The Uhuru-Ruto tiff, what is the way forward?

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto during Madaraka Day celebrations in Nairobi on June 1, 2020.

Photo credit: File | PSCU

What you need to know:

  • The ‘bad blood’ between the president and his deputy has been augmented by the actions of the DP’s allies.
  • The political truce between opposition chief Raila Odinga on March 2018 is the one thing that fractured the Jubilee Coalition.
  • Fostering a debate about class struggles is a recipe for instability

The relationship between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto has been frosty. The President has taken a series of steps to ‘cut down’ his deputy to size. Firstly, the Dr Ruto’s allies were removed from key Jubilee party leadership positions.  

The tiff has escalated to the point that the DP ‘skipped’ an important national conference on Covid-19.   This standoff has thrown the country in a state of confusion. The international community is already showing signs of concern.

This is not good for the country’s development. It is against this background that the clergy have been trying to bring the two leaders together.  

However, this truce can only happen if certain conditions are met, largely by the deputy president’s camp. The ‘bad blood’ between the president and his deputy has been augmented by the actions of the DP’s allies.

 In fact, there is no known public altercation between the president and his deputy. What we have repeatedly seen the brazen verbal attacks by DP’s allies directed either at the President or members of his family.

Reconciliation efforts

This careless talk by the DP’s troops has to stop. As long as the said leaders still spew epithets at the Head of State, nothing much will be achieved from the reconciliation efforts.

The level of indiscipline among the DP’s troops is appalling. If you look at all other major political parties, you will notice that dissent is not as pronounced as it is in the ruling party.

Even when leaders, differ, there is a measure of restraint. I haven’t heard of members of other parties directly challenge their party leaders in public.

The DP should call his troops to order. He should publicly criticise those who insult the President. Until this is seen to be done, the perception that these utterances have his blessings will still linger.

By talking ill of the president, the DP should know that his allies are also disrespecting him because the presidency comprises the President his deputy. 

Ruling coalition

The DP is opposed constitutional reforms. This time around, he is pitted against his boss because the President is keen on ensuring that Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) succeeds. However the clamour for constitutional reforms tallies with what Dr Ruto has been advocating for in the past.

The idea that there were sections of the promulgated Constitution which required a review is vindicated by the fact that the document has survived for a while and relooking at whatever problematic sections in it should be undertaken as soon as possible. Even the vexing issue of the two thirds gender rule can be dispensed with here.

The political truce between opposition chief Raila Odinga on March 2018 is the one thing that fractured the Jubilee Coalition. It came at a time when the country was reeling from the aftermath of a disputed presidential election.

 Everything was almost grinding to a halt and the tension was palpable. So it is quite understandable that the once bitter political rivals decided to mend fences. The complaints by the DP and his allies arose out of the fact that they were not consulted.

Political slogan

But we have to recognise that the reconciliation altered the relationship between the President and the opposition chief. From then on, they occasionally attend certain events together. They also work closely in the National Assembly and the Senate.

To this extent, the president and the ODM boss became political partners and any kind of slur on Mr Odinga has a direct bearing on the President.

It is foolhardy for the DP’s allies to pour scorn on the ODM leader hoping that it has nothing to do with the President. Even when they deride BBI, they forget that the President is at the centre of it and any condemnation of the initiative is an insult to him.

The DP has come up with a political slogan that claims that Kenya is a hustler nation. We know that widespread poverty is a feature of almost all African countries. Again, the Jubilee government has put in place measures that ought to mitigate this problem.

Fostering a debate about class struggles is a recipe for instability. It is even a bad proposition considering that the proponents are part and parcel of the same government they are criticising.

So, if the DP is committed to reconciliation between him and his boss, he must re-engineer his efforts towards supporting the president’s development agenda.

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