Refusal to honour pacts a marker for dishonesty

Deputy President William Ruto. [Standard]

Strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered….” Zechariah 13:7

The ideal shepherd is one who knows his sheep. The sheep trust him and recognise his voice. This trust is built as the flock learns to associate the shepherd’s voice with benefits. The flock knows the sound of the man who feeds, cares and protects it from predators.

The relationship between rulers and citizens is analogous to that of shepherd and flock. This is especially so in Africa where leadership is synonymous with benefits accruing to those closest to the centre of power. Kenya is not exempt from this trend. Citizens trust that leaders, even at the most basic level, will provide goodies that come standard with the trappings of power.

It is not hyperbolic to suggest that the Jubilee administration has created a tremendous trust deficit among its staunchest supporters. The anticipated benefits have not trickled down to citizens. Instead, the nation appears captive to extractive capitalists from the orient. It also seems to be in thrall to predatory cartels who have all, but depleted national coffers. Life has become appreciably harder for most Kenyans and the outlook does not look rosy in the near future.

SEE ALSO :Ruto threatened me, claims Mutua

President Kenyatta has tried to ameliorate the suffering of his supporters through a raft of measures. Instructively, these measures are aimed at his backyard where cries of neglect are gathering currency.

Good shepherd

Sample this: Sh3 billion Cherry Revolving Fund within 30 days to cushion coffee farmers from delayed payments. Sh500 million to new KCC to purchase excess milk from farmers. Sh575 million for two milk plants in Nyeri and Nyahururu. Sh300 million for the construction of cold storage and processing facilities In Nyandarua and Meru. New Tea Regulations 2019 to cushion farmers against price fluctuations and to ensure implementation of guaranteed minimum returns.

However, there  has been no mention of a stimulus package for the resuscitation of the sugar belt and its attendant industries. None about maize farming as farmers experience diminishing returns yearly with cartels importing the national deficit at usurious prices. One wonders whether this is a case of the Biblical good shepherd who leaves 99 sheep to go after one. Or if it is a typical case of punishing regions deemed politically incorrect through selective allocation of state resources. Or if it is  a last-ditch effort to hold onto a region that is growing restive and refuses to be spell-bound by the ethnic narrative.  

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The events of last week in Kasarani seem to point to a desperation of sorts. Residents demonstrating against the deplorable state of the Kasarani-Mwiki road engaged the police in running battles that lasted over three days. Not even teargas canisters lobbed at them could deter them from their quest. When one considers that Kasarani is a bastion of the president’s supporters, then matters are serious. Opinion has it that the poor state of the road is just a trigger-factor that masks disaffection with the way the Jubilee administration has conducted itself.

Polarised country

For one, it has been quiet as tumescent egos brag about their roles in “stolen” elections. It has been strangely silent at the apparent hornswoggling of the Deputy President through talk of a per-election pact that may not be honoured. It has also turned a blind eye to systematic harassment of opponents of  the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI). The BBI is a  process intended to unify an ethnically polarised country but may just do the opposite.

SEE ALSO :Ruto: I’ll rather lose election than see Kenyans fight over politics

At the recent BBI rally in Kakamega, speaker after speaker sought to portray Dr. Ruto in negative light. But is Ruto the bogeyman of Kenyan politics ? Or is he, because of his perceived pole position in the presidential election of 2022, a sacrificial lamb at the altars of those who would pull no stops to ensure that power goes to them?

It will not be easy to airbrush from the national conscience the fact that yesterday’s bitter adversaries are today’s bosom buddies and vice versa. Nor will it be possible to “press delete” and forget pacts made that bind entire communities and not just individuals. Were these pacts dishonoured, they would show up the country’s politicians to be deficient in matters of trust; wolves in sheep’s clothing.  Further, they would reveal the lack of guarantees of  political sinecures for supporters of the BBI proponents.  

Meanwhile, a chorus of voices continues to remonstrate against Ruto, declaring him disloyal to the president. They seem determined to strike at the shepherd so that the flock of dissent may scatter. But will the lambs be silenced? Only time will tell. 

Mr Khafafa is a Public Policy Analyst

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Deputy President William RutoBuilding Bridges Initiative