POLITICAL INDISCIPLINE

BBI is Uhuru's project, Ruto must shape up or ship out

DP's behaviour is not a good show for national cohesion and political maturity.

In Summary

• Ruto has insisted that BBI is hinged on the premise of creating positions for perennial presidential election losers.

• If he thought the BBI reggae was Raila’s music, then here was his boss at Bomas  telling him it is a government patriotic song 

Deputy President William Ruto speaks during the launch of BBI Report at Bomas of Kenya on October 26, 2020
Deputy President William Ruto speaks during the launch of BBI Report at Bomas of Kenya on October 26, 2020
Image: ANDREW KASUKU

The current political system is presidential and the state and executive functions are fused into one office.

The Executive is further not a coalition government but a unit. It, therefore, behoves anybody in the Cabinet to obey the President and demonstrate high fidelity to the government agenda.

All Cabinet members swear allegiance to the President as they do to the republic and the Constitution. It has, therefore, been baffling that some members of the Executive have openly contradicted him.

 

More profoundly disturbing has been Deputy President William Ruto’s flagrant defiance to President Kenyatta's directives on government policy in the second term of Jubilee administration.

Uhuru’s reaching out to ODM leader Raila Odinga was such anathema to Ruto that he has all but disregarded the protocols around their relationship.

The events at the Gusii Stadium during this week’s Mashujaa Day celebration served to illustrate the sour state of UhuRuto relationship. It also exposed the Deputy President as impatient and quick to anger.

Out of character of the high calling of his office, he chose to respond to Raila’s speech, while his duty was to invite the President. At the very least he would have restricted his remarks to the theme of the day — celebrating national heroes.

For all intents and purposes, Raila was a guest of the President. As the principal assistant to the host, Ruto owed courtesy to his guests. He repeated the drama at Bomas of Kenya during the launch of the BBI report.

Like Mark Antony, he masterfully used Cicero’s rhetoric to deconstruct key BBI proposals.

The delegates watched in disbelief as the Number Two skilfully negated the report

. His conclusion that the report belonged to the trash bin was left to the gallery. He is good with words and confident with any crowd: The Joseph Goebbels of our time.

On the other hand, Uhuru chose the Kisii event to give one of his most eloquent and content-driven speeches in recent times. It was laden with well-researched anecdotes and poignant messages that resonated with the theme of the occasion.

The President demonstrated a fairly high understanding of the country’s long history. He masterfully used it to justify his resolve to have the Constitution reviewed. He was a little fatherly at Bomas.

 

Speaking with the authority of the head of state, he chided the critics of the law change for analysing his agenda from a parochial perspective. Chief among the critics has been his deputy.

Ruto has insisted that BBI is hinged on the premise of creating positions for perennial presidential election losers.

If he thought the BBI reggae was Raila’s music, then here was his boss telling him that it is a government patriotic song from the lofty perch of a presidential address.

It was the clearest message that the BBI process must be concluded under the stewardship of the President.

He even went to lengths to explain that all in government, including Ruto, were properly briefed on the project’s inception.

While it is clear that Ruto has intentions of opposing the process, it is untoward for him to oppose the President’s agenda from the Office of the President. It borders on insubordination to contradict your boss in public.

HUDUMA NAMBA

Ruto’s brigade has also criticised the next round of Huduma Namba registration. They claim it is not transparent and meant to rig the next elections. They have vowed to oppose the exercise.

They have gone further to declare that they will mobilise Kenyans in their strongholds to ignore the call to register. The Huduma Namba enumeration is a government programme launched last year.

It will be recalled that at its inception, the DP was among the national leaders to spearhead the exercise. However, this was before the Executive Order No. 1 that elevated Interior CS Fred Matiang'i to a "super minister" level.

Matiang'i gained immense powers in the Cabinet, rising above the Deputy President.

Since registration is a function under Matiangi’s primary ministry of Interior, Ruto has a bone to grind. It is in this context that his supporters’ opposition is to be understood.

The President, however, affirmed his faith in Matiang'i during the Mashujaa Day fete. After the presidential address, the military band was ready to play the national anthem.

This was not to be as Matiang'i took to the podium ostensibly to sort out some small matter. He requested the President to allow  Attorney General Kihara Kariuki to hand over the ready Huduma cards to him and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta.

After this, Uhuru issued additional 10 cards to selected individuals at the VIP dais. Ruto watched in disbelief as he was not on the list.

The message was clear. The Huduma Namba registration is a government programme and the President has faith in Matiang'i.

Government collective responsibility demands that one expresses reservation in private at a meeting but binds to the overall decisions taken.

Political decency requires that where one strongly feels aggrieved by the government position, then they take leave from office by vacating. This is what senior government officials have done in other jurisdictions.

When Mwalimu Julius Nyerere pushed through the Ujamaa programme and had it promulgated at the Arusha Declaration of 1966, Oscar Kambona resigned.  Kambona had been a long-standing government ideologue and personal friend to Nyerere.

However, his capitalist thinking could not allow him to support a socialist economic policy direction. Having lost to his boss in the debate, he maintained his views strongly but opted not to sabotage the government agenda while serving it.

Closer home, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga did the same. He had chosen the populist path of free land redistribution against the government resettlement scheme sponsored by the departing British colonial government.

In South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa opted to join the private sector when he disagreed with President Thabo Mbeki’s Africanisation programme. He considered it skewed to further entrench white dominance.

Ruto's behaviour is not a good show for national cohesion and political maturity. Democracy anticipates differences in opinion among leaders.

They have a responsibility to conduct government business with decorum. They owe the public a sense of duty to good public behaviour.

Equally, the President has a duty to demand discipline and respect from his Cabinet. His tolerating conduct unbecoming from his deputy is a threat to government unity and national stability.

The country has bestowed upon him the responsibility to bear the vision of the nation. It is expected that many will not agree with his direction of the national vision.

Those who disagree should be allowed to oppose but not as part of his team. Time is therefore nigh that Ruto diligently and loudly supports Uhuru and in the alternative, be brave to resign and oppose from the outside.

It is political bad manners to use public resources to curtail government development activities.

Kanyadudi is a political and public policy analyst