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Examining the weight of the Presidency: A strategic lens to 2027

 President William Ruto receives instruments of power from former President Uhuru Kenyatta. [PSCU, Standard]

As President William Ruto settles into office and adjusts his in-tray to receive the endless stream of files that will be flowing in and out, three inescapable hallmarks that will counterweight every decision he will be making will be Government reorganisation, winning 2027 and securing his legacy come 2032.

His is not a unique tenure, however, if he applies to himself to the art of strategy, foresight and whole of Government thinking.

The art of strategy at the Presidential level calls for restraint and pace. It calls for urgency and patience and therefore speaks to a dynamic rhythm that allows decisions to be tampered with the strategic goal and implications thereof. The first decision the President will have to weigh in is unbundling those who only bring loyalty and longevity without a sense of strategy.

It is not betrayal to re-assign or field such persons where they shall do best given the stakes that come with the office of the Presidency. This means that he needs to be bring at his proximity strategists who are multi-dimensional in their thinking and those with tangible brain mobility garnered from multiple sectors.

They need to show empathy and a ruthless approach to execution and follow through because any ball dropping has wide reaching implications. Persons with single expertise and tunnel vision or with minimal international exposure will have a steep learning curve and thus will be better placed in a career development pathway across ministries before they can be able to come at the Presidency once they have attained the necessary temerity and capacity to adapt, transition and stretch.

Foresight on the other hand speaks to the need to develop the anticipatory muscle and not be taken by surprise by the unfolding circumstances in the immediate. While the administration system security service chiefs, accounting officers both at ministries, departments and agencies and the national government administrative officers are well trained and supported with the necessary resources to execute the day-to-day tasks, the office of the Presidency is the centrifuge of the political, economic, security and social forces that impact on the nation and thus needs to develop the adaptive and anticipative capability.

Knowing the history of coalition politics in Kenya, one inescapable risk is the political fragility endemic in coalitions. For President Ruto to be well primed for the 2027, he will need to face the reality that UDA must die or mutate into a new form for him to prepare an agile campaign team that will work on his re-election starting immediately. Of course, publicly play the narrative of delivering on his election manifesto but at a parallel track, he will have to review from a foresight lens the implications of the current UDA constellation and anticipate the new formations to his advantage.

The strategy genius in President Ruto is not in doubt. What he is perhaps going to come to realize is his mental processor is far more sophisticated than most of the appointees who will be beneficiaries of being in the right party at the right time and thus implementing the vision of the President from a whole of government thinking perspective will be challenging. It is here that the President will need to implore to his cabinet to be careful in the selection of chiefs of staff, policy and technical advisors and senior management across ministries. There is no doubt that the country is at a critical juncture.

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