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Reality Check: Why the UhuRuto phenomenon could be falling apart

By Walter Chesang | Published Thu, July 5th 2018 at 00:00, Updated July 4th 2018 at 18:41 GMT +3
President Uhuru Kenyatta and hi deputy WIlliam Ruto at a past campaign rally in Busiaa. [File, Standard]

The Constitution of Kenya, 2010 chapter 9 on the Executive has very clear provisions on the nomination, election, assumption of office, authority, functions, powers and remuneration of the President, Deputy President and Cabinet Secretaries. The President is the “de jure” Head of State and Head of Government as well as the Commander in Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces.

The relationship between the President, deputy president and Cabinet secretaries is crystal clear. The President is the boss and the buck stops with him. Period. The President can hire and fire Cabinet secretaries. There is no provision for co-presidency or sharing of presidential powers. However, the Jubilee administration is anchored on fallacies and myths that borders on the insane. Here are the fallacies.

Constitution hullabaloo

First is the 2022 succession debate.The country is gripped by debilitating and energy sapping debate on why William Samoei Ruto (WSR) should be president in 2022. The raging debate is similar to the change the Constitution hullabaloo of 1976.

It took the genius of the Constitutional Puritanism of Charles Mugane Njonjo to bring sobriety in the land when he stated categorically that “it is a Criminal offence for any person to encompass, imagine, devise or intend the death or deposition of the President…. Furthermore, it is also an offence to express, utter or declare such encompassing, imaginations, devices or intentions by publishing them in print or writing”. There is no provision in the Supreme law that states that the deputy president will take over when the President retires. It is the end of the game and a fresh start for all Kenyans.

Second, Kenyans have been hoodwinked that without the sweat and tears of WSR, Uhuru Kenyatta would not and could not have been the President of Kenya. This is the greatest fallacy in Kenyan history.

How much did Ruto contribute to Uhuru Kenyatta’s election in 2013 and 2017? Let us undertake a forensic political audit. Which building, which cow, which venue, which strategy, which deliverables did Ruto give Kenyatta? Company yes, but who paid the bills. May the audit begin.

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Third is the claim that the Kikuyu and Kalenjin are a formidable political force. The two communities have provided all the four presidents since independence and will continue to provide more future presidents. However, their tyranny of numbers is not enough to guarantee prosperity for all the Kenyan people. The August 2017 General Election was nullified by the Supreme Court.

The fresh presidential election October 26, 2017 was boycotted by the successful petitioner Raila Odinga. It took the extra constitutional initiative known as Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), popularly called the “handshake”, for the temperatures to calm down.

Exclusionism in the name of winner-takes-it-all will not and will never guarantee peace to our country. Some form of inclusivity must be envisaged and entrenched for Kenya to prosper. Any other way is no way.

The fourth fallacy is that Ruto is owed some debt by Uhuru Kenyatta. Chinua Achebe, the founding father of modern African literature, in his book ‘Things Fall Apart’ captures this fallacy very well in an early morning encounter between Unoka the father of Okonkwo and his neighbou Okoye.

Poor producer

Okoye was preparing to take the Idemili title, the third highest in the land and a very expensive ceremony that forced him to gather all his resources together, including some 200 cowries Unoka had borrowed from him years back.

Unoka laughed loud and long when he learned of Okoye’s mission and eventually, between fresh outbursts of mirth, he told Okoye: “Look at that wall …..Look at those lines of chalk….Each group represents a debt to someone, and each stroke is 100 cowries. You see, I owe that man 1,000 cowries. But he has not come to wake me up in the morning for it. I will pay you, but not today. Our elders say that the sun will shine on those who stand before it shines on those who kneel under them. I will pay my big debts, first”. Mr Deputy President you will be paid, but not today (2022). Big debts must be paid first. And you know it.

The fifth fallacy is that Ruto is a political genius. The deputy president is a good consumer of political products but a very poor producer of political outputs.

WSR seems to forget that “those whose palm-kernels were cracked for them by a benevolent spirit should not forget to be humble”. There are those who think the DP would rather watch you hurtle down the cliff and then ask belatedly “why did he do it”. The risk of this is that the sheep will break into tumult instead of action when they are needed most.

 Mr Chesang is a historian


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