To state that Deputy President William Ruto is a man under siege would be an under-statement. He is a man under vicious rapid fire from multiple quarters. In some instances he appears to be under friendly fire. The problem with friendly fire is that in some instances it’s been known to maim and even kill.
We can only presume that some very powerful forces are out to stop the Deputy President’s march to State House in its tracks. His lieutenants have constantly blamed ODM and Opposition leader Raila Odinga for his woes, but there is no cogent evidence to confirm that position. Indeed, many doubt whether Raila has the capacity to launch such a multi-faceted campaign against Ruto and his allies.
A recent Ipsos research opinion poll indicated people perceive Ruto to be the most corrupt individual in the Republic of Kenya, followed closely by Kirinyaga governor Anne Waiguru. There have been murmurs in the past about his being involved in transactions not above the table but this is the most brazen thus far.
A week ago the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) director general Captain Gilbert Kibe, a bosom buddy and long-time associate of President Uhuru Kenyatta, declared that the Weston Hotel (associated with Ruto) is built on KCAA land and KCAA has applied for the title deed to be revoked by the National Land Commission.
Before the ink on the Weston Hotel saga had dried there was a further report regarding the construction of Dolphin Hotel in Shanzu, Mombasa county (also associated with Weston Hotel), which had encroached on a public beach. Journalists who had visited the hotel earlier were assaulted and the matter is currently under police investigation. One would be forgiven for thinking or imagining that some powerful forces are out to dismantle Ruto’s economic base.
Ruto in the meantime has issued notice to his unnamed competitors that he will not be distracted from his presidential ambitions, despite the increased efforts to bring him down through smear campaigns.
“The constant, perennial and unending headlines about William Ruto this, William Ruto that, opinion polls this, corruption the other, [are] sponsored by our competitors because they cannot match our development record.” He went a stage further and invoked the name of God, “Those running ‘injili ya shetani (the devil’s gospel)’ that unless your father was a minister, a vice president or president, however hard you work, you must remain poor and if not, you must be corrupt and have stolen, they should know that those without godfathers have God the Father.”
Invoking the name of God and staring down his competitors is one thing and debunking or demystifying the allegations is another. He can either submit himself to a lifestyle audit and acquit himself or learn some valuable lessons from past politicians like the great communicator former US President Ronald Reagan. Reagan was proficient in not letting allegations stick. So proficient was he that they named him the Teflon President because criticism and blame never seemed to stick to him.
Regardless of whatever went wrong during his presidency, and there was plenty that went wrong, including the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, the Iran-Contra scandal and much more, none seemed to stick to him. When he left office in 1989, he held an approval rating of 68 per cent matching those of Franklyn D. Roosevelt and later Bill Clinton, as the highest ratings for departing presidents in modern times.
If the allegations against Ruto stick, they would pose an obstacle to his ascendancy to the presidency. President Kenyatta has launched the first serious assault on corruption in the history of independent Kenya.
If he stays the course, then the fabric of Kenya will undergo a paradigm shift with zero tolerance for corruption. There will be no going back and as a consequence corrupt leaders will not be tolerated. Are we about to encounter a non-stick Teflon Ruto?