By bringing the idea of a president and his deputy being elected on the same ticket, framers of the 2010 Constitution wanted to create a formidable Executive office.
Most likely they did not foresee a situation where an overly ambitious Deputy President would go rogue by subverting government through abandoning collective responsibility. This doctrine of collective responsibility also known as collective ministerial responsibility requires that all members of Cabinet shall support, abide, and follow all government decisions made in Cabinet even if they do not privately agree with them. It is now clear to all and sundry that DP William Samoei Ruto is actively subverting the same Jubilee government he serves in.
Since independence, Kenya’s President and his principal assistant have not always enjoyed the best of relations. President Jomo Kenyatta fell out with Jaramogi Oginga in 1966, President Moi demoted Mwai Kibaki as the vice president in 1988 and appointed him Health minister. Kibaki later resigned to form Democratic Party.
Moi then exerted pressure on his successor, Dr Josephat Karanja, who quit as the VP in 1989. He was succeeded by George Saitoti. Come August 2002, President Moi offloaded Prof Saitoti, after he opposed his boss’ choice of Uhuru Kenyatta as his successor.
These experiences of dramatic relations between our former presidents and their deputies must have informed the conception of Chapter 9 of the Constitution to secure the position of the second in command in the supreme law of the land.
- 1 Battle of the mighty as parties race for MCA seats in Nakuru
- 2 Uhuru now kicks out the only Ruto man left in Jubilee Party
- 3 Kanu pulls out of poll in favour of Jubilee
- 4 Kositany removed as Jubilee Deputy Secretary-General
Upon attaining State power under the 2010 Constitution, President Kenyatta and his deputy fashioned themselves as a co-presidency of sorts that allowed Ruto to enjoy great latitude from the partnership.
Article 130 of the Constitution defines the national executive as comprising of the President, the DP and the rest of the Cabinet, effectively giving constitutional protection to the holder of the office of the DP.
Regrettably, Ruto chose to misuse this constitutional protection to instigate administrative paralysis in government, leading to his turbulent fallout with the President over dimmed succession prospects as the Jubilee candidate in 2022. Uhuru is on record saying that Ruto was not focused on the duties assigned to him, his only focus being disruptive premature campaigns to succeed him.
The moniker Tangatanga, in reference to the DP and his team of premature campaigners, arose from Uhuru’s very early complaint that his deputy was mostly roaming around the country instead of discharging his duties.
However, more recently, the most damning act has been the formation of a full-fledged campaign machinery while the next elections are more than one and a half years away.
Ruto is guilty of undermining his boss, as he continues to enjoy the privileges that go with the position that he holds. When the ruling Jubilee Party decided not to field a candidate in last year’s Mswambweni by-election, Ruto backed an independent candidate.
These manoeuvres have emboldened the DP so much that he encouraged his allies to take over and brand a new party, United Democratic Alliance (UDA), which has gone ahead to field candidates in various by-elections, even where Jubilee is represented.
For the eight years he has been in government, defiant Ruto has either been on the campaign trail or distributing goodies to woo supporters for his presidential ambition, more so in the president’s Mt Kenya backyard.
It’s apparent that the relationship between the two men is in tatters. The ‘bromance’ has turned sour. In the old dispensation, all it would have taken was a mere radio announcement removing Ruto from office.
Consequently, the only way out of this governmental confusion is the removal of the DP through the Constitution.
Article 150 (1) b of our constitution provides for the removal of DP through impeachment. The article provides the grounds for impeachment which include gross violation of the Constitution or any other laws, commission of crimes under international or national laws or for gross misconduct. There can be no better evidence of gross misconduct than the affronts that the DP has lately been hurling at the president. Judiciously examined the DP may be found guilty on more other grounds.
By going around trumpeting the so-called ‘Hustler Nation’ narrative, before official campaigns and during Covid-19 restrictions, Ruto’s allies have been literally inciting Kenyans to rebel against their government, while pretending to champion their empowerment.
In traversing the country to popularise the wheelbarrow, UDA’s symbol, Ruto is undermining President Kenyatta’s current successes while inculcating a siege mentality among the so-called hustlers against supposed “dynasties”.
Ruto should therefore be held to account for his irresponsible politics. Uhuru’s recent moves to reduce his DP to size are commendable in the arena of political games. The president has neutralised his DP’s influence on the Senate and National Assembly, pushed him out of the government high table, effectively leaving him to whine on the political bundus.
But this is not enough for a man running away from collective responsibility of a government he deputises. The president should move with speed, marshal his soldiers and those of his handshake partner, invoke Article 150 and impeach DP Ruto because that is the right thing to do in the arena of political games.
Mr Kamau is a Kenyan lawyer. [email protected]