Does William Ruto Know What He’s Dealing With?


Does William Ruto Know What He’s Dealing With?

As the #Occupy movement led by Gen Z has risen, floundered and risen again over the last fortnight or so, President William Ruto’s various reactions – first calling the #OccupyParliament brigade treasonous; then doubling down and feigning a call for national dialogue; before quickly enacting a Twitter Space which has resulted in nothing more than backlash for Osama Otero (the erstwhile Gen Z mobiliser turned William Ruto co-host on the Twitter Space); to forming a national debt audit task force which appears dead on arrival following the decline by the Law Society of Kenya and its President to participate in it, deeming it an unconstitutional exercise; among other gaffes – the President is either being hard headed or is completely lost at sea.

Whatever it is – whether the President is being a kichwa ngumu or hashiki rada – the truth is that whatever is unfolding in the country cannot and should not be taken lightly, whether by the President or by anyone else. The fact that the hallowed grounds of Parliament were breached, parts of the Supreme Court and office of the Chief Justice were vandalised, and that the promise to #OccupyStateHouse seemed real, must all be seen as microcosms of something bigger. That something bigger, which has resulted in Members of Parliament hiding from their constituents for fear of public reprimands, or Cabinet Secretaries driving without mounted flags on their fuel guzzlers in a bid to be nondescript all speak to the fact that whatever was seen on the national stage as embodied by the #Occupy movement has slowly but surely permeated into the grassroots, if not the other way round – that the volcano started boiling from the grassroots and only erupted on the national stage, soiling the various seats of power before returning to gather even more momentum from the hinterlands. As the Gen Z say, they will not believe.

This state of organised chaos – if we may loosely call it that – points to and calls for one thing and one thing only, that President William Ruto needs to move and be seen to be moving with speed. That speed needs to be applied and be seen to be applied in reversing some of his punitive policies; in initiating a raft of reforms that anchor accountability, transparency and real, tangible public participation; in forming a lean, competent and fit for purpose government; in adopting new pro-people policies as regards education, healthcare, cost of living, anti-corruption, youth employment and taxation; and more importantly and urgently in riding himself and his government of all political baggage (could there be some garbage in there to?). 

If he hasn’t watched it already, maybe it’s time for the President to watch the film Triple Frontier, in which ex-Delta Force teammates attempt to smuggle $3 million drug money on a chopper across the South American mountainside. Weighed down by the weight of the loot, the chopper starts meandering, at which point the crew attempts to throw out as much money as they can to make the chopper lighter. They don’t manage to offload into the wilderness as much money as quickly as they should have, and eventually the chopper crashes under the weight of the money. 

Much as they eventually make it out with the money after fighting with the locals on the ground and along their way to the beachfront where they catch water transport and elope, the crew has to fight the fights of and for their lives, losing lives and limb and sustaining lifelong scars. 

It is this exact spot that William Ruto finds himself today, where he either quickly drops off as much baggage (which, like the money in the movie, he thinks he needs) for his chopper to keep flying, or else he keeps offloading the baggage slowly (at the rate at which he is currently doing) and risk the chopper crashing, after which everything will be uncertain. Much as the crew in the movie fought off those they encountered in the jungle after the chopper crashed and eventually made away with part of the loot, there are no guarantees that if his chopper (read government) crashes, William Ruto will manage to fight for his life and his luggage and make it out in one piece. This is because unlike in the movie (real life is usually more complicated than what’s shown in the movies) where the crash of the chopper surprised those on the ground, in Ruto’s case, those on the ground are eagerly awaiting for his metaphoric chopper to crash, loaded with money. What this may portend for William Ruto and his loaded chopper is anyone’s guess.    

Lastly, if President William Ruto takes nothing away from this, here’s what he mustn’t forget.

At the height of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa in 1985, long serving African National Congress (ANC) President O.R. Tambo gave a ground shaking speech via Radio Freedom in which he called for South Africans, especially the youth, to make the country ‘‘ungovernable’’ and ‘‘unworkable’’. Tambo, in effect, was saying unless the P. W. Botha apartheid government reversed its hate, discrimination, segregation, harassment and brutality against Black South Africans, then Botha and his government could as well forget governing South Africa.

Going by the successive actions of the #Occupy movement as led by Gen Z, all indicators are that unless William Ruto and his government change and change quickly, then there remains an imminent promise to make Kenya ‘‘ungovernable’’ and ‘‘unworkable’’, albeit using peaceful means, with the national flag having been reclaimed as the movement’s symbol. Will William Ruto therefore survive the risk of Kenya being ‘‘ungovernable’’ and ‘‘unworkable’’, like O. R. Tambo made South Africa under P. W. Botha, or would he rather climb down and make Kenya governable and workable in concert with the millions of young Kenyans who are demanding better of and for themselves? Does William Ruto appreciate that these are the early signs of ungovernability and unworkability? Hopefully, William Ruto is not P. W. Botha. Hopefully.

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