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Kenya celebrates 57th Jamhuri Day amid numerous challenges

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Kenyans mark the 57th Jamhuri Day today.

President Uhuru Kenyatta will lead the ceremony at Nyayo National Stadium from 8AM. The day commemorates when the country became a republic on December 12, 1964.

For the first time in many years, there will be no similar ceremonies in the counties. The ban was imposed to forestall exposure to the coronavirus.

“No other national day celebrations shall be held in the country,” said Ministry of Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho.

President Uhuru Kenyatta
President Uhuru Kenyatta during a past Jamhuri Day Ceremony. He is expected to address the nation today from 8AM on the occasion of the 57th Jamhuri Day. PHOTO/PSCU

Today’s celebrations will be President Kenyatta’s eighth Jamhuri day address. Besides honouring independence heroes and nationalists, the President is expected to speak on the state of the nation, and his legacy as his term inches closer to end. It will be President Kenyatta’s penultimate address before he leaves office in 2022.

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Some of the issues the President is expected to address are the economy, coronavirus pandemic and politics surrounding the constitutional amendments in the Building Bridges Initiative.

Recently, the government announced an end to the tax relief implemented earlier in the year. The relief was meant to cushion Kenyans against the economic effects of the pandemic.

But a weakening shilling, rising poverty levels, ballooning public debt, a health crisis, and what observers say are “misplaced priorities” continue to saddle the nation.

When President Kenyatta came to office in 2013, the public debt stood at Ksh1.8 trillion. Currently, it is Ksh6.7 trillion. The situation has been worsened by a shilling on a free fall against major currencies. At the beginning of the year, it was trading at Ksh101 against the dollar. It has since tanked 7.4 percent to Ksh108. The effect is that imported goods cost more, and interest on the loans is also higher.

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Unemployment

Since March this year when the first case of coronavirus was reported in the country, unemployment rate has doubled from 5.4 percent to 10.4 percent.

Even as President Kenyatta offers a scorecard on his Big Four Agenda, Kenyans are eager on what the government has in store, especially on the economic front.

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