Demystifying Ruto's 'us hustlers' vs 'them dynasties'

A reformer is needed in the current, and perhaps future, chaos and confusion

In Summary

• In the run-up to the 1992 elections, Ruto he was working with two others in the infamous KANU4Youth ’92.

• Working closely with the two, Moi’s ear was always available to Ruto

Deputy President William Ruto rides on wheelbarrow at his Karen residence on September 28, 2020
Deputy President William Ruto rides on wheelbarrow at his Karen residence on September 28, 2020
Image: DPPS

Kenya’s politics, since independence, have been largely about who has access to the Presidency.

That once someone ascends to this Office, then the largesse of the state — the national cake — could easily come their way, through formal or informal channels, legal or illegal means, and to access material or immaterial resources, influence and power.

This explains why in all general elections since 1992, other than in 2002, Kenya has always been at the cusp of destruction. Since 1992 none of presidential aspirants list has had such access to the Presidency than Deputy President William Ruto as we head to 2022.


The former constitution was largely ‘semi-presidential’ and ‘semi-parliamentary’ where the President also belonged to Parliament – as head of state and head of government. Today, the President sticks to the Executive and serves both roles.

As a running mate in 2013 and 2017 Ruto cannot and should not disassociate himself from what Jubilee government and the presidency has achieved or not achieved.

As recently put in the Sunday Nation of October 18, 2020: “…the drafters of the Constitution created a structure where the President and the Deputy President are joined at the hip; they are elected as a package and leave office together.”

Simply, Uhuru is not his ‘boss’, but ‘teammate’. When they get praise, it is both as when they get blame. Unprecedented in Kenya’s history, between October 6-8, 2014, Ruto served as the country’s acting President, as Uhuru left for the ICC case at The Hague. 


Ruto has been all over. In the positions shown below, he could and should have done something influential for ‘us hustlers’ narrative he is now campaigning on. He has been in Kanu, ODM, URP and Jubilee Party. In all these, he has held very senior positions, not mingling with ‘us hustlers’, but ‘them dynasties’.

In the run-up to the 1992 elections, Ruto he was working with two others in the infamous KANU4Youth ’92. Working closely with the two, Moi’s ear was always available to Ruto, and with that connection, they dished out lots of money in Sh500 note denomination; later christened ‘Jirongo’, a name of one of its leaders. Ruto just dished out notes as he is today dishing out money and wheelbarrows in the name of ‘us hustlers’, unsustainable and ridiculous as it is.


After winning the Eldoret North constituency in the 1997 General Election, Ruto was rewarded with an Assistant minister post in the Office of the President in 1998. He was later promoted be the Minister for Home Affairs between August and December 2002. He should have done policy and strategic interventions for ‘us hustlers’ in these two positions, handed to him by ‘them dynasties’.

After the 2002 election, which Narc won, Ruto resurfaced several times sitting in various Parliamentary Committees heading constitutional reforms, including chairing the ‘Naivasha Accord’, while in the opposition.  But in 2005 things changed dramatically. During the November 2005 referendum, Ruto joined the Orange brigade to oppose the ‘Kilifi Draft’ that was being supported by President Mwai Kibaki.

In the Orange camp — latter ODM — were ‘them dynasties’ of Uhuru and Raila, against not-so-known sons of peasants (led by Kibaki) with the perforated Narc. By the time the 2007 General Election approached, Ruto sought the presidency but was trounced in the party primaries by ‘them dynasties’,  Raila.


After the 2008 truce between Raila and Kibaki, Ruto was awarded with the Ministry of Agriculture and later on the Ministry of Higher Education under the Grand Coalition Government. 

Electoral justice for ‘us Hustlers’ was not achieved at all. Only positions at the top. So when Ruto vilifies the BBI is about sharing power at the top, and not about ‘us hustlers’ but ‘them dynasties’, he has all the requisite knowledge, qualifications and experience on the subject.

Criminal justice for the dead, injured and the displaced following the 2007-08 mayhem was not achieved either. Of the six suspected by the ICC, only three were taken through the trials, which were unfortunately abandoned for lack of sufficient information, intimidation and bribery of witnesses among others.

On April 16,  2016, the ‘us hustlers’ Ruto and ‘them dynasties’ Uhuru ‘danced on the graves’ in the Afraha Stadium, Nakuru, claiming victory against the ICC – not even conscious or perturbed that the same Stadium was home to thousands upon thousands of displaced persons for over eight months. It was a sad day for criminal justice.

It is only in one instance that Ruto did not escape justice. After the 2007-08 violence in the Rift Valley, Ruto was accused of evicting farm workers in a 10- acre farm. The ‘us hustlers’ were forced to flee. Upon fleeing, Ruto through scheming took over the land. The owner went to court in 2010.

But on June 27, 2013, Justice Rose Ougo ordered Ruto to vacate the farm and pay compensation of Sh5 Million to the rightful owner, Adrian Muteshi, 70.


Throughout Ruto’s stints in various governments, there has been economic ruin. When Kanu was leaving power in 2002, Kenya’s GDP growth stood at 0.5 per cent. Kibaki led to the improvement of GDP to three per cent in 2003 and up to seven percent in 2007. Then the 2007-08 pogroms happened. All was lost. Worse still, no one was taken to account for the losses of lives and properties – both locally and at The Hague.

As Uhuru-Ruto came to power, the economy was thriving again, thanks to Kibaki. As of today, the lack of economic growth should not be blamed on Covid-19. Jubilee government’s overzealous borrowing, conspicuous corruption within its ranks, and way-ward management of the economy are the major factors. 

As Kenya prepares for 2022, it needs ‘another Kibaki’, which does not mean that he stands absolved but he did pretty well compared to those before him and after him. We do not need ‘us hustlers’ or ‘them dynasties’. Both could be accused any time of ruining the economy. First, in either group are those who have evaded or avoided taxes, or involved racketeering and tenderpreneurship. 

Second, both are populated by people accused of corruption and are facing criminal prosecution in court from the national to the county levels. We do not need to choose between either: This is not an either or question.

The current presidency — Uhuru and Ruto  — has admitted boldly that corruption thrives even within its offices. Such an admittance is just what you need to confirm that whether it is ‘us hustlers’ or ‘them dynasties’, it does not matter.

By the time the Jubilee Government leaves office, Kenya will not just have gone through a serious economic recession, but will end up with an outright depression. This has been confirmed by top economists all over the country, the region and internationally.

Any person seeking to replace the Jubilee government should have serious reforms’ credentials beyond these narratives of hustlers and dynasties. We seriously need a ‘Proverbial Messiah’ to lift this country from its current malaise. Indeed, no sober person would ever or even think about running for the presidency. For Ruto to allege that he lifted himself from Sambut village, in Kamagut, to where he is now through sheer hard work, is outright hogwash.

Recently, in one of his Tangatanga meetings, an MP stated that the hustlers-dynasties debate is not about the rich or the poor in Kenya, but about those who want to ‘invest versus those who feel entitled’. What could be deduced here is that the latter means ‘them dynasties’ and the former means the ‘us hustlers’. What outlandish rubbish!

A celebrated Canadian musician sang a song titled ‘Call The Man’. That song is very inspiring to this treatise and to paraphrase within what is going on right now in Kenya, we need to Call The Reformer here urgently. We need a reformer who could first begin by shutting the Kenyan political doors so as to lock-out and/or lock-down those pretenders to the presidency.  Looking out there in the horizons, many countries are achieving their dreams, but in Kenya, we are living like wind-blown refugees in our own country.

Call The Reformer who deals with countries beyond repair, as ours is and definitely will be worse by the end of the Jubilee government, Call The Reformer who can help heal this country off the troubled hearts and minds that are in need of care. Call The Reformer who can shine a light ahead, since our next steps seem unclear; that Reformer is needed here immediately.

The reformer is needed in the current, and perhaps future, chaos and confusion, both out there in the counties and also in Nairobi, including State House. Call The Reformer since he is needed where those pretenders to The Presidency are walking the wire, but are definitely set to fall. Call The Reformer Presidency. That is, the ‘Proverbial Messiah’ of an alternative leader is needed here.

The term hustler means a person who is a fraudster, thief, swindler, and all manner of horrible characters. Using this definition, Ruto should not ascend to the presidency by all means possible under the sun, the moon and the truth.

The hustler-dynasty battle being waged is not just fake, but delusional. His personal ambition, is ill thought-out, and it will disappear as soon it appears, ahead of those upcoming polls to replace the Jubilee government. Period. God Bless Kenya!

Tom Kagwe JP is a political scientist and a human rights researcher. The views presented  here are his, are unsolicited and/or unpaid for by any political party, movement or organisation

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