Ruto: The bitter political divorcee

Monday April 04 2022
Rutto pic
By Makau Mutua

Two weeks ago I was left mouth agape every time Deputy President William Ruto spoke. He treated the country to putrid verbal discharge that left tongues wagging, and heads shaking. Is the second most powerful public official in Kenya coming unglued? Has the man from Sugoi lost all his marbles?

Watching from afar, I thought Mr Ruto has extinguished the word “dignity” from his vocabulary. Either that, or the word “shame” has lost meaning to him. Perhaps he’s desperate. There’s no other way of explaining his uncontrolled public wailing. I don’t have any love lost for him, but I now pity him. It’s unbecoming for a man of his station to publicly display the most inferior emotions.

Someone – anybody – should tell Mr Ruto that the presidency of the Republic of Kenya isn’t a birthright. Can whoever told him that he will, or must, be president please revise the promise, or prediction, to “may” or “could?” In that case, millions of Kenyans could, or may, become president, just as he. We love our mothers very much, and honour them, but it’s a mistake to literally take every sweet nothing they whisper into our ears – like “promising” us the presidency. I don’t know the provenance of Mr Ruto’s belief that he will, and must, be president, but I now advise him to see a “kamuti doctor” in Kitui so this seemingly delusional psychological malady can be cured.

Mr Ruto’s public utterances have rapidly deteriorated. His descent into vulgar political speech has been very steep. Let’s do the graph. If you recall, after the 2018 Handshake between ODM’s Raila Odinga and Jubilee’s Uhuru Kenyatta, Mr Ruto squirmed and turned and twisted in public. He lied to us and the country that everything was hanky dory between himself and Mr Kenyatta. For one, I wrote acres of print explaining that the so-called bromance between Mr Ruto and Mr Kenyatta was irretrievably broken. Mr Ruto’s minions and social media hirelings bitterly attacked me and vigorously repudiated this obvious truth.

Mr Ruto’s mouthpieces, especially Senator Murkomen and axed Majority Leader Aden Duale, verbally nuked anyone who dared tell the truth about the failed Ruto-Kenyatta Jubilee diarchy. As recently as last year, Mr Ruto was still insisting that he and Mr Kenyatta were simpatico. In fact, their relationship had gone completely south. Mr Kenyatta didn’t have time for Mr Ruto, and I suspect didn’t even want to hear the mention of his name. Finally, Mr Ruto gave up the fake act. He had to acknowledge what even children in the village knew – that he had been given his political divorce papers. The scion of the Burning Spear told him to take a walk in the park.

It was finished – without a right of appeal. I then watched Mr Ruto metamorphose into a bitter, venomous political divorcee. Like a sibling left high and dry, he started uncorking his anger against Mr Kenyatta directly. Where in the past he attacked Mr Odinga as a way of hitting out at Mr Kenyatta, now he went for his boss’s jugular. Openly. I could hear the crescendo coming with every angry public speech. Finally, in the last two weeks, Mr Ruto has allowed his tears to publicly flow freely. His wailing is now frontal and public every chance he gets. At times, he looks like he could use some therapy. It all seems like a personal catharsis.

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Several public displays of desperation by Mr Ruto come to mind. The first was a rally in Thika where like a spoilt brat, Mr Ruto accused Mr Kenyatta of purging his allies from government and branding them thieves. Deploying the sympathy card, Mr Ruto cried that he had always stood by Mr Kenyatta only to be kicked in the teeth. He intoned like a preacher, pleading with God to deal with Mr Kenyatta, whom he called a betrayer.

Then came the UDA NDC, which Mr Ruto turned into an orgy of attacks on his own government. Mr.Ruto forgot that the failures – and successes – of Jubilee are both his and Mr Kenyatta’s in equal measure. They both hold power.

The final straw for me came when Mr Ruto incited boda boda riders to storm police stations and violently repossess their impounded motorbikes. A Deputy President called for a boda boda insurrection against his own government. He broke the law. But that wasn’t even the half of it. His ungoverned mouth revealed a sinister and dangerous demagogue. Such violent speech can easily set the country on fire. I don’t know whether the Gicheru case at the ICC, in which he’s been implicated in the bribery of witnesses, is taking a toll on Mr Ruto. Something isn’t right with Mr Ruto.