Kenyatta defends foreign trips amidst globetrotting row

President Uhuru Kenyatta attending ongoing climate summit in Paris, France. Behind him is his daughter Ngina Kenyatta.

President Uhuru Kenyatta attending ongoing climate summit in Paris, France. Behind him on left is his daughter Ngina Kenyatta.

The State House in Kenya has defended President Uhuru Kenyatta’s foreign trips saying they are justified and beneficial to the country. This follows ongoing uproar in Kenya over the frequency of the president’s travelling abroad that has earned him the “tourist” label.

“Kenyans should take time to evaluate the number of meetings the President had attended abroad and the benefits to see that the trips have been necessary and in the interest of the country,” Manoah Esipisu, State House Spokesman told a press conference Sunday.

Mr. Esipisu put up a spirited defense of the Kenyan leader enumerating the multi-billion deals Kenyatta has been striking with world leaders saying these initiatives are very beneficial to the development of Kenya.

Kenyans have been expressing anguish over President Uhuru’s foreign trips contending they are a waste of taxpayer money.

The issue has inspired the viral hashtag #UhuruInKenya on Twitter and a website www.isuhuruinkenya.co.ke has been launched purposely to track the president’s travels.

President Kenyatta came under fire recently when he attended the ongoing climate summit in Paris accompanied by his daughter Ngina Kenyetta. Kenyans ridiculed Kenyatta for including his daughter on the 23-person entourage wondering what she knows on climate change, even the bombastic US Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump joined in reportedly saying “how can this man carry 23 of his relatives to Paris at the detriment of poor Kenyans? How can he take with him his daughter to a forum she has no idea about?” From Paris, the Kenyan leader joined other African leaders at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit in Johannesburg, South Africa.

“At the event (Paris Summit), Kenya also cemented a $200 million (Sh20.4 billion) agreement with the World Bank for the supply of clean water to the long-suffering residents of Mombasa,” the state house spokesman added Sunday.

President Kenyatta’s critics, both the opposition and the general public say he should be spending more time in Kenya addressing issues of corruption, and the Eurobond saga among other pressing matters.

“Shame on you Uhuru Kenyatta, you have become such a big let down. Your deputy has taken over the public purse while you are busy globe trotting. Please visit Kenya and sort out grand corruption,” one Nancy Taber said on Facebook.

Kenyatta is not the only East African leader facing backlash over his foreign trips, President Paul Kagame has also been at the receiving end of ridicule and criticism for his ‘frequent flying’.

Records show Kenyatta has thus far made 43 trips abroad, yet his predecessor Mwai Kibaki reportedly made 33 trips in his entire 10 year-presidency. Kenyatta has been president since 2013.