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AIMING TOO HIGH

Matiang’i task is to help finish Ruto, not run for president

Those who know him know fully well this is a task he’s most unsuited for.

In Summary

• He has yet to prove his chops on that score, but the odds are he will not.

• The Interior CS is in a classic unenviable position

Interior CS Fred Matiang'i and other senior government officials address the press at the dusitD2 hotel on 14 Riverside after the terrorists were neutralised ending a two-day siege, on January 16.
SUPER MINISTER: Interior CS Fred Matiang'i and other senior government officials address the press at the dusitD2 hotel on 14 Riverside after the terrorists were neutralised ending a two-day siege, on January 16.
Image: JACK OWUOR

In an old episode of a British comedy Are You Being Served? a character James Lucas inquires of another character Mr Humphries the meaning of yet another character, Mr Grainger’s, actions. Humphries responds stating Grainger’s intentions are to have Lucas sacked, but he’s too humble to sack him so Grainger will instead have his boss sack Lucas.

There are two types of bosses in the workplace: Those who would sack you without batting an eye whether or not there’s a valid reason, and those who would agonise and do everything they could to avoid having to sack you, even when there’s reason to do so.

The former are the cold-blooded type for whom nothing matters other than their own preservation and, to a lesser extent, the company. The latter are the humble type for whom loyalty and friendship colour their decision-making so they can’t fire you no matter how much you deserve to go, the Grainger type.

President Uhuru Kenyatta is our Grainger; he’s too humble to sack Deputy President William Ruto; yes, the Constitution protects the Deputy President from sacking at the whim of the President but take it to the bank, a president can effectively sack the deputy.

He can do this in a number of ways, starting from the stealthy and that’s making the deputy president’s life so miserable in office he would have no choice but to resign. On the other end of that spectrum, the president can have the deputy charged for any number of crimes, committed or otherwise, and this, in effect, will set the stage for removal from office on constitutional grounds. Several other possibilities exist in between, but let’s leave that for State House to ponder.

It’s not necessary to go into any detail why the idea of a presidential run by Matiang’i is a joke other than to say he is in his position, not because he is presidential material, but because someone thought he could be ideal in helping bring down Ruto.

When the President delegated Cabinet oversight powers to Interior CS Fred Matiang’i in an Executive Order that handed a CS an unprecedented expansive responsibility to chair and coordinate government development programmes and projects, many saw this as means to significantly clip Ruto’s power, if not to politically neuter him. This comes o the heels of kamata Fridays, that the stage was being set to arrest and charge Ruto with economic crimes.

Those who know Matiang’i know fully well this is a task he’s most unsuited for. Yet, as CS for Interior, if Ruto is to be finished politically, Matiang’i must not only be the public face of the execution, he would have to oversee the plan as part of his expanded mandate as “super-minister,” a thankless endeavour when one considers the fall-out.

In other words, Matiang’i is in a classic unenviable position; he either becomes a conduit to politically finish Ruto and enjoy no meaningful reward past the Uhuru administration  — certainly nothing of the level and stature he has now — if he’s successful, or the effort fails and he becomes a marked man, moreso in the event Ruto becomes president.

That being the case, talk of Matiang’i becoming a presidential candidate for 2022 can only come from people who are not serious. It’s not necessary to go into any detail why the idea of a presidential run by Matiang’i is a joke other than to say he is in his position, not because he is presidential material, but because someone thought he could be ideal in helping bring down Ruto.

He has yet to prove his chops on that score, but the odds are he will not. Bringing down or stopping Ruto from becoming our next president will have to take someone more mercurial, more streetwise and uniquely adept in the art of politically finishing people and that person isn’t Matiang’i, nor is it Uhuru.

Fortunately, for those who would relish such an outcome, the person is someone known to Uhuru and probably has already told him exactly how, so let’s sit back and watch.

Legal analyst and political commentator