as most firms rely on daily sales and wages which is mostly dependent on people's purchasing power. 

"Any disruption of their activities, or reduced human and vehicular traffic flow, especially in town, reduces their margin," KEPSA chief said. 

"During the August period, most of the shops, stalls and other MSE markets remained closed thereby disrupting economic activities. Inflation went up as well as transport and logistic challenges leading to inadequate commodities at the market." 

The local investors have noted low lending by financial institutions to the private sector, leading to a reduction in money circulation that reduced the purchasing power of the majority. 

"Most banks cushioned themselves to a maximum lending limit of 50,000 dollars to the private sector during the election period highlighting the high risk/perception associated with elections in Kenya," she said. 

The investors called on all political players to maintain and preach peace during this period in order to safeguard the economic gains realized so far, to `create wealth and jobs for our youth and future generation. 

Xinhua