Letter from the heart for the DP

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua. 

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua was once quoted by journalists as saying: “I speak from my heart; I say what is in my heart. I am a truthful man, I am an honest man. Kenyans are not used to honesty and many people have a problem with that.”

Indeed, he has for a considerable period of time now said whatever was in his heart at any moment, though, to be sure, the other positive traits he attributes to himself — truth and honesty — can only depend on the objective interpretation of the listener. What is not clear is whether all his public utterances are always wise or politic.

Many of his detractors, especially on social media where he has been excoriated more than any other politician in this country, do not think so. They believe he does not pause for reflection before speaking, and that he is a strictly parochial rather than a national leader. 

They also believe he is consumed by bitterness and vendetta, qualities that do not sit well with the high political office he holds. Some even go as far as saying that the DP is caught in a time warp, which is why he seems to be still on the campaign trail long after his party was declared last year’s election winner.

This, in many people’s view, indicates an insecurity that can only be assuaged by looking backwards for scapegoats rather than forward towards workable solutions for this country’s problems. I don’t necessarily subscribe to most of these views, and I have no intention here of regurgitating all the negative views expressed about a man I don’t know personally but who will be my leader for the next four years and eight months.

However, I am also a patriot who should be accorded the same liberties to articulate a few “truths” directly at Mr Gachagua in the same candid manner in which he addresses issues dear to his heart.

“Your Excellency: You are second in command in this country, and every word you utter in public is of great moment for both those who voted for you and those who didn’t. You are supposed to be above tribe, factions, and petty hatreds that diminish rather than exalt.

Part of your job description is to heal rather than sow discord. This country is in the throes of the worst economic downturn it has experienced since the turn of the century and steady helmsmanship is required to steer the ship of State to safer shores. You are expected to assist the Head of State to calm any political turbulence that may distract him. That does not seem to be happening.

Political turmoil 

“At a time of great political turmoil, you appear to be leading a group of hardliners for whom the word ‘compromise’ is anathema. Sir, you shouldn’t expect to pummel the opposition to submission and still remain with a country.

Please remember, half of those who voted last August cast their ballots for Mr Raila Odinga, while half of all the registered voters did not vote at all. Though I agree with you that a handshake should not be on the cards, I believe the best way to pre-empt street protests is through negotiations. Some people don’t believe they have much to lose.

“One final thing which could be a little sensitive; perhaps you have a reason to dislike the Kenyatta family for reasons beyond political differences which became manifest last year.

It is possible many people feel the way you do. However, as a national leader, your frequent derogation of the family sounds a little too petulant and vindictive, behaviour that does not sit well with the grandeur of your office. Your latest advice to the family to cede half of their land holdings to children of the Mau Mau sounds reasonable, but really, that should go for all large landowners.

“Such utterances coming soon after hired thugs invaded the family’s Northlands farm bespeaks of a dangerous fixation with settling scores and may be a harbinger of worse things that may eventually affect all large landowners. It would be more prudent for the government, of which you are a ‘principal shareholder’, to investigate ways in which land can be redistributed in a more civilised manner. Taxing idle land could be a good starting point. Taking a second look at multinational firms which own hundreds of thousands of acres all over the country could be a second option.

“On a more positive note, I wish to thank you wholeheartedly for the job you are doing to eradicate rampant drunkenness and drug abuse in your Mt Kenya backyard. You must not relent. However, you may be going about it the wrong way for if this liquor is available, it will still be drunk.

Those who smuggle the ingredients and those who manufacture and distribute the stuff are the real culprits. The partakers of the illicit substances are at the tail-end of a long supply chain and the poisons are slowly killing them. Go for those who profit from the misery of millions. They are not businesspeople to be protected; they are murderers who deserve no mercy.”

Mr Ngwiri is a consultant editor; [email protected].