Ruto will ultimately bring down cost of living; let's give him time

President William Ruto during a round table interview with the media at State House Nairobi on December 17, 2023. PCS]

When President Theodore Roosevelt talked about the man in the arena, he possibly had President William Ruto in mind. He observed in part that “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming….

As 2023 comes to a close, we have seen a commander-in-chief who has creatively fought for the vitality of the Kenyan economy and the people of Kenya. In the middle of the 2022 elections, one of the media houses hosted leading economists in the country and sought their opinion on how long it would take for us to turn the corner out of the economic mess the country was mired in.

The consensus of the panel was that the public finance mismanagement was so deep, the global shocks were so strong and the post-covid disruptions were still so entrenched that it would take at least five years of prudent management of the economy for Kenyans to see a turn-around.

The message was further buttressed a few days later when the Azimio candidate and the running mate held a joint presser and maintained that due to global shocks, there was nothing much the then president could do to lower the cost of living. As fate would have it when the new president was sworn in, the cost of living became a convenient scapegoat in the ensuing post-election fallout.

To exacerbate matters, governance with all its practical, unpleasant processes forced the government to raise taxes so as to meet the cost of running government while trying to deliver services to the people. But finally, Kenyans can heave a sigh of relief.

The ambitious fertiliser subsidy saw farmers register a bumper harvest last season which effectively saw the pressure on the flour go down significantly. Coupled with other government interventions, we have seen the clouds of despair that had gathered over our collective national sky steadily ebbing away and the warm rays of hope illuminating from the horizon.

Kenyans must not fall prey to the conventional wisdom that has taken root in democracies in recent years that an incumbent, however diligent and prudent he might be, will not measure up to his predecessor.

We saw it when Kenyans wished Moi came back to run government when Kibaki was in office. We saw it under Uhuru when people said they wished Kibaki was back. Today, some pundits are intimating that Uhuru was the golden standard of the presidency. What a fallacy.

While I know no one can govern guiltlessly, some of the all too obvious miscalculations under President Uhuru were avoidable. The mismanagement of public finance was unnecessary.

To conclude where I started, administration of public affairs is never an instant coffee. There are painful choices that the government has to grapple with every day. We must reject the seduction of naysayers and rally around the President in reconfiguring the second republic.

They have proclaimed that the solution to our economic woes is supply side economics. We will remind them that if it was that easy, we would not witness the deprivation that has left so many at the base of the pyramid while capital is concentrated in the hands of a few.

But Ruto was in Uhuru’s government? Some have asked us.

Now that is classical buck-passing. Like Harry Truman, we must tell them the buck stopped with the President. Just same way president Ruto is responsible for his administration and the President must turn his back to naysayers.

Mr Kidi is the convenor of Inter-parties Youth Forum. [email protected]