Ruto unfit to be Kenya’s President

Monday May 09 2022
Ruto pic

Deputy President William Ruto address mourners at Nyayo National Stadium on April 29, 2022 during the State funeral of late President Mwai Kibaki. PHOTO | NMG

By Makau Mutua

I didn’t know Deputy President William Ruto was a facsimile of the man with the same name twice – Miguna Miguna. Mr Ruto removed all doubt last week. As they say in street lingo, Mr Miguna and Mr Ruto belong to the same WhatsApp group. I had always suspected Mr Ruto was unfit for duty.

Since 2013, I thought he wasn’t the right choice for Deputy President. Now I am convinced he shouldn’t be elected President of the Republic of Kenya. It would be a colossal error. Someone with the temperament of a prepubescent boy shouldn’t be given the keys to State House. Kenya is fragile, and doesn’t need an even more fragile leader. Not unless Kenyans have a death wish.

I know people think I’ve no time for Mr Ruto. They are right – I don’t. But if Mr Ruto was a four-alarm fire before, he’s now a five-alarm fire. Kenyans should be crying “mayday!” That’s the international distress signal used by aircraft and ships to indicate an imminent catastrophe.

Also Read: Ruto is Kenya’s President-in-waiting

As Mr Ruto approaches the presidency, I have no choice but to send out that ominous signal. We are at an ominous inflection point. Since it became a republic, Kenya hasn’t been threatened with a leader of Mr Ruto’s dangerous character. I don’t want to sound alarmist, but it would be professional malpractice as a scholar of democracy for me not to warn Kenyans of the gathering clouds.

They say power doesn’t create the character in men. Rather, it reveals the character in them. In the last several weeks, and especially this past one, Mr Ruto has left no doubt what sort of a person he is. In the past year, he’s lustily gone mano-a-mano with his boss, Jubilee’s Uhuru Kenyatta. That in itself was bad enough. In fact, it’s not the done thing. Nowhere in the world today does the “principal assistant” to the head of state nakedly take on his boss in public. Normal human beings resign rather than gridlock government. VP Oginga Odinga set the pace a long time ago when he quit over policy disagreements with Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. He left honourably.

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Mr Ruto’s disagreements with Mr Kenyatta, however, are not on policy. They are banal and inane. I know Mr Ruto’s minions blame Mr Kenyatta for the kerfuffle between the two. That’s nonsense. Mr Ruto works for Mr Kenyatta, not the other way round. His supporters say that Mr Ruto was elected by Kenyans to serve along Mr Kenyatta. That’s true. He was elected as Mr Kenyatta’s subordinate, or underling, and not as his equal. Mr Ruto, however, thought he was co-president. That’s not what the Constitution of Kenya provides. Mr Ruto should’ve packed his bags and left if he couldn’t subordinate himself to Mr Kenyatta. Finito – end of matter. Not squat in office like a laggard fleecing taxpayers.

The political greed Mr Ruto has exhibited is otherworldly. Last week, he let it all hang out. At the funeral service for President Mwai Kibaki, Mr Ruto took the opportunity to humiliate and belittle Mr Kenyatta in front of foreign heads of state. His remarks were beamed live to the nation and the world. With his boss nearby, Mr Ruto called Kibaki Kenya’s greatest president. Ouch! So, what’s Mr Kenyatta? The worst? Draw your conclusions. Mr Ruto went further and said that he was like Mr Kibaki, the son of a poor peasant who rose from nothing to the inner sanctum of power. The dig against Mr Kenyatta was clear here – that he was an undeserving “dynasty” man.

The following day at Kibaki’s internment in Othaya, Mr Ruto rubbed more salt into the wound. With his supporters on cue, he praised Kibaki and took digs at Mr Kenyatta and Azimio’s Raila Odinga. He made sure his goons – who were reportedly bussed there and orchestrated – disrespected Mr Odinga. This isn’t the first time Mr Ruto has upstaged and humiliated Mr Kenyatta in public. I’ve counted at least a dozen times. Mr Kenyatta keeps on tolerating the calumny. I would simply disinvite Mr Ruto to public events so he can keep his vituperative comments to himself. Were the roles reversed, Mr Kenyatta would be rotting in Kamiti Maximum Prison, if not worse. Make no mistake about it.

On Labour Day, Mr Ruto uncorked everything in his verbal arsenal and nuked Mr Kenyatta. In a juvenile tweet, he lambasted his boss for incompetence, laziness, and keeping the company of “useless” leaders. My jaw dropped to the floor. Mr Ruto told Mr Kenyatta only he could’ve rescued Kenya from its current woes.

I am sure the next DP won’t behave like Mr Ruto, especially if Mr Ruto – God forbid – were elected President. It would be poetic justice were it to happen. But Mr Ruto must never be entrusted with the state – ever. In a year in power, we wouldn’t recognise our country.