President William Ruto is by all accounts a kind and generous man. Anyone who has interacted with him can confirm the concern and empathy he shows for those who may be in need. He willingly helps out when required to, and is also loyal, almost to a fault, to those who have stood with him. He does not abandon or forget friends and allies.
Unfortunately, he is sometimes unable to make the distinction between dipping into his own pocket to reward acolytes, and employing public resources to do so.
The end result is the magnificent own goal he has executed in naming a bloated cast of Chief Administrative Secretaries, the majority of whom bring absolutely no skills, experience and training to government.
It is widely acknowledged that every president will bring trusted ‘home boys’ into his administration. All our four presidents before Ruto did so. Further afield, even in that great bastion of democracy, the United States of America —the Great Satan if you are so inclined— every president has brought his Texas, Georgia, California, Arkansas, Yale, Harvard, or other mafia into his administration.
Incapable of learning
However, a clear line is always drawn between pure political reward and the competencies one brings. Care is also taken not to undermine the existing public service structures with an overload of political appointees who know nothing and are incapable of learning.
The majority of fellows brought into the undefined role of CAS belong to that group of failed politicians, clueless political sycophants and errand boys and other descriptions that do not deserve to be anywhere near positions of responsibility.
The excessive list of 50 is a major drain on the exchequer, the declared salaries and entitlements bound to be doubled by all those crazy sitting, standing, attendance, responsibility, sleeping and breathing allowances the parasitic classes award themselves.
Apart from the financial cost to be borne by you and I, there is also the political cost that President Ruto has failed to see.
The appointments reveal the crass hypocrisy of an administration that came to office promising budget cuts and rationalisation of public expenditure, but is demonstrating that the ‘tighten you belts’ exhortations apply only to the have-nots, while the fats cats continue with unbridled greed.
This is a big betrayal for every Kenyan who believed that President Ruto would abandon the reckless profligacy of his previous Jubilee administration.
And it is a specific betrayal of the so-called Hustlers who voted in droves for a movement they mistakenly believed would accord them priority in the development agenda, those who bought the lie that this would be a government of hustlers and mama mboga.
President Ruto will earn the gratitude of those getting appointments they don’t deserve just so that they can ‘eat’ public funds while giving nothing in return.
But he will in due course suffer the wrath of disenchanted voters who can only stand on the sidelines and witness the deception that was the hustler movement.
The appointment of 50 Chief Administrative Secretaries might be the icing on the cake in terms of callous disregard for the public interest, but indications of President Ruto’s mode of governance were seen early with the appointment of Cabinet Secretaries and Principal Secretaries.
The rationale for appointing a Cabinet from outside Parliament was so that those important offices would be occupied by competent policy makers rather than the usual political rabble. That principle has been long thrown out of the window, as the main criterion now seems to be sycophancy and demonstrated proclivity to theft and plunder of public resources.
President Ruto has gone further and also populated the ranks of Principal Secretary, the actual chief administrators and accounting officers in government ministries, with hopeless political detritus.
He is doing the same in appointments to state corporations and statutory bodies, institutions in dire need of competent boards of directors and management cadre, but now bound to be driven deeper into the black hole of waste through clueless leadership.
Mismanagement of government and its institutions will cost President Ruto dearly, for his grand vision will not be achieved when driven by incompetent dullards.
There is time to make amends. He can start by scrapping that CAS nonsense altogether.
Then, he often boasts of his record in building and running successful commercial ventures. He just has to look at that long list of political appointees and ask himself which individuals in it he can entrust with the job of running his businesses. You can be assured that he will not want any of them anywhere near his money.
[email protected] @MachariaGaitho