Why president should rethink his move on 'shareholders'

President William Ruto during the 60th Mashujaa day celebration at Kericho Green Stadium in Kericho county on October 20, 2023. [Standard]

When President William Ruto and Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua triumphed, the Bottom-up Empowerment and Transformation Agenda officially became the development model.

But there was the gigantic agenda of 'rewarding' those who 'contributed' to their victory morally, economically and spiritually. To deal with this legitimate expectation, a special purpose vehicle, christened Kenya Kwanza Shareholders Plc was assembled. The truthful man, the DP, was in charge of it.

Right from the constitution of the Cabinet to the appointment of constitutional office holders, this consideration was the rule. Then came the reality check that happened between the first and the second year after regime change in Kenya.

A little of history. In 1983, then President Daniel Moi after the 1982 coup, filled key government offices with loyalists. In 2003 and 2005, President Mwai Kibaki sacked Moi's and Raila Odinga's allies from the civil service. In the process, he planted the seeds of the 2007/8 post-election violence.

Specifically, Jomo Kenyatta-era power man Charles Njonjo and his lieutenants were either sacked or rigged out of the snap 1983 election. Nicholas Biwott and the Kalenjin mafia emerged and reigned supreme up to the deep end of the Nyayo era in 2002.

Kibaki's triumph in 2002 and his glory years tumbled when he fell out with Raila and Kalonzo Musyoka. The duo were sacked and immediately teamed up with Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto to defeat Kibaki in that year's constitutional referendum.

The shareholder business was a truthful way of dealing with the loyalty and reward system so that a fallout with supporters could be mitigated. It worked well because the public faces of the Ruto political juggernaut have received their pay cheque through appointments to key government positions.

Credit to the President, the Cabinet presents the face of Kenya, by and large.

But the political Ruto has now been replaced by the Executive President, who has the apparatus to know what each of the 40 million-plus Kenyans ate for dinner, if at all.

This truth confronts him every morning. Essentially, he must have realised that unnecessary, populist duels with Kenyans have no value now or in 2027. And since he can't rewind the clock, he has to employ tactics that will make him look morally right.

Hence his directive to disband the 'limited liability company'. But the President has a challenge here. Right from his Cabinet nomination, this principle was the default mode. Will he now revisit the constitution of his Cabinet? By appearing to chide his deputy over the shareholder position, the President is, unconsciously invoking the Uhuru syndrome of 2018 when out of the blues, Uhuru decided to face the lake and groom Raila's treacherous attempt to climb Mt Kenya

Let the shareholder firm remain. But augment it with reason because there are no people called Azimio or Kenya Kwanza. We only have tribal affiliations driven by selfish leaders and sometimes gullible and clueless supporters. 

Mr Charles Mulila is a media practitioner