It’s time DP Ruto to choose between working in Government and walking out of it, he can’t have it both ways
By JACOB OKETCH
The extent of disagreement between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto has finally come out in the open and it does not look good. Previously, the two have restrained themselves- to the extent that they have never been saying negative things against each other in public-until the President fired the salvo about other communities deserving a chance for leadership at the top of the Kikuyu and the Kalenjin communities having done their stretch. The Deputy President came out with guns blazing.
This tiff puts the Deputy President in a very awkward position given that he is expected to assist the President secure his legacy-via the big four agenda-yet he has gone full throttle in laying the ground work for his upcoming presidential campaign. The President and his deputy are moving in opposite directions- at a time the country direly needs a united leadership to deal with the myriad challenges facing the country.
It is not in my place to say who is politically correct between the two. But Kenyans went into the 2017 general elections with a specific mandate-to elect leaders who would govern for the next five years. Hence, to witness a divided administration-midway to the five-year term-is a very disappointing thing for the millions of Kenyans who voted in the Uhuruto regime and the rest of the citizenry. What happens to the grandiose Jubilee manifesto that was meant to achieve so much?
The Deputy President cannot sit pretty when he is earning a salary he cannot account for. All we are now seeing him do is incessantly campaigning; complete with a very unsettling political mantra that if not checked can easily lead the country to anarchy. The DP is pushing for a situation where the have-nots will be baying for the blood of the haves based on a spurious premise that this country has been ruled for far too long by dynasties and now is the time for the proletariats to chart the country’s course.
What baffles me is that the Deputy President has, throughout his political career, been a major beneficiary of what he terms as the dynasties. Was he not a major beneficiary of the Moi government where he even served as a full cabinet minister? Was he not the running mate of the President, twice? Has he not benefitted from the Jubilee spending spree since taking over power? Didnt he jointly preside over many government policies for the last eight years since Jubilee came to power? How can he wake up one day and disown all that has actually nurtured him as a politician?
Even more baffling is the DP’s attempt to distance himself from the failures of the Jubilee government. In the first five years of Jubilee, the DP was virtually at the centre of power. Half of the Cabinet were people that he personally recommended. Even now, the Cabinet still has a substantial number of people who directly owe their positions to the DP.It then means that a bigger proportion of the failures of the government are directly linked to the DP, though collectively-with the President. Therefore, the DP cannot chicken out at the eleventh hour from the missteps of the administration. It is a poor tactic that will boomerang on him when the electorate begins to interrogate him.
But what now is becoming a worrisome situation is the escalation of the rift between the DP and the President-to the extent that the President has publicly complained of leaders insulting him in functions presided by the DP, the latest episode where former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko was caught on tape referring to the president as a drunkard. Much as leaders can criticize each other, it is unacceptable for a leader to refer to the head of state in such disparaging terms. Though the DP may not have been in attendance, his name was invoked by the controversial former governor-and that is just enough-to lend credence to the idea that his allies are disrespecting the head of state.
Kenyans need a leadership that works together. Whatever differences the DP has with the President, decorum demands that the two relate cordially. Since they were elected on a joint ticket, the DP has to find a way of working with the President in a way that respect between them is maintained. It is time the DP reined in his allies with a tacit warning that they will be insulting the head of state at their own peril. The tension that we are witnessing between the two leaders does not inspire confidence among the Kenyan people.
It is incumbent upon the DP to decide whether he wants to work with the President to the end of his term or relinquish his position and concentrate on his task ahead-garnering for the presidency in 2022. That is the only way the administration will have a seamless run in the coming months. As the late former Vice President George Saitoti reminded us, there comes a time when the nation is more important than an individual.
The writer is the author of Aphorism and Poems of Light