Our always well-intentioned Catholic bishops want to direct their charm at the unhappy couple in the Presidency and reconcile President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy, Dr William Ruto.
But the attempt to stitch this ruptured relationship is not only going to be a tough one, it has come almost four years too late. And since one is now a true lame-duck President that must vacate office in less than a year’s time, the reconciliation attempt is a waste of precious pastoral time.
It probably would have made sense to do this when the cracks first appeared and a rapprochement could have given the team ample time to continue partnering in the execution of their legacy projects. Now it does not. It is not even necessary.
The two do not need to have been friends for the Cabinet to meet and execute important government work. We know that the adage “we do not have to be friends to work together” applies more to politicians than to any other category of co-workers and so for the President not to chair Cabinet meetings for months on end on account of irreconcilable differences with his deputy is just irresponsible.
Regular review meetings
The public knows that since January 2019, the President’s Executive Order effectively placed the oversight role over ministries and virtually all government departments under Interior and Government Coordination CS Fred Matiang’i and we know that he chairs regular review meetings. But these cannot supplant Cabinet.
The two do not need to be friends for the government to fight corruption.
It did not happen at the height of their bromance and it is not going to happen now.
The general view, which I sympathise with, is that the State has been captured by cartels that are determined to frustrate any attempts to dismantle the framework set up to allow corruption to flourish.
The President has sufficient machinery and firepower to deal a killer blow against corruption. That he has not done so is not because he and Dr Ruto have been running in opposite directions for some time now.
We cannot blame the unwillingness of the government to control the appetite for public debt on this separation.
Life does go on after couples separate but live in the same house. The discipline required to stop borrowing when you know that you have hit the ceiling is driven by the President, who does not need the permission of his deputy.
In deed and fact, the government has been running but it has not been fast or efficient.
It faces plenty of challenges ranging from criticism over the implementation of the competency-based curriculum, how to prop up an economy savaged by Covid-19, the cyclical drought exacerbated by changing weather patterns undermining the pledge to make Kenya food secure, unending insecurity in parts of the Rift Valley, how to protect Kenyans from a runaway cost of living triggered by a punishing tax regime, etc.
That the responses have been knee-jerk, unconvincing or irrational (like the continuing part closure of the economy because of Covid) has little to do with the fact that our President and his deputy do not regularly share a cup of tea. When there is apparent abdication at the top, these are the consequences.
The time to do anything meaningful about this is short as electioneering has taken over fully and even key government functionaries eyeing politics quit by February.
The Deputy President has been in full throttle chasing his ambition to succeed his boss and although he says he is willing to have unconditional amity talks to see him “work again” in government, he is not persuasive. He is clearly enjoying the freedom to campaign using public resources and State protection.
No time for one another
After all that has happened, the public does not want to be burdened with further hypocrisy of people (the Presidency, ministers and other government worthies) that clearly have no time for one another, pretending to be a team.
Rather than worry about making friends out of the top two, our bishops should be vigilant monitoring hate speech and potentially divisive politicking.
They should be educating their followers about what to look out for and demand from those seeking votes. They should be watching the actions (and inactions) of the damaged Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.
In a word, they should now be fully focused on ensuring the country has peaceful and credible elections rather than waste useful time reuniting people that must inevitably split again shortly.
[email protected], @tmshindi)