Hurling epithets indicates you have a shortage of ideas, Ruto

Deputy President William Ruto giving a speech during the 58th Jamhuri Day Celebrations at Uhuru Gardens, December 12, 2021. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

Front-runners for the upcoming presidential election in August are playing by their own rules. Ideally, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission should give the green light for campaigns to begin, but it hasn’t.

Yet, for months now, Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga have been on the campaign trail for months. While One Kenya Alliance principals (OKA) do the same, it is on a much smaller scale.

You’d think that by now, those seeking votes will have perfected their game and isolated key issues to campaign on. But no, what is increasingly coming out, especially from the deputy president’s camp in UDA, is ad hominen.

Dr Ruto’s messages at every turn are predictable; rantings against ‘cartels’, ‘projects’, ‘pirates’, ‘deep state’ and ‘wakora’ (crooks). Such, if not just downright insensitive, is the clearest indicator of a bankruptcy of ideas, rabble-rousing at its best.

While soberly and objectively addressing issues dear to wananchi would help undecided citizens make up their minds, Ruto is perfecting ad hominen, calling respectable leaders ‘cerelac babies, ‘conmen’, ‘pirates’ and any other epithet that comes to mind.

He has become adept at falsely claiming credit for projects undertaken by the Jubilee government, (he is in UDA by his own admission). He hardly mentions the failed dams and stadium projects, and that marks him as a person highly economical with the truth.

Where Daniel Patrick Moynihan opined that “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts,” American actress Fannie Flagg asks; “Are you a politician or does lying just run in your family?”

With the unfolding of matters, Kenyans have no option but to agree with playwright and novelist Mehmet Murat Ildan when he said, “The politicians of your country will always try to encircle you with the high walls of lies! You must know that the truth is beyond the walls and without meeting the truth you cannot meet the freedom!” That is our current predicament.

Deep state

While elections are still months away, Ruto is already harping about plans to rig him out, but exudes confidence that he cannot be rigged out because “Deep state is just an illusion and that citizens have the votes to decide”. On the face of it, this looks like an innocent declaration.

However, it is cleverly delivered in a way that creates the impression the State wants to impose a leader on the people, and that leader must be resisted by the masses.

In black and white, such statements could be a recipe for chaos if the election results, even without manipulation, do not favour Ruto. In Pearls of Eternity, Bangambiki Habyarimana warns, “Beware of “don’ts”, “thou shalt” and the like. These are signals of programming attempts at your brain.”

The dynasty-versus-hustler nation narrative is adroitly crafted to incite the poor against the rich.

While Ruto is at ease telling the masses about the businesses his competitors are involved in, yet are mean enough not to share their profits with the poor as he, Ruto, does on his meet-the-people tours, he deliberately does not mention his line, or string of business that bring in enough money to make him the greatest philanthropist of all time in Kenya’s history.

At a rally in Kakamega recently, Rashid Echesa rightly pointed out that what the people of Western Kenya, and indeed the whole country want is to be lifted out of poverty, not be given ‘spokespersons’.

In the same vein, Kenyans want to know how either Ruto, Raila or Mudavadi will improve their living standards, not who owns which business because that only increases hatred and chances of violence.

Presidential candidates owe us the truth, nothing else. They should stop telling the people what they believe the people want to hear and tackle issues of high cost of living, disparities in education, an ailing health sector in the grips of cartels and chaotic public transport and housing sectors that enrich only a handful.

 Mr Chagema is a sub-editor at The Standard. [email protected]