Ruto's many blunders that make his political nemesis look good

President William Ruto and Opposition leader Raila Odinga. [Standard]

Times and fortunes are changing for Kenya’s three prominent political players who from 2002 have dominated happenings in Kenya. They are Uhuru Kenyatta, Raila Odinga, and William Ruto and they collectively treat Kenya as an experimental laboratory. Ruto declares he is a scientist, having obtained a University of Nairobi doctorate in plant ecology while serving as deputy president to Uhuru, and leads the way in experimenting.

The trio crave for adulation so much that they are vulnerable to extra-continental persuasion. They were active in the 2022 election in which Ruto beat Uhuru and Raila. Since then, political prospects have swung like a pendulum from one side to the other. The pendulum is swinging against Ruto.

They were together as Daniel arap Moi’s disciples before turning on one another, ganging up in Kanu against Mwai Kibaki’s NAK. When Moi anointed Uhuru in 2002, Raila jumped to Kibaki’s winning coalition; Uhuru and Ruto stuck together as political dot.coms. The trio were again together in the Raila-led 2005 Banana/Orange referendum.

They split in 2007 when Uhuru joined Kibaki while Ruto and Raila created an anti-Kibaki 41 against one Euro-supported Pentagon. Although Kibaki survived the onslaught, the country was in a mess and Raila became prime minister, sharing power with Kibaki. Uhuru and Ruto, however, reunited at The Hague, leaving Raila free to canvass for the presidency, under the Raila-induced 2010 Constitution, in 2012. Despite the West threatening ‘consequences’ if Kenyans made wrong ‘choices’, voters chose UhuRuto in 2013 which left Raila politically hanging.

Raila, a genius in politically reinventing himself, once again did it. He likes and enjoys making history but he has problems applying its lessons. After the 1997 election, he in 1998 cut the 'koperesen' deal with Moi and he became minister and Kanu secretary general. When Moi disappointed him in 2002, he switched to the Kibaki camp and emerged as a decisive political force enough to destabilise Kibaki repeatedly.

After losing to Uhuru three times, he made the country so ungovernable that Uhuru played Raila’s political ball game which angered Deputy President Ruto who became odd in the trio. The Uhu-Raila loss to Ruto was devastating only for Ruto’s presidential blunders to redeem them.  

After losing in 2022, Raila turned to his post-election trademark of making the country ungovernable and, holding the country hostage, he attracted attention. Although the available evidence contradicted his claim, he insisted that he won. His team had made costly mistakes which included failing to have or pay polling agents, ignoring advice and danger signs, and assuming Raila had already won before voting.

In addition, a mysterious ‘whistle blower’ made Raila look ridiculous, claiming he had new data that showed Raila won big. Still, Raila’s ability to create ungovernability forced Ruto to shake hands in Mombasa and to create a committee to cater for Kalonzo Musyoka’s and Rigathi Gachagua’s concerns.

Ruto's blunders boost Raila. Despising history, he exposes the inability to contextualise issues, whether domestic or international. He reportedly micro-manages everything, is deaf to advice, stuffs the government with cronies and then complains about their incompetence. Some of those incompetents, however, get quick riches and waste resources amid collapsing institutions, dilapidated educational structures, rising cost of living, suffocating wealth producers, and shrinking middle class.

At the international level, Ruto seeks adulation; the Conceptual West knows how to dish out praises. US President Joe Biden, for instance, applauded him at the United Nations for agreeing to send Kenyan police officers to Haiti. When the Conceptual West is closing its ‘garden’, Ruto opens Kenyan borders without demanding reciprocity.

Ruto, obsessed with experimenting on Kenyans as a ‘scientist’ and in controlling everything, has lost credibility. Initial adulation is dwindling everywhere. His governing discrepancies, in policy formulation and application, make Raila look good. As cronies surround him, there is doubt whether he knows he is losing.

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