Macharia Gaitho: Dialogue must transcend the egos of two rivals and benefit all of us

President William Ruto (left) and Azimio leader Raila Odinga.  

President William Ruto (left) and Azimio leader Raila Odinga. 

Photo credit: Ondari Ogega | Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

The argument that an inclusive dialogue outside the confines of Parliament is unconstitutional is total balderdash.

Unlike many of the insecure loudmouths around him, President William Ruto is not a foolish man. He knows full well that mere discussions or negotiations can never be unconstitutional or unlawful. He is actually a very clever and calculating fellow, the true embodiment of the 1984 hit Smooth Operator by singer Sade.

Dr Ruto is only getting his minions to push that legally indefensible position to gain the clear advantage ahead of any talks with opposition leader Raila Odinga. A Legislature he controls courtesy of ‘handshake’ deals he has cut with greedy and unprincipled opposition MPs should allow him to get his way.

Speakers in both Chambers, who have abandoned their roles as heads of another arm of government and reduced themselves to ruling party youth wingers, will allow following direction to ensure talks that are severely limited in scope and address only a fraction of the critical issues towards resolution of our national crisis.

If Ruto wants to be the statesman who rises above petty and parochial gamesmanship and shortsighted pursuits, he must abandon obdurate positions. He must, instead, take the steering wheel and drive the wide-ranging national dialogue, critical towards creation of a just and equitable society rather than one where national wealth is the preserve of a few ‘shareholders’.


He must think about the reforms critical to long-term survival of Kenya beyond the regular ritual of elections where half the county feels abandoned and left behind because those in power take it as their ‘turn to eat’ and national development budgets are subverted, to be doled out as political reward for quislings and charlatans who dance to His Master’s Voice.

President Ruto knows, in his heart, what he must do secure the legacy of a transformational leader who left Kenya a better place than he found it and secured the peace, security, stability and prosperity for his children and his children’s children for generations to come. I must clarify here that it is the future for all Kenyan children, not just the Ruto dynasty.

National conversation

If President Ruto knows what is good for him and the country, he must take the next step beyond accepting the need for dialogue and embrace a wider all-inclusive national conversation beyond the political formations in Parliament. A national dialogue can never be about a power struggle between two individuals.

Mr Odinga, in turn, must accept that dialogue is not about angling for position—in which case his call for something akin to the 2008 National Accord, which won him the premiership—was totally misplaced. It also undermined his own protests against charges that he was only interested in earning a seat at the feeding trough.

In any case, the opposition leader must also take fresh look at what he really wants out of any negotiations.

His latest insurgency was fuelled by claims that he was the actual winner of the presidential elections. Beyond the ‘open the servers’ mantra, he must do more to convince all that there is really a truth hidden in the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission election results database.

IEBC whistleblower

If the ‘actual’ results allegedly provided him by an IEBC whistleblower were procured by the same frauds and incompetents who failed dismally on their engagement to build and run an election results collection, collation and tallying centre for his campaign, then he could be a victim of a terrible lie from within. And those, of course, are the same fellows who could not provide credible evidence for his doomed Supreme Court challenge.

There is also the demands for lowering of the cost of living. That might be clever exploitation of general discontent over the Kenya Kwanza regime’s failed election promises, serial blunders and clear signs of crony capitalism, but it is hardly an issue to be determined at a national dialogue.

All may agree in broad general terms that the economy is in trouble and the people are suffering, but the nuts and bolts of solutions should surely be a headache for President Ruto and the motley bunch of Cabinet secretaries he has entrusted with great responsibility despite clear evidence that many of them would be unsuited to manage the village cattle dip.

On the cost of living, food and fuel prices, inflation, the shilling exchange rate and so on, the President must be given the leeway to fix things as per his mandate or fall on his own sword. He does not need help from the opposition.

[email protected]. @MachariaGaitho