President should know good leaders don't waste crises

President William Ruto during a press briefing at State House where he announced further austerity measures taken by the government. [PCS]

Despite government efforts to discredit protesters as violent, Gen Z will forever be our national heroes.

In their humanity and willingness to love and care for each other during protests, they have put to shame all our religious leaders who have been reputation launderers for corrupt politicians.

In their clear articulation of the contradictions in our politics and economy, they have outdone the most astute political economists.

In daring to reject the temptation to drown in cynicism and conformity, they have challenged all of us to dream of a better Kenya.

May their awakening live on to keep all of us committed to forever building a better Kenya. The Gen Z protesters have given our political leaders two clear options. They have identified the failings of the status quo which has been characterised by incompetence, theft, and general inattention to the ethos of public service.

They have also outlined a vision for a different Kenya, one marked by a good faith effort to use the state and our taxes to improve our collective material conditions and to build a fairer and more caring society.

Now the ball is in President William Ruto’s court. He came to power in a wave that activated populist involvement in elections and the sense that the entire economy needed to be remade to cater for ordinary people and not just the well-connected.

However, for 22 months he has done nothing but reinforce the functioning of the old-rigged economy.

In fact, he made it worse by staffing his administration with incompetents who have completely destroyed the Public Service by failing to do even the bare minimum.

Nothing works in Kenya anymore. Fake fertiliser, failing schools, shuttered hospitals and obscene levels of graft are what we have come to associate with his administration.

Besides not defaulting on our national debt, the administration has nothing it can, in good faith, point to as an achievement touching the lives of Kenyans.

This must change. President Ruto must change course. He must reconstitute his Cabinet and senior levels of the Public Service to bring in competent people. He must prioritise service delivery.

He must ensure that those who betray the public trust take responsibility. He must repair our national social contract. He must work tirelessly to earn the trust of Kenyans who no longer believe anything he says.

-The writer is a Professor at Georgetown University