Ruto, Raila 'Saul to Paul' moment coming

When President William Ruto had a conversation with Raila Odinga after a meeting with IEBC before the 2022 General Election. [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

Bad habits are weighing Kenya down before our very eyes. The political leadership is stroking the fire and has no qualms.

In a country prone to costly tension every poll cycle, it is disheartening that foul mouths and pride are fast impairing our efforts to build the ship as we sail.

Call them political logrollers, many leaders have chained themselves to cheap talk - an affirmation that bad habits can be innate. In fact, one evolution theory talks of this reality.

Even as the standoff between William Ruto and Raila Odinga continues, hate speech in various circles and its heavy political costs must worry us. In my view, reckless talk is now being institutionalised. Populism is growing and divisions spreading. Listening to Azimio and Kenya Kwanza politicians speak, I have reason to believe that in the end, none will be willing to live by the consequence of their noxious tongues. Even without unanimity on how to deal with their reckless speeches and the subtle aspects, it's a threat that must be fought and crushed.

The attack on the Kenyatta and Odinga property on Monday came after 'predictions' by known vociferous politicians. A Cabinet Secretary gave clear hints online hours to the raid. Such have showcased how quickly we are racing into political doom. Disappointingly, some top officials refuse to acknowledge the responsibility that comes with high office. They denigrate fellow Kenyans and engage in a verbal diarrhoea that disgraces them and makes the Ruto-led executive a laughing stock. Opposition high ranks too have sharp tongues that smudge damage at the turn of every corner.

On Tuesday, National Cohesion and Integration Commission boss Samuel Kobia said they were analysing speeches of politicians, and will be flagging out inflammatory ones then take action. But this will just be another box-ticking affair.

Is democracy our new bane? With the ongoing violent demos and police brutality, we've taken a sure path to ruin, especially now that the government resorts to surreptitious methods to tackle the opposition wave, including harming journalists.

Violence should not be part of peaceful demonstrations. Similarly blocking demos and destroying private property isn't the intent of our Constitution. The police power we saw on Monday and Thursday can be put to better use in flashing out bandits in the North Rift.

Winston Churchill said the price of greatness is responsibility. But what do you do when the president and the opposition leader fail to dialogue and prove their statesmanship yet they have the ethical and moral sense of right and wrong?

Don't be mistaken. It isn't that Ruto and Raila don't know that it is wrong to put the country on tenterhooks at this time of economic pain. From their edifices, it is clear that they don't appreciate the obvious fact that a hungry and hurting nation least needs political instability let alone unfulfilled lofty promises.

The leaders have caused occurrences that have no compelling social, economic and political value at all in the last two weeks - only causing disaffection and leaving death and destruction in their wake. Their 'Saul to Paul' moment will soon come. It is inevitable.

Ruto should remember Plato's words that "the beginning is the most important part of the work." He is wrong in the ways that reflect in his belief that he has no obligation whatsoever to listen to anyone except his allies whose interests are primed on benefits of power.

The warring leaders must now open up channels of communication to allow respectful and unconditional interaction. In our interest, some degree of trust between them is need. They should face reality.

For a government that claims to be in power because of prayers, the answer lies in the book of Mark 8 Chapter 35 on gaining the world but losing one's soul.

The writer is an editor at The Standard. Twitter: @markoloo