Hasty decisions and blunders that have made president to look bad

President William Ruto. [Beverlyne Musili, Standard]

William Ruto shows signs of losing tract in his first Jamhuri Day celebration as president.

Dr Ruto upset President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga’s political calculations by scheming better than they could. But as president, he seems to rush into everything which occasionally lands him into unpleasant zones. This disappoints many who had high hopes in his presidency.

Ruto developed political knack for attracting attention by going against the odds to identify with ‘underdogs’ and challenge conventional wisdom. He was a junior operator in Youth for Kanu (YK ’92), an outfit that seemingly had visible and invisible purposes. The visible purpose, which Ruto was aware of, was to ensure that Daniel arap Moi won the multi-party election. The invisible objective was reportedly to take over Kanu in case Moi lost.

Since Moi probably knew of the hidden objective, among his first acts on being declared the winner was to destroy YK ’92.

The destruction sent Ruto back to the political drawing room with the seeming purpose of showing independence from Moi. After dethroning Moi’s confidant in Eldoret in 1997, Reuben Chesire, he joined an internal Kanu rebel group until Moi accommodated him in his inner circles.

Standing with Uhuru after he lost the 2002 presidential election, Ruto quickly grabbed Moi’s political base in 2007, thereby making Moi irrelevant. The most effective member of Raila’s Pentagon, he and Uhuru landed at The Hague, extricated themselves and matched to the presidency. He again beat the odds by winning the 2022 election.

As president, Ruto is seemingly rushing to out-do Uhuru, just as Uhuru had wanted to outshine Jomo, Moi, and Mwai, thereby creating confusion and contradictions. The Finance CS ordered cost-cutting measures, curtailing travel and conferences.

Notwithstanding, Dr Ruto still took over 350 ‘delegates’ to Egypt to enjoy ‘climate change’. The public, wondering about the ‘joy-riding’ delegation, hardly heard what the president said about climate change. Besides, his initial negative behaviour where sensitive global issues were concerned, made him seem gullible to external pressure.

President William Ruto. [File, Standard]

The seeming gullibility was in his attempts to reverse two long-standing policies. First was the Saharawi blunder in which after receiving Morocco’s Foreign Minister, he tweeted that  Kenya would no longer recognise Sahrawi.

This implied that Ruto, acting contrary to African Union's wishes, had little respect for the body. Public backlash forced him to delete the tweet and the Foreign Ministry clarified that Kenya does not make policy through Twitter.

The second questionable decision was the reversing Kenya’s GMO policy. Seemingly responding to American ‘pressure’, Ruto made the departing Uhuru Cabinet to reverse the GMO policy. Why he could not wait two weeks for his own Cabinet to deliberate and decide on the GMO issue was puzzling. His CSs' issuing contradictory statements or using bragging language raised eyebrows as to what was going on. Citizens went to court and it stopped importation of GMO maize.

Although Ruto has done well, through Uhuru, in promoting peace efforts in Ethiopia and DRC and relating to South Africa, his initial achievements pale when compared to blunders in domestic and international arena. The setbacks, it appears, are because Ruto probably does not get or listen to good advice to review sectors critical national interests. There is global geopolitical realignment with countries reviewing security and foreign policies to safeguard their interests.

Ruto has made interesting appointments to critical offices which should, in theory, help him discard the image of gullibility. These are people with probable strategic thinking ability who can dovetail purported ideals and visions, if any, with actual capabilities. To avoid continued blunders, Dr Ruto needs competent teams to review all aspects of national policy.