STAY PUT

Resignation a non-option for Ruto

Constitutional posts of offices occupied by Oginga and Ruto are fundamentally different.

In Summary

• The proposal that Ruto should follow the path paved by Jaramogi and resign is to lend a mark of permanence to the calamitous seeds of betrayal sown during that first term of Kenya’s self-rule.

• Any resignation will be a constant reference that will form the basis for fragmented politics and deepened tribal animosity.

Deputy President William Ruto dances with mama Agnes Nduku during a church service at St. Christopher Catholic Parish - Kyumbi, Maanzoni, Machakos County for a church service on January 19, 2020.
Deputy President William Ruto dances with mama Agnes Nduku during a church service at St. Christopher Catholic Parish - Kyumbi, Maanzoni, Machakos County for a church service on January 19, 2020.
Image: DPPS

The suggestion that the path taken by Kenya’s first vice president, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga in resigning from Jomo Kenyatta’s administration in 1966 provides a precedent that can instruct Deputy President Ruto in resolving the current dilemmas he is perceived to be facing is both problematic and misinformed.

Purveyors of this school of thought are gleeful in proposing that just as the antagonisms and frustrations directed at him led Jaramogi to resign, the same leaf can be borrowed by Ruto given the perceived exacerbation of hostilities meted against him allegedly in the hands of high-level state functionaries.

Without lending any credence to the suggestions that Ruto is experiencing deliberate state engineered roadblocks on the path to the discharge of his responsibilities, the ludicrousness of the proposal that he should resign must be addressed in the context of present realities.

 

First, the proposal that Ruto should follow the path paved by Jaramogi and resign is to lend a mark of permanence to the calamitous seeds of betrayal sown during that first term of Kenya’s self-rule.

That this seed has over the last half a century of contestation between democracy and despotism matured into a deep sense of political distrust responsible for untold sufferings, exclusions, extra-judicial killings and tribal conflicts is not an overstatement.

By cementing the place of betrayal and disrespect for political agreements with another resignation, we will have erected an edifice to distrust that will consolidate the politics of backstabbing and accelerate political dissensus.

Like a milestone on the necks of our political conscience, any resignation will be a constant reference that will form the basis for fragmented politics and deepened tribal animosity.

The dream of a united, stable, indivisible and prosperous state will remain shaky long into the future undermining the very quest of vision 2030.

Second, in 1966 when Oginga resigned, Jomo Kenyatta had effectively dismembered the independence constitution, abolished federal units, neutered the Senate and brought all institutions of government under an imperial presidency.

Jaramogi was a ship unmoored in the face of a tempest.

 

The institutional architecture of the 2010 constitution in contrast-independent judiciary and commissions, robust devolved units and a citizenry empowered by a liberal bill of rights- theoretically provide additional resiliency and suggests the greater likelihood that checks will be exerted at attempts towards the complete evisceration of the objects of governance entrenched in law.

Third, it is important to point out that the constitutional positions of the offices occupied by Oginga and Ruto are fundamentally different.

The Office of Vice president which Jaramogi vacated had been quickly cobbled together under the republican constitution as an appendage of the president who appointed and could dismiss the holder without explanation.

In contrast, the 2010 constitution created the office of the deputy president whose holder is the running mate to the president.

By virtue of this position, the holder is politically a co-owner of the ticket by which the president was elected into office.

The holder is therefore enjoined in the commitments and covenants on which the people were mobilised in support of a presidential bid.

Once such a ticket receives the endorsement of the people, the president and his deputy are constitutionally conjoined and must serve their term unless supervening circumstances come into play.

So crystalised is the office of the deputy president in the 2010 Constitution that article 151 (2) forbids any variation to the privileges accorded to the office in any manner as would disadvantage the holder thereof.

Like a loanee before a banker, President Uhuru Kenyatta's access to Kenyan voters’ vault in 2013 and 2017 was guaranteed by DP Ruto.

Any default on the part of a loanee results in the devolution of responsibility to the guarantor who must make good on any outstanding obligation.

Little wonder, Ruto is the foremost defender of the Jubilee manifesto and Agenda Four- no matter how assaulted these commitments may appear at the present.

For Ruto forswore before the people to support the president in actualising these goals.

He has no choice for any default in attaining these goals is as perilous to the president as it is to him.

To ask that he resigns based on perceived frustration is, therefore, to fail to appreciate the depth of his constitutional obligation to the success of this presidential term.

To abdicate this constitutional and political obligation is disingenuous, reckless and dangerous.