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How President Ruto's style differs from his predecessor's

President William Ruto before he addressed Members of Parliament and the Senate. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The Holy Bible, from where President William Ruto seems to draw his political doctrines, opines that all and sundry are “fearfully and wonderfully made”. Therefore, to try and compare Ruto with his former boss, President Uhuru Kenyatta is a task of incommensurable magnitude.

However, during his campaigns, Dr Ruto kept reminding his detractors that, “I am not Uhuru Kenyatta”. So I ask, is Ruto truly different from Uhuru, and if yes, how?

My observation that some Kenyans have not yet beheld Dr Ruto as their president inspired this explainer. Since he is also Kenyan, I have heard critics accuse Ruto and his deputy of not coming to terms with the fact that they won the election and have the government on their shoulders.

Dr Ruto's might is hard to ignore. When he met the outgoing Cabinet secretaries on Tuesday this week, their fallen faces spoke it all. Some of them couldn’t believe the man they openly rejected and poked fun at was the boss.

When he was sworn in, there were rumours that most Cabinet secretaries, especially those who were hard on him during campaigns, had flown abroad and that only a few including the CS for Education, Prof George Albert Omore Magoha, who played his political cards close to his chest, wore a bright face during the Cabinet meeting.

Here are a few things that make Dr Ruto different from the retired president.

Unfortunately, Kenyans haven’t understood why Dr Ruto insisted that he’s different. The president has been sending signals that he is not soft and malleable. From what he has said, we can deduce that he is defining new rules of politics.

Probably, this is why his way of doing politics is unpredictable. He promised to forgive all those who hurt him. However, he won’t have a fellowship with them in his government.

The president loathes handshakes probably because he has suffered under them. For example, he has said that he’s ready to engage Raila Odinga, his arch-opponent during the 2022 presidential polls, but with boundaries.

Secondly, he has indicated that he will always be unpredictable. In The Art of War, Sun Tzu says, "Those skilled in defence hide in the deepest depths of the earth.” For Dr Ruto, his ‘earth’ is formlessness.

Those who have tried to theorise or predict Dr Ruto have been exposed. He has led many down the wrong paths for self-detonation. Those lucky to work in the president's Hustler government must take their time to understand how he works, his expectations, and how he transforms into different personalities.

Third, Dr Ruto is crafting, to the international community, an image of Africa’s Barack Obama. If Africa were to elect a president, Ruto would go for the seat. He’s daringly ambitious—more than his former boss.

The fourth point is that Dr Ruto will be a supervisor in his government. He has handed over everything, including duties, to Rigathi Gachagua his deputy and his Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi.

This defines Dr Ruto as a delegator of responsibilities, leaving him with what matters as a paragon of leadership. Whether this can haunt him in future is a matter of waiting. We know that leading through delegation is an SI unit for a secure leader.

Fifth, Dr Ruto is a human being with faults. Nevertheless, his religious stance has helped him to handle matters amicably. Moreover, he is avoiding hard to carry out hot hair threats that usually decorate newly elected leaders in Africa. 

Therefore, Dr Ruto might have a different personality from that of Mr Kenyatta. However, Kenyans are eager to see if the heads of the corrupt and graft lords will roll. We shall wait to see whether his political doctrine will refocus the country toward a transformative and prosperous route.

Dr Ndonye is a senior lecturer in School of Music and Media at Kabarak University