CALEB: Unfair to claim Ruto failing when things are still twisted

If the President can introduce a new culture of genuine work, he can awaken citizen responsibility.

In Summary
  • It is only Kenya Kwanza who can be the arbiters of their own failure if they do not deliver to Kenyans what is most needed over this period.
  • Notwithstanding the promises made in the last campaigns, all most Kenyans desire is a lower cost of living.
President William Ruto speaks during an interdenominational prayer church service in Kajiado county on June 25, 2023.
TAXATION: President William Ruto speaks during an interdenominational prayer church service in Kajiado county on June 25, 2023.
Image: PCS

Azimio is back, checking the temperature of Kenyans by calling for demos, after courts issued conservatory orders on the new Financial Law, and the 50 Cabinet Assistant Secretaries President Ruto had appointed similarly ran into legal headwinds. While many a Kenyan would like the government to be modest in its budgeting and spending, and many Kenyans do not wish to pay tax— leave alone to experience any increases in deductions from their earnings — it still must baffle Azimio and Raila that few are psyched-up for demos.

The wheels of commerce in the country are still rolling, despite recent Azimio efforts to grind everything to a halt. Kenyans seem to understand that nobody makes money in a war whether in formal sector employment or private sector. Better still, Kenyans seem to have realised over the years that our politicians are all the same. In fact, one would be misreading the room in any political class engagements in Parliament or elsewhere to decipher that the politicians are enemies despite party affiliations, because they really are not. They quickly draw together when their interests align.

It is only Kenya Kwanza who can be the arbiters of their own failure if they do not deliver to Kenyans what is most needed over this period. Notwithstanding the promises made in the last campaigns, all most Kenyans desire is a lower cost of living. Despite the prevailing conditions locally and internationally that have caused this vexing situation for Kenyans, it is possible to improve Kenyans' perception of the government by putting a lid on corruption, for instance, even though it is not possible to plug every hole. Ruto has the pen now, yet time runs out fast.

It had appeared that Raila and Ruto had buried the hatchet when they appeared together to watch Omanyalla and company racing at MISC Kasarani over a month ago. However, Azimio would later abandon the bipartisan talks after the Finance Act sailed through Parliament and received Ruto’s assent. Predictably, Azimio is seeking political clout looking at 2027. They are in pursuit of the 24-hour news cycle to set the agenda and gain more influence, even if that means acting like they are five up.

If it had been easy to take power, many who tried like Raila, would already have seized it. The likes of Oginga Odinga, Kenneth Matiba, Charles Nyachae and George Saitoti who are gone now, and others who are still around like Kalonzo Musyoka tried but came a cropper. It was no mean feat for William Ruto to soar to the presidency. Hitherto, to his triumph, there had been a longstanding argument that nobody in this country could become president if the powers that be did not allow them or if he wasn’t part of the crème de la crème. Ruto defied this and other odds to put that genie back in the bottle.

Therefore, Ruto’s precious treasure must remain that when he says he will do something, it gets done. Many promises have been made and are yet to be kept, but as Ruto said the ‘deep state’ couldn’t stop him, he should fix the economy as he pledged and keep that reputation unscathed. It would not be fair to claim that Ruto is failing at this time when things are still twisted. When new government policies start to firm up, then others can judge and possibly name another way. Some encouraging developments so far include putting financial processes in the ministries in order, setting heads rolling owing to corruption and  reviving stalled projects, such as the Itare dam, among others.

At this time, it is not possible that Kenya Kwanza can sell a singular story that the government is doing well and Kenya is on the right track, and not take some flak for it. The high cost of living means perception might continue going downhill, which is what grants Azimio a glimmer of hope for a revival, especially Raila. Winning over the minds of Kenyans at this juncture in a structured coordinated way hardly seems relevant to Kenya Kwanza, but it does matter what happens now in the communications domain. The continued lamentation by the opposition and Kenyans about the vexing economic situation cannot be ignored and is something the government must endeavour to stem.

When one is not doing well, they’ll hate the city. It is crucial for the government to focus on making life cheaper in Kenya, so that all and sundry can feel it. Of course, we cannot be simplistic, there are many parameters to look at, but the resounding one is lowering the cost of living. Outwitting his challengers and sworn enemies in the 2022 bloodless political coup that was the presidential election means that Ruto has capacity to deliver the change Kenyans still anticipate. If Ruto were to fail, then many will see it to come from  unwillingness to do it, and not as incapability, making it an even harder pill for them to swallow.

Raila has always sought to generate the perfect illusion of Kenyans reaching a ‘Canaan’. Lately, he is calling people to “break the wrong rules” in mass action. It is controversial this, but Raila is in the dying embers of his long political career credited with both positives and negatives. The Constitution came about with his and others’ agitation, and it is doing a great job for Kenyans. Raila may not get his mojo back to be a leading presidential contender in 2022 but his efforts can only have gusto if Ruto fails. Though Raila cannot solely take all credit, sharing in constitutional changes especially the 2010 Constitution, is major.

The reform achievements did not help Raila in 2022, maybe Kenyans did not care about all that. Many felt the country had been grossly mismanaged by Uhuru Kenyatta and partly blamed Raila for it. Kenyans seemed to seek someone energetic to get things working again. Raila is definitely not a great people manager, which is evident if we are to examine how he has run his political organisations and even when he was Prime Minister. Being an effective people manager, President Ruto can solve the most important need of lowering the cost of living. Kenya needs someone who can wrest control of government business in a hands-on unwavering manner and reclaim it for the people.

Becoming president in Kenya takes more than political action, as we have observed in this column before, that there is even a spiritual dimension to it. If President Ruto can calculatingly introduce a new culture of genuine work and delivery in government, he can awaken citizen responsibility in taking the frontline in paying tax, and being patriotic. Low-hanging fruit is pushing the tax paying culture, for instance, through the church as Christians are actually commanded by the Holy Book to pay tax. This where church leaders can give the government a shot in the arm as it is more involved in government today than ever before.

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