Between Ruto and Matiang’i whom should we believe?


Deputy President William Ruto shares a light moment with CS Education Dr. Fred Matiang'i and Principal Secretary Dinah Mwinzi during the Africa Tech Challenge (ATC) Award ceremony held at Villa Rosa Kempinski, Nairobi. [ Courtesy]

Political competitions lose meaning when they sink into vendetta. About the most noble thing, perhaps the only noble thing about politics is competition of ideas. Political contests are about individuals and formations pitching for managing power and public affairs.

You float ideas on how you intend to organise and run public affairs in the interest of society. Someone else floats a different idea. Everyone is within their rights to run down your thoughts. But they do not stop there. They also float their own ideas.

They explain why their plans are superior to yours and, therefore, why they should govern. In the end, it is a competition of ideas. Voters listen to everybody. Some go with one side, while others choose a different one.

An independent referee, such as IEBC, arbitrates and announces the winner. The majority have their way, the minority their say. It can be so simple.

Those who lose wait to try again, some other day. But meanwhile they watch those in government and keep them on their toes. Vendetta, however, is different.

It is a prolonged bitter quarrel with someone. It is often a warlike verbal campaign that begets a kindred warlike response. And verbal warfare could burst into physical violence. 

I wrote about this last week, and I will not tire. The campaign against William Ruto is a vendetta. The objective is not to make the public reject him – which is fine. It is, rather, to attract hostility towards him – which should not be part of the game. And I suspect there could be more sinister intentions.

For the avoidance of doubt, I do not speak for Ruto. Once long ago we reflected with him on the possibility. And while we thought it possible, we did not go beyond the preliminaries. Both of us recognise that we are so different that it is not possible for us to work together.

That said, what is happening to Ruto is wrong. He is probably the bad guy his competitors say he is. He has probably put his hand in the till and left with what is not his. And he probably would make a bad president.

Yet, there is still a need for method in dealing with his sins – real and imaginary.

If Ruto has been dipping into the till, he does not deserve to be our president. But what is the point of vilifying him and letting it rest there? The law is clear on what should be done in the circumstances. If someone is not good to be the president, then he is also not good to be the deputy president.

Ruto is one man who could go to bed as deputy president and wake up as the president. The Constitution recognises that and it has clear mechanisms on when and how that could happen.

But the same Constitution also recognises that such a person could do things that make him unfit for public office. Accordingly, every so often Kenyans hear that Ruto is not fit for public office. In that case, his powerful detractors should initiate processes that could lead to his removal.

Downgrading his security smacks of cheap vendetta. It is also spiteful not just to Ruto but to the very important office of Deputy President. 

Calling a man, a thief without further action is worse than cheap. This is especially so if you are the person in charge of arresting thieves. The powerful people who seem to know Ruto is a thief and a serial liar should now commence action for his removal, or otherwise shut up.

When the Cabinet Secretary for Interior says Ruto has so many police guards and Ruto denies, we don’t know whom to believe.  It is one man’s word against the other. When Ruto denies his purported catalogue of wealth as unleashed by Fred Matiang’i, we don’t know who is lying.

Equally important, we don’t know who else owns what, how they got it, and how it is guarded. Who gave out the guards? Why? This is childish political stuff. If Ruto is a thug, let him be removed according to the law. This state-driven kiddish junk is tedious to taxpayers.

Dr Barrack Muluka, PhD [Politics & International Relations, Leicester, UK].

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