President must listen to everyone

William Ruto

President William Ruto. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The Kenya Kwanza administration is, predictably, reacting furiously to assessments indicating it has failed to meet many of its campaign promises.

That is no surprise as politicians live in a parallel universe. A universe of alternative facts where truth must often play second fiddle to lies, and where anybody highlighting failures and broken promises must be condemned as an enemy.

All too often, politicians will believe their own propaganda or the self-serving falsehoods churned out by hired hands.

When things are not going their way, they will retreat into a dangerous level of denial and, therefore, design plans and strategies that are doomed to fail because they are based on erroneous information in the first place.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga’s ‘Open the Servers’ demand, based on extremely suspect information on vote count shenanigans that allegedly cost him the presidential elections, is a perfect example of a politician in deep denial.

But so is insistence by President William Ruto’s government that it is delivering on its programme.

If anything, the government wants to have it both ways. On the one hand, it wants to trumpet its very thin list of achievements but, on the other hand, it is forever concocting excuses for failure to deliver.

In Isiolo over the weekend, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua was on one of his favourite tirades, hitting out at the media, and specifically this publication, for enumerating the government’s broken promises. He claimed that, to the contrary, the Kenya Kwanza administration had within just eight short months fulfilled most of what it pledged.

Typically, Mr Gachagua did not provide any data or facts to justify the rosy picture, instead merely fulminating against alleged media bias.

The DP is, of course, the most strident voice in blaming the previous government for this administration’s failures. He can hardly open his mouth without hitting out at former President Uhuru Kenyatta, whom he accuses, without the slightest shred of evidence, of looting the public coffers, hence leaving the new government with nothing to work with.

Dangerous obsession

Gachagua’s fixation on Uhuru, including constant threats to seize the fabled Kenyatta family wealth, borders on a dangerous obsession. The problem is that the government then distracts itself by making the former President the focal point of everything, in the process forgetting that it has a mandate to deliver on beyond looking over its shoulders.

No amount of pointing fingers at Mr Kenyatta, Mr Odinga, the media, the mythical ‘Deep State’ or phantom ‘cartels’ will divert attention away from the fact that Dr Ruto is the President today, and he is the one who was elected to office on certain promises.

As the President of the Republic of Kenya and Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces, and armed majorities in the National Assembly and the Senate, Dr Ruto has all the tools and instruments required to get on with the job. But he will not achieve much if his default position is excuses for delivery failures.

What President Ruto should be focused on during the countdown to his first anniversary is honest self-analysis of the road travelled so far. It is easy enough to measure the successes and failings, taking in good faith external views that may come from the media, civil society, opinion pollsters, trade unions, industry lobbies, the political opposition and other interest groups.

Some will be positive and at the extreme end others harshly brutal but, taken together, the views will allow the President to do a critical analysis that can then be used to build on a strategy going forward.

Simply shutting out and condemning critical voices serves absolutely no purpose and will, actually, only be setting the platform for abject failure. It would serve the President better if he opened his ears to all instead of relying only on a small bunch of politicians who will whisper lies in his ear on the presumption that it is what he wants to hear.

The propagandists and sycophants craving attention by identifying and launching wars against imagined enemies actually do not serve the President’s best interests but only their own selfish quests for power, influence and relevance.

Has President Ruto failed to deliver on many of his campaign pledges? That’s an unequivocal ‘yes’. Has President Ruto failed? No. It is simply too early to make such a assessment only eight short months into his reign.

However, the President must listen to the people, and to voices outside his inner circle, and he will realise that the public perceptions right now are not very good. Only with the right information will he make the proper corrective action.

[email protected]. @MachariaGaitho