William Ruto should not stifle dissenters through the 'hug'

 President-elect William Ruto's lawyer filed a response to the presidential petition at Supreme Court in Nairobi on  August 26, 2022.  [ David Gichuru, Standard]

The first political act by President-elect William Ruto after he was declared the winner, was the assimilation of the MPs-elect into his Kenya Kwanza Alliance.

He has continued to swallow independent MPs and raid political parties which had struck legal deals with his competitors. When one dangles the carrot of promissory favours to the opposition even before taking oath of office, that becomes a red flag.

Over the last few years, Dr Ruto has been lamenting and castigating the media for allegations of unfair coverage. His lieutenants have fired demeaning insults and thinly veiled threats to individual journalists and media houses who they think are not friendly to the hustler narrative.

Your guess as to what one with a bone to chew with media can do once in power, is as good as mine. When the media is silenced, a critical voice is suffocated, just the same way leasing the opposition in government quarters cripples alternative voice, thought and action. 

History is replete with politicians who rode to power through popular narratives only for them to morph up into dictators as they spread their tentacles along the contours of power. Winning a democratic election is not enough guarantee that democratic principles, constitutionalism, and rule of law will be upheld full term.

Conducive environment for democratic institutions, enhancement of checks and balances by respecting the doctrine of separation of powers and appreciation of the sanctity of human rights, forms pillars of a progressive democratic culture. 

When you over-promise, it automatically means you will not deliver, and people will be disappointed. As such, one is left with few options. One, crush dissent, two, look for a convenient scapegoat or three, climb to the pulpit of religion and feed the largely ignorant masses with utopian doses of heavenly spiritual buffet.

This is notwithstanding that citizens voted for you so that you can solve their earthly challenges as per the manifesto. When things go south, some politicians have a cunning way of exchanging the manifesto with the Bible. Kenya is a secular state. This means there’s no state religion like the ruling theocracies of say Iran or Saudi Arabia.

Although Christians are the majority, all religions are treated with equal respect as showcased during our national holidays.

Kenyans carry their day-to-day activities with and among one another regardless of diverse religious beliefs.

Religious leaders such as the late John Cardinal Otunga, Ndingi Mwana Nzeki, Timothy Njoya, Khalid Balala and many others have played a cardinal role in liberation of Kenya at various times. 

The church is the salt of our socio-political and moral bearing. It is imperative for citizens to be part of the vanguard forces, for the price of democracy is eternal vigilance. The incoming government must resist the appetite for enlisting opposition, church and the media into the system.

The writer is a lecturer at Multimedia University and a former NCIC commissioner