MWAMISI: Ruto must put economic team on firing line to get results

The people will begin to dislike Ruto’s rule if the government fails to effectively explain Finance Bill.

In Summary
  • If President Ruto is able to push through the Finance Bill into law, that will be a cracking win politically.
  • The downside of this win will be a possible backlash denting his popularity across the country.
President William Ruto.
DEVELOPMENT AGENDA: President William Ruto.
Image: FILE

It is fair to say, that Kenya Kwanza and Azimio coalitions will seize the hard economic times to outdo one another in popularity in a country perennially in campaign mode.

Azimio, particularly, is trying to trigger a Kenya Kwanza movement towards the south of the situation and see what opportunities might emerge for them. Each of the two coalitions will try to dominate all political proceedings and discourse.

For a bigger part of the runner up to the last elections, President Ruto –then deputy president- set the agenda as he stepped up to the plate and took good advantage of the negative energy he was getting from the incumbency and the opposition.

This should give the ruling coalition some gusto knowing that any situation can be turned around by a powerful and credible communication to the masses.

There is no doubt that pressure has been building from Kenyans towards the current administration, both ‘organic’ and induced. On one hand, the people have felt the unbridled heat from the hard economic times, but Azimio and other agents have also cranked up the temperature on Kenya Kwanza who are now squarely responsible being in power and thus find it tart impossible to blame anyone else for the difficulty.

Calming down the people cannot not bring out a brilliant best from Ruto and his think tank. The President and his finger-pointing deputy have been waxing lyrical about the sound decisions the government is taking to not only arrest the decline, but also to put Kenya on a sound strategic platform towards lasting stability. Similarly, the opposition led by Raila and Kalonzo has pushed back by attempts to posit a realisation that the government is light years off track.

If President Ruto is able to push through the Finance Bill into law, that will be a cracking win politically. The downside of this win will be a possible backlash denting his popularity across the country. A hypocritical opposition, who actually had a similar housing plan in their manifesto, appears to be lacking mojo in spinning the bill dynamics. When the Finance bill sails through, Azimio will be proven a weakling.

So far, the Bill is Ruto’s greatest test since he took power. The demos called by Azimio have been docile probably because the general populace have increasingly become apathetic to political melee considering the cost that has brought the country in recent history, but also because the players in the political system have been more or less the same ones for decades now. Kenyans are able to determine that chaos only benefit politicians, or leave them unmoved as commoners have suffered the brunt.

Currently, the Kenya Kwanza have the bragging rights being in government with the 85 per cent cake to share. As political scientist David Easton rightly averred, politics is about the allocation of resources and values, and so Azimio will continually lose politicians to Kenya Kwanza.

Majority of governors in Azimio have given Raila’s recent populist activity a wide berth with Isiolo governor the latest cog to jump ship. Of course the national government controls 85 per cent of all revenue and can be instrumental in the success of governors where they give a shot in the arm.

Azimio does not have much to offer legislators who have their perks from the Parliamentary Service Commission rather than party. There are massive government opportunities for tenderpreneurs who are mostly politicians and their associates.

Very few, if none, Azimio politicians who will not attempt to do business with the government owing to political affiliation just to be lauded by Raila and Kalonzo. This area is grey and presents a monumental challenge for the opposition.

One area Azimio struggles with is tempo sustaining because, many a time, their stand out politician Raila reneges on his strategies and kills them. It is an open secret that the ultimate goal of any politician, even Raila, is to benefit from power. History claws away from Raila much credibility because the only president has not had political run-ins with is Jomo Kenyatta, probably because he had not entered the political fray during that era.

Raila, who considers himself a social democrat, long lost his communication crispness over the years, albeit he still remains popular. Kenyans are unable to figure if his initiatives are meant for their good or are private agenda, which derails his galvanising dimension denying his drives any new dynamic. This is probably why, despite the harsh times, Kenyans have been hesitant to latch onto his calls to manifest significant defiance.

There is however danger for the current administration as the days go by. There is no doubt that President Ruto, desires to fix the economy in real terms. He should come in for a fair bit of praise for taking the bull by its horns.

A renowned worker, if he is to perform at his standards, he will move the mountain in front of him. Nevertheless, the president must set goals for the core teams seized with developing and implementing economic policy.

The President must give them ultimatums and demand short and long terms goals. If their ideas are concrete, based on proven theories, then they must work. Kenyans want feel change and the president is increasingly being confronted with antipathy. Promises give much needed hope to the populace, but delivery of at least a substantive promise will calm down people. Lowering the cost of living should be Numero Uno on the list for these teams.

A downside is that Kenyans do not want to pay tax, leave alone to have more added to the spectrum. This is why the Finance Bill debate is akin to a referendum battle for Kenyans minds. If the ruling coalition does not communicate effectively to show the benefits of a faithful tax-paying culture, the people will begin to dislike Ruto’s rule. Unlike actual referendums in Kenya which were mostly ethno-politicised, all Kenyans are feeling the fiscal heat.

Kenyans seem to have no bright days to look up to. There is no projection coming from the government on how many years it is going to take to stabilise the economy even though Musalia Mudavadi said two to three years.

In a largely civically enlightened country, the people want explanatory information about Ruto’s economic blueprint -strategic. Effective communication is of same weight as the provision of solutions. The people crave hope, long to see a picture of the future. Ruto’s vision needs better articulation.

The DP Rigathi Gachagua is giving a brainstorming display as the main protagonist of why Kenyans must pay tax. This is the correct gospel, but all need to be packaged better to leverage believability.

One can anticipate that the next opinion polls will show a waning UDA popularity. There needs to be a behaviour change communication front enlightening Kenyans more on why paying tax is important, a message that even the opposition should project.

Kenya Kwanza must prevent Raila’s rebranding to present himself as a saviour of the people, because at this time his brand could skyrocket if the government doesn’t give hope.

The many viral videos ostensibly of ordinary citizens questioning the commitment to promises amidst difficult times are not by chance but rather by design. They are meant to now present Ruto as an elite politician detached from the people.

Kenya Kwanza’s economic advisers should regularly have their day with the press and answer tough questions, and leave no question marks. The country needs solutions and they said they were up to task, and being the manager, Ruto must hold them to account.

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