Martha Wangari Karua is the incoming Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya. And upon this declaration of confidence, let’s talk about the kind of DP she will become. Unfortunately, we are compelled to only make a comparison between her and the current holder of the office, William Ruto. Let’s begin with the differences. First, one is a man and the other a woman. Instructively, we live in a patriarchal society that has, for long, associated leadership with the male gender.
But on account of many years of struggle by women that resulted in various policy changes, including affirmative action, women are increasingly occupying space in public leadership. As such, the rise of Karua to position of DP, will be an earth shaking and ground breaking phenomenon.
If, for instance, a woman was the occupant of the position of DP in the first term of the Jubilee government, maybe, former Chief Justice David Maraga would not have written to the President and advised him to dissolve Parliament.
The failure to enact the two-third gender rule is linked to the fact that the first executive was male-dominated.
Second, circumstances under which Karua and Ruto expressed interest in the position of DP are different. While Ruto’s unity with Uhuru was largely pegged on the ICC issue and his 2022 interest, Karua presented herself to fundamentally serve Kenyans.
Of the potential Azimio running mates paraded in an interview panel in May this year, she is the only one who approached it as a presentation of credentials for service, not a display of status or political standing for reward. Further, while Karua’s history paints a picture of a Kenyan who has always championed constitutionalism and the rule of law, Ruto, is a product and prodigy of the status quo.
This, therefore, means Karua will use the office of DP to advance constitutionalism and the rule of law for the benefit of Kenyans. The same could not be said about Ruto before he assumed the office of DP, if his history was the yardstick.
Third is the fact that the character of Karua and that of Ruto are diametrically opposed. The public perception of Karua and that of Ruto cannot be spoken about in the same breath.
While one is perceived to be honest and straightforward, the other is perceived to be dishonest and shrewd.
For obvious reasons, I will leave it to the readers to correctly match the persons and the characters as indicated above.
When it comes to similarities, Karua, just like Ruto, will occupy an office that comes with much power but little authority. As such, the question of whether Karua will have a better relationship with the president is a matter of immediate political discourse. Unlike Ruto, Karua is not taking over the office of DP as a ‘co-president’, but as a deputy president.
This is because her followership is pegged on what she represents (integrity) and not ethnicity. Ruto on the other hand, spent his tenure loudly enumerating how many votes he brought into the presidency, purely based on tribal arithmetic.
In sum, the history and character of Karua suggests that she will make a better DP as compared to Ruto. Further, with Karua as DP, Women and youth issues will be mainstreamed in cabinet and thus in the operations and policies of the government.
With Karua as DP, Kenyans can have some level of certainty that their government will not continue with culture of disobeying court orders or initiating policies contrary to the rule of law. To make a long story short, Karua will make a far better Deputy President than Ruto ever did.
The writer is a political analyst and PhD student. Twitter: @Daisymaina7