Kenyans are nearly two years away from the next general elections yet political campaigns are already approximating fever pitch.
Out of all those salivating for the top seat, perhaps it is the Deputy President William Ruto, whose antics and spectacle have been discussed the most. Ruto’s resolve to lead Kenya, though laudable, presents a number of concerns that require problematizing.
As Deputy President, Ruto has constitutional obligations to serve Kenyans, yet he seems to have abandoned his responsibilities and instead focused his energies in vote hunting. To be fair, Ruto, like any other Kenyan, has the right to seek political leadership at whatever level.
However, his approach flies in the face of the very issues he is canvassing. By profiting from a government he seemingly no longer serves, including in drawing salaries, he is being disingenuous. If he has neglected his duties, he should find it reasonable to resign from his position and pursue his political ambitions.
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Secondly, no amount of charity and handouts can build a country. The Deputy President has been on a donation spree; giving money and other goodies to churches and youth groups. Lately, he has been dolling out wheelbarrows.
No Kenyan pulls a wheel cart out of choice. Earlier this week, a local television station carried the heart-breaking story of one Tony Kipchirchir who despite having graduated with a manufacturing engineering degree five years ago remains jobless.
Kipchirchir’s futile search for gainful employment, has forced him into pulling a cart, to cater for his daily needs. Kipchirchir’s story is one that a large band of Kenyan youth identifies with. The many years spent pursuing education amounts to naught when it comes to the jobs table.
People like Kipchirchir do not need a new wheel cart. They don’t need a motorcycle. As victims of an elite driven system that has relegated majority of Kenyans to begging, handouts and ceaseless hopelessness, they require pragmatic grassroots empowerment programmes. Giving them wheelbarrows is only a painful reminder that their situation is not about to change; that their education does not matter.
As a presidential contender and current signatory to the presidency, Ruto should first be explaining to Kenyans the existing gaps in government policies and programmes. He should then proceed to spell out how he intends to plug such gaps in the event that he becomes the next president.
Kenya should not be a nation grounded on the fallacious ‘hustler’ tag. The hustle that Kenyans know is that of pain, with little prospects of amity; not that of a level playing field where merit, grit and equal opportunity determines how far one rises.
To create a more inclusive, equitable and prosperous country, politicians including Ruto must present compelling, rational and possible vision and not a few banal taglines. At this point, it is nearly impossible to tell which vision the Deputy President is pursuing. He remains part of the government while being recluse to what the government is doing.
Perhaps in a hurry to build his political base, Ruto has demonstrated his disregard for continuity and stability; running counter to the very ideals he signed up for as the country’s second in command. Since he is serving his second term, the Deputy President cannot distance himself from the Jubilee government scorecard.
Instead of trying to stage a revolution from within, Ruto should throw in the gauntlet, be his own man and shape a new agenda for Kenya. Until then, I believe he cannot muster a clear conscience knowing that he is biting that hand that feeds him.
-The writer comments on politics and governance. Twitter: @Cavinceworld