President William Ruto
Caption for the landscape image:

Excuses do not a leader make

President William Ruto.

Photo credit: PCS

Dear William,

I trust you had a great time over the festive season. If, like many of your subjects, you may have over-indulged, there must be a grace period to beat the hangovers and generally regain your balance. Then you can look forward to good tidings in the New Year.

I wish you well. And this is not a statement of political support but for purely selfish reasons. We are tied at the hip; we sink or swim together. I stand to personally benefit if you succeed in turning around a broken economy and, on the contrary, directly suffer should your endeavours flop.

As you look forward to a happy and prosperous 2024, it is time to take a cold, hard look at your young presidency thus far.

Mr President, I urge you to, for a moment, ignore the praise singers and court jesters who dominate your administration. A sober analysis will reveal what you must acknowledge so that you can take urgent corrective action.

Mr President, you are presiding over abject failure. You made many grand and ambitious promises in your election campaign but things seem to be getting worse rather than better. Your constituents are hurting. Millions who fervently turned out in support of your dream have belatedly come to believe they were sold a lie.

Fix the mess

Yes, you inherited a floundering system, from a regime in which you served as second-in-command for 10 years, but the grace period for excuses has run out. You were elected to fix the mess you helped to create and so can no longer take refuge in pointing the finger of blame at your predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta or opposition leader Raila Odinga.

The perennial excuses are tired and wornout. They indicate lack of a working plan to get Kenya out of the morass. Worse, they signal a petty and vindictive mindset that could be a precursor to a dictatorial regime, where the rule of law is thrown out of the window under the guise of fighting alleged “cartels” or “dynasties”.

The constant blame games also suggest a worrying lack of confidence in both your economic revival strategy—if there is one—and your legitimacy for that high office. Even if your electoral victory was challenged and for many remains a bone of contention, that you are now the legal occupant of State House is not in doubt.

You cannot afford to be held back by evident insecurities and self-doubt. You cannot be forever looking over your shoulder. You have challenging tasks ahead which demand full focus and determination.

Indeed, if there are enemies that threaten delivery of your agenda, they are not in Mr Kenyatta or Mr Odinga but deep within your ruling mafia. You were elected on the promise to run mercantile cartels out of leadership but have, instead, created the most insidious lot within your government.

It is noteworthy that the new ‘Deep State’ that now runs the government is greedier and more vicious than anything that existed in the previous regime.

Often, it seems almost every government initiative sold as the solution to the increasingly high cost of living is driven by the quest for personal enrichment of a tiny cabal. And in most cases, the result is the exact opposite of what was advertised.

The new petroleum import regime and duty-free imports of rice, cooking oil and other essentials stand as testimony to mega-corruption unseen since the Daniel arap Moi kleptocracy.

We are also witnessing alarming tendencies towards megalomania and outright dictatorship. Abductions by security operatives and murder threats from State House around business rivalries send very disturbing signals. So do threats to wield the sword against political opponents or those calling out government excesses and contempt for the justice, law and order mechanism.

Mr President, the ceremonial sword of the Commander-in-Chief symbolises protection of the Constitution: It is not for decapitation of Kenyans.  Please bear that in mind as you cross over to the New Year.

Persuasion and plans

Never for a moment forget that your success will be dependent on persuasion and also plans that can actually resuscitate a floundering economy. Brute force will not work; neither will unpopular schemes rammed through even when it is clear that they make no economic sense.

 The beginning of 2024 must be the time to step back and review the policies and programmes that are doomed to abject failure. For instance, cheap populism around housing for everyone and universal health insurance may blind the cheering masses but only for a while.

Governance, you must by now have realised, is a very different ball game from electioneering.

Wishing you happiness and prosperity in the New Year.

Yours sincerely,

[email protected]. @MachariaGaitho