President Uhuru Kenyatta has said the Government respects the independence of the Church and will continue to partner with religious leaders in the fight against social vices.
President Kenyatta said uniting the country, the war on drug and substance abuse and illicit brews will require the full support of the church and all Kenyans of goodwill to win.
The President spoke when he presided over the official opening of the Western regional headquarters of the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Church at Mamboleo, Kisumu County Sunday.
“A God-led country is destined for greater heights. The Government recognizes the church as a dependable partner and will not interfere with its independence. We will work together to ensure unity of all Kenyans,” President Kenyatta said.
The President said he ordered the suspension of the proposed Religious Societies Rules to allow structured consultations by the church and government.
He pointed out that the rules were being introduced as remedial measures to deal with illicit activities of those who hide behind the Church to fleece Kenyans or perpetrate criminal activities.
“Religious leaders who con and brainwash their followers or engage in radicalisation and other dangerous doctrines belong to jail, the President said.
President Kenyatta, who stopped earlier at Obunga and Kondele estates to acknowledge greetings from wanainchi, announced Government’s plan to revive the National Youth empowerment programme by the end of this month.
He said the programme, suspended last year over alleged mismanagement of public resources, will be re-launched in all counties to engage youth in activities that contribute to the country’s transformative agenda.
President Kenyatta said the Government remained committed to the success of the youth empowerment programme that provided youth with gainful employment.
Responding to an appeal by local leaders for the revival of the NYS programme, the President said biometric registration of youth groups was going-on to eliminate ghost workers.
President Kenyatta commended the SDA for its role in transforming the country, citing the church’s work in many institutions of learning and health throughout Kenya.
“You have established hospitals, schools and other socially beneficial amenities. You have uplifted communities, empowered our citizens and built our nation,” the President said.
The President said the church leadership and the entire Adventist community have demonstrated commitment in transforming the nation.
The President also told leaders to rise above politics that do not add value to the lives of Kenyans.
President Kenyatta said competitive politics is not enmity and leaders should therefore respect one another for the sake of national unity.
“Politics will not add a plate of food on the table of Kenyans. Let us play politics of ideology and not ethnicity,” he added.
Local leaders led by Kisumu Governor Jack Ranguma, Kisumu central MP Ken Obura, Kabondo Kasipul MP Silvance Osele Onyango and Kisumu West MP Olago Aluoch commended the President for his efforts to unite the country and ensure equitable development.
The leaders told their opposition counterparts to change their style of politics and refrain from personalized campaigns.
SDA President of the East and Central Africa Division Pastor Blasious Ruguri delivered the sermon.
Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, who is a representative of SDA church, elders, also spoke at the Church.