Ruto and his 'Hustler Grandees' living large as real hustlers suffer

President William Ruto in arrives for an event in Kegati, Nyaribari Chache, Kisii County. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

William Ruto is hard-working, politically crafty, focused, and has produced a privileged class - The Hustler Grandees - with all the airs of European aristocratic pretensions. They take their cue from The Grand Master himself, Dr Ruto, in flouting their presence with a grating ‘don’t care’ attitude.

They appear to have an unlimited supply of public resources to enjoy even as education and health services deteriorate. In the process, they seem to be courting a revolution and appear to be oblivious about it. They seem to ask Kenyans, mta-do?

More than most political players, the Grand Master knows Kujipanga into power. Rarely one in the crowd, he creates his crowd to lead and, using any means necessary, manages to outdo his would-be competitors.

He started right from college as Cyrus Jirongo’s Mtu wa Mkono in Youth for Kanu ‘92 (YK’92) to help President Moi retain his job in the midst of the multi-party onslaught.

When in 1993 Moi dissolved YK ‘92, Ruto skillfully worked systematically to dislodge Moi. He first successfully removed Moi’s friend Reuben Chesire in Eldoret to establish a personal political base and then, after 2002, replaced Moi himself as the Grand Master of the Kalenjin. 

He and Uhuru Kenyatta were together in the losing campaign against Mwai Kibaki in 2002. In the 2005 Orange-Banana referendum, he helped to found ODM before they split in 2007. Active in the 2007-2008 electoral fiasco as a member of Raila Odinga’s Pentagon, Ruto found himself, along with Uhuru, at The Hague, and they entered a temporary alliance. Uhuru’s team, asserted Uhuru man Raphael Tuju, offered Ruto Sh10 billion ‘persuasion’ to be Uhuru’s deputy in the 2013 election.

In victory, the two behaved like political twins, eating meat in public places as political rivals watched. While Uhuru lamented inability to contain Sh2 billion daily corruption, however, Ruto took credit for work done. The difference was glaring in the second term when they turned on each other.

Ruto successfully outplayed Uhuru and Raila in 2022. He probably used Uhuru’s ‘persuasion’, turned ‘faith’ into a campaign tool, and portrayed Uhuru and Raila as drunks with little time for the Word.

In labelling Ruto Tangatanga and coining the term ‘The Fifth’ to refer to Raila, the election was Uhuru’s and Raila’s to lose and they did partly because they were so complacent that Ruto snatched victory from under their political feet. Subsequently, Ruto enjoys being The Fifth and rubbing their noses on political dirt. Ruto succeeded in capturing the presidency but has problems being effective because of broad limitations in world exposure, understanding political economy and ability to pick quality advisors. He demoralises by micromanaging and increasing poverty hiking taxes.

Good at picking fights and putting others on the defensive, he is poor at gauging the national interests to protect. He likes the flattery that comes from cheer-leaders cheering him into domestic chaos as his Hustler Grandees assume ‘aristocratic’ behaviour that is common in the Conceptual West while ignoring Hustler suffering. 

Hungering for Western recognition as leader of Africans, Ruto makes decisions on the spur of the moment that boomerangs and damages Kenya’s international image.

He appears like a diplomatic Nyapara shepherding African countries into conformity. He let extra-continental forces praise him into Haiti and other looming geopolitical disasters.

 Although Ruto aspires to be good, his policies betray him. Seemingly insensitive to the obligations of his office and the suffering of hustlers who elected him, he vows to disobey court orders and gives the impression that he does not respect the rule of law.

His Hustler Grandees display conspicuous wastage that include importing high flying Euro-preachers, establishing unusual offices like ‘Office of’ a daughter or a spouse, and crony appointments whose incompetence Ruto admits.

Instead of inspiring the public, therefore, he and the Hustler Grandees end up instilling a sense of despair, which is tragic for a president.  

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