Hustlers must ask William Ruto to deliver on campaign pledges

President William Ruto talks to small scale traders popularly know as 'Hustlers' after his arrival during the hustler fund launch at Green Park stage at Railways on November 30, 2022. [Kelly Ayodi, Standard]

It appears that at some point Dr David Ndii, the President’s chief economic advisor, will be the only real hustler left in the Kenya Kwanza administration.

Any reasonable person would have expected the administration to govern in prose, not the poetry of Hustler Nation.

However, few would have expected the affinity to the bad habits of governing through opacity, lack of policy clarity, and an entrenched siege mentality. Not this quickly anyway.

What do I mean by this? The hustler narrative promised deep structural reforms of our economics and politics.

We were to throw out the leachy cartels and rent-seekers that monopolised important chokepoints of the economy under Jubilee. We were to invest in the welfare of farmers, boda boda riders and mama mboga.

We were to cut waste in government spending. And we would turn a page on toxic politics of ethnicity. All these were core to “The Plan,” a covenant with the people.

This was a decent pitch, that majority of Kenyans decided to take a gamble with. Now the cynics out there would argue that Kenya Kwanza leaders were never sincere about their intentions, and that there is nothing we can do now. I disagree.

The hustler narrative struck a chord because it spoke to millions of Kenyans’ lived realities. It should not matter whether the politicians were being sincere or not.

With the right amount of political pressure, we can force them to try and implement a good share of their campaign promises.

Importantly, the seeming departure from the path of real structural reforms in favour of the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder is not necessarily an indictment of allegedly easily gullible voters. Instead, we should see it as a failure of leadership by a perfidious political class.

If we are brutally honest, it is not obvious that the alternative to Kenya Kwanza was offering anything better; or that they would have done better in office. Kenyan voters knew that when majority took a gamble with Kenya Kwanza.

A charge of naivete against voters would only be justified if they failed to do everything in their power to hold the feet of Kenya Kwanza leaders to the fire regarding their promises.

President William Ruto made us believe that this was our opportune moment to cross the poverty line and lead a dignified life. That is why we took in the hustler narrative in the first place.

We really don’t care about their sincerity. We just want them to deliver their end of the bargain.

The writer is an Assistant Professor at Georgetown University