Mr President, you have become unpopular; do this to win back the public

President William Ruto. [PCS]

Last week, Gen-Z condensed decades-long opposition struggles into a single day and shook the political establishment out of its hubris induced stupor.

Intransigent President William Ruto was forced to climb down from his high perch on the Finance Bill 2024, reject and withdraw it.

As he tries to wiggle out of a tight corner where the protesters and Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua pushed him, Dr Ruto should proceed from the point of understanding that he is immensely unpopular today.

His image and credibility have taken serious beatings, and it will take hard work to assuage public anger and disillusionment to reclaim both.

Mr Gachagua’s diatribe against the National Intelligence Service for allegedly failing to advise Ruto on the Finance Bill, hence contributing to his plummeting popularity, gave life to the tale of the naked king. 

In his book ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’, Hans Christen Anderson tells the story of a king who had a liking for fine clothes.

For each hour of the day, he had a different outfit. Seeking to take advantage of this vanity, two con artists offered to weave a unique fabric for the king that was invisible to fools. 

The king bought the idea, hoping to identify all the intelligent people in his kingdom. When the con men were done sewing the king’s invisible fabric, they helped him get dressed on the appointed day. Those present on the occasion saw that the king was naked, but could not risk appearing foolish by speaking the truth. 

It took a little boy to tell the monarch the truth; that he was naked. Ruto’s affinity for fine clothes is public knowledge. The invisible fabric his economic advisors offered to weave in order to spruce him up left him exposed, but jesters in his court failed to tell him he was naked, until the young Gen Z unceremoniously told him to his face he was naked. 

Millions of educated youth are jobless, frustrated and tired of politicians who ridicule them with their show of opulence; putting on expensive shoes, clothes, watches and donating millions in church harambees every week, yet  government systems have collapsed, partly from poor funding. 

UDA’s parliamentary leadership and Cabinet secretaries have failed Ruto too. The arrogant and loquacious among them have contributed immensely to Ruto’s plummeting popularity.

The President should consider reconstituting the Cabinet and staff it with performers, not bewildered political operatives whose allegiance is to the appointing authority. 

Scraping posts and offices that are public liabilities would signal intent to cut down on public expenditure. These include the Prime Cabinet Secretary’s office, offices of the spouses of the President, deputy president and Prime Cabinet Secretary. Their huge budgets should be put to worthy causes. 

In Kenya, most people get into politics to take advantage of the monetary opportunities available to elected leaders. It is preposterous to pay an individual Sh1 million monthly, allowances, give them huge medical covers and other perks yet pay professionals like doctors, engineers peanuts.

Perhaps if politics was made less lucrative, it will only attract those who intend to serve, not enrich themselves. 

There must be genuine political desire to tackle corruption and tribalism by de-linking the latter from our politics. The tendency by successive presidents to surround themselves with people from their tribes, planting them in big posts they are ill-equipped to manage, is the biggest contributor to corruption and mediocrity in government, and the collapse of systems.

Rejection of the Finance Bill was just the beginning. The youths have shown they have the numbers and determination to make leaders bend to their will.

Thus, it is no longer business as usual for Ruto. He must change tack and drop those who have aided his descent into public ridicule.