MWAMISI: Ruto’s laser-focus on projects shows astuteness

Radical policies always lead to increased criticism at developmental stages and actions taken are seen as authoritarian.

In Summary
  • The President and the Chief Justice can work together to advocate legal reforms and strengthen anticorruption laws.
  • In effect, mechanisms can be established to ensure prosecution of corruption cases.
President William Ruto interacts with an employee at the Nandi Poultry Processing Plant in Emgwen, Nandi county, on January 16, 2024.
DEVELOPMENT: President William Ruto interacts with an employee at the Nandi Poultry Processing Plant in Emgwen, Nandi county, on January 16, 2024.

Despite challenges that keep arising against the President’s new projects, he has done his best to stay on track and avoid being derailed. Although the Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda is a plan with facets to transform the economic fortunes at the grassroots, the main approach is clearly to create jobs, transform the medical sector by implementing Universal Health Coverage, and achieving food security in Kenya.

Recently, the President announced that 20 percent of social housing will be set aside for mboga and boda boda riders. In this regard, the President came up with an affordable mortgage arrangement whereby people will be able to make a deposit of £80,000 (Sh16, 371,240) and pay between £3,600 (Sh736,705) and £6,000 (Sh1,227,843) per month at an interest rate of 3 percent for 15 years depending on the houses. This is an example of Ruto’s focus and a practical flexibility in governance. 

The ability to adjust and be responsive to the needs of the people makes Ruto a smart and effective political leader. David Easton, a prominent political scientist, defined politics as “the authoritative allocation of values in a society, resources, power, and the resolution of conflicts within a political system.” Through the Hustler Fund and the Housing Projects, it can be objectively projected that President might become a highly popular President at the grassroots as he empowers the masses at the periphery.

An intelligent leader in power, keeps his eyes on the equitable distribution of resources because this is all that matters to the people. President Lula Da Silva of Brasil became very popular and loved by his people because he implemented social programmes that aimed to reduce poverty and inequality. In January last year, Lula was sworn in for a third term after Brazilians elected him as the oldest Brazilian president at inauguration.

Evo Morales of Bolivia focused on social and economic reforms, including the nationalisation of natural resources, with the goal of reducing poverty and empowering indigenous communities. Hugo Chavez of Venezuela implemented policies to redistribute wealth from oil revenues to support social programmes and alleviate poverty.

Opinion about the above leaders and their policies obviously varies but they improved their countries’ fortunes or strategically laid the ground for a brighter future. Radical policies always lead to increased criticism at the developmental stages. It is possible that actions taken are seen as authoritarian tendencies, and the political leadership role in economic development is complex. Economic development is also attributable to a combination of factors, but policies have a critical role in it.

The highly developed economies of Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan, typically referred to as the Asian tigers, have strong governance, strategic economic policies, investments in education and infrastructure, and proactive industrialisation strategies to thank for their powerful economies today. Export-oriented industrialisation was also crucial for these Asian nations, as was the focus on infrastructure development, technology, and innovation.

Clearly, President Ruto is employing a clear blueprint that he can only keep improving. One of the greatest challenges the President seems to have known would threaten his administration's effectiveness is corruption. Through digitisation and automation, Ruto is dealing a deadly blow to the loss of revenue at the collection level. His administration has also worked to widen the tax net. Despite resistance to his tax policies, the President is on the right track if we are to reflect on the era of Kibaki where good progress was made.

Obviously, Kenyans will want to see how their taxes are being utilised, and the President is working hard to ensure a working government. The Chief of Staff and Head of Public Service Felix Koskei has been tying up loose ends since last year to ensure a working civil service and cooperation among relevant quarters in that regard. He introduced the Zero-fault audits which will ensure greater transparency in the prudent management of scarce public resources.

“As Accounting Officers, you are responsible for …ensuring prudent implementation of projects, elimination of non-strategic spending, improving on the efficiency in public spending and ensuring value for money and zero tolerance for corruption,” Koskei said as he addressed Principal Secretaries in September last year. Performance contracting is designed to ensure that accounting officers take personal responsibility for lapses in the management of government finances. It is a new dawn in government offices because many know that if they continue with business as usual, they will either lose their jobs or end up in prison.

It is no surprise when the President appears frustrated with the Judiciary because of slow progress of graft cases. However, building consensus is crucial in politics and it is smart that Ruto put pressure on the Judiciary and then opted to meet and engage them. Many have cited the doctrine of separation of powers, which can be traced back to political philosopher Baron de Montesquieu as far back as 1748, as something that President Ruto must adhere to.

Of course, this doctrine was intended to prevent the abuse of power and ensure checks and balances in the political system. Some, including political ‘bogeyman’ Raila Odinga condemned the Chief Justice for undertaking to meet the President after the relationship between the Executive and Judiciary appeared to be turning toxic, ostensibly because that would lead to being compromised. There are many areas of possible constructive and above-board cooperation that the Executive can have with the Judiciary.

The President and the CJ can work together to advocate legal reforms and strengthen anticorruption laws. In effect, mechanisms can be established to ensure prosecution of corruption cases. Kenyans long to see improvement in this area so corrupt can be brought to justice. This collaboration can ensure the recovery of assets acquired through corrupt means, both locally and internationally. The President has a pertinent role to play in the appointment of competent and unbiased judges. All that is important is to have corruption cases handled fairly and efficiently and to foster a culture that rejects corruption.


The writer is a political commentator 

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