Why Ruto might not reap much from his western Kenya forays

Deputy President William Ruto should make up his mind on this. During one of his whirlwind rallies a month ago, he averred nobody owes him any political debt.

In consequent rallies, he stated that politics is, and must be shoved behind us because the only debt he is aware of is that of leaders to the electorate.

We must push development projects, he preaches and before you say amen, he is talking about an obscure debt that Raila Odinga and Musalia Mudavadi owe him.

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Who knows, at this rate he might be telling us retired President Daniel Moi owes him a debt for having staunchly supported the defunct YK 92. Sometimes, I find it difficult to take Ruto seriously.

In retrospect, one of Ruto’s favourite passages during campaigns in the run-up to last year’s elections was that ‘darkness and light do not mix’. The implied was clear. Epithets like “lord of poverty’, ‘yule jamaa wa vitendawili’ and ‘mtu wa waganga’ (Witchcraft) enriched his vocabulary at the time. Not too long ago, while taking a dig at those who questioned his magnanimity in contributing millions of shillings to harambees every week, Ruto proudly declared he is an’ investor in heaven’. I do not begrudge him that, for it is a noble thing to do.

What I do not understand is why the quest for the presidency, an earthly thing, should cause him to backslide in his faith. By beseeching Raila and Mudavadi to catapult him to the presidency, Ruto wants to mix day and night. He wants to introduce ‘waganga’ into heaven. That is sacriligeous.

It’s perhaps too late in the day for Ruto to retrace his steps. Unfortunately, too confident of himself, he burned his bridges only to encounter this unforeseen chasm in which an ogre reposes, and he must go back to fetch assistance to overcome it.

Luhya unity

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Over time, the Luhya nation has been the politicians’ playground. It has provided the much-needed votes to catapult anybody, but its own, to the presidency. Ruto might be banking on that, but although Luhya unity has been elusive for a while now, circumstances have changed.

Today, they have a rallying point. There is clarity that allows the Luhya to see how they have all along been taken for granted. Ruto’s persistent visits to Western bespeak of desperation, perhaps because those charged with spreading his gospel have barely scratched the surface.

With so much despair following the collapse of virtually all factories in Western region, what credit does Ruto have to sway the Luhya vote to his side? What will convince a man who cannot feed his family, let alone educate his children because Mumias Sugar is comatose, to dance to Ruto’s tune? Despite flowery promises delivered by Ruto personally; like a Sh5 billion bailout for Mumias Sugar, nothing has happened. If it did, someone remind me, I have been too busy lately.

Maize farmers

The once vibrant Pan Paper Mills, rechristened Rai, remains inoperational, yet it was Ruto who promised the Luhya nation in 2016 that all will be fine.  Maize farmers in Western Kenya wonder whether it is worth the while to engage in the back breaking exercise of maize farming when politically correct individuals can import cheap maize and flood the market. I won’t talk about the Mudete Tea Factory.

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That there is imported contraband sugar in Kenya is not a light matter. That the same sugar contains cancer causing metals like mercury, lead and copper should have gotten Kenyans on the streets, but they are a patient lot. Farmers in the Western and Nyanza sugar zones feel the pain and frustration this dumping causes more than anybody else. Thus, those articulating their sentiments on the sugar crisis should weigh their words. But Ruto seemingly has chosen to twist the knife in the people’s wounds by defending Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich against accusations that he is solely responsible for the glut in the market.

But, wasn’t Rotich, by design or accident, the one who failed to specify the quantities of sugar to be imported? Questions hang over Rotich’s head, and it was ill-advised of Ruto to appear to defend him in the presence of hurting sugarcane farmers.

In the midst of a probe on the sugar imports, defending and declaring the CS’s innocence is akin to defending impunity and thumbing ones nose at the investigative agencies.

According to the parliamentary committee’s report on the contraband sugar, Rotich stands accused of negligence.

On debts, the larger central Kenya has indicated it is not going to play ball. There is no reason western Kenya should. It would be a mockery of democracy to sanction a hereditary presidency. Ruto should prove he is the great mobiliser his henchmen claim he is even though his prematurely launched rocket is malfunctioning.

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Mr Chagema is a correspondent at The [email protected]

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