What you need to know:
- I personally believe that the man’s record stinks to the high heavens, and that he’s unelectable if it’s exposed to full sunlight.
- There are unexamined chapters in Mr Ruto’s life. We need an exposé on each and every one of those unilluminated stanzas of the man’s life.
I’ve been pilloried by zealots for my stinging columns on DP William Ruto. I’ve taken it all in my stride. That’s because the Press can’t have a thin skin. Robust democracy requires an unblinking press. Not just in the news section, but especially within the commentariat. We shape public opinion, and must do so without fear, or favour.
That’s why individuals who might rise to the pinnacle of the state – the inner sanctum of power – must suffer our most piercing scrutiny. Our job is to expose their guts – entrails and all, to the public. Mr Ruto is Exhibit A in this matrix. The man from Sugoi has the most ungoverned greed for power this side of the Sahara.
That’s why Mr Ruto has for long been in my crosshairs. He could soon be overlord of 60 million Kenyans. That’s a scary thought, and it’s why we must expose every inch of his life. We must turn every rock that’s associated with him, and look underneath. That’s how democracies vet would-be leaders. Failure to do so could doom the republic.
If you need evidence, just look at how the laxity in American democracy permitted the illiberal and autocratic Donald Trump to sneak through. The man nearly wrecked one of the greatest democracies in the world. We can’t let that suicidal experiment repeat itself in Kenya. If we turn Mr Ruto’s life upside down, and he wins, so be it.
So, I don’t want to hear any more crybabies protesting the scrutiny of Mr Ruto. Don’t bring a butter knife if you go to a gunfight. Mr Ruto has a public record that’s open to all and sundry. That record must be fully debated – openly and without calumny. I personally believe that the man’s record stinks to the high heavens, and that he’s unelectable if it’s exposed to full sunlight.
Youth for Kanu ’92
The presidency isn’t an entitlement, or a birthright. We have every right – and obligation – to rake anyone seeking that office over the coals. It’s our office as the public and we shouldn’t give it away to shadowy figures, or any person who hasn’t been fully turned upside down.
More than 400 years ago, William Shakespeare wrote in The Tempest Act II, Scene I that “what’s past is prologue”. In the scene, Antonio uses the phrase to suggest that what has passed before – history or the past – is the reason he and Sebastian are about to kill, or make whatever choice they do.
In other words, our past decides, or determines, our future. If you want to know what I am likely to do tomorrow, you’d better be advised to comb through my past. The past is the best predictor of the future. Villains don’t suddenly turn into saints. It could happen, but rarely does. One who’s been ruthless before is likely to be ruthless in the future.
There are unexamined chapters in Mr Ruto’s life. We need an exposé on each and every one of those unilluminated stanzas of the man’s life. One intriguing period in Mr Ruto’s life concerns his tenure in Kanu as one of its blue-eyed boys in the outfit known as Youth for Kanu ’92. Mr Ruto was associated with this violent group whose main purpose was to stop multipartyism and entrench the Moi-Kanu’s brutal dictatorship.
Crimes against humanity
Youth for Kanu ’92 was an anti-democratic state-sponsored group. Its mission was to stop Kenyans from becoming a democracy. Mr Ruto and one Cyrus Jirongo were its honchos. We must know everything Mr Ruto planned and did at Kanu for Youth ’92. No more, no less.
Secondly, we need to know exactly why Mr Ruto opposed the 2010 Constitution. He must restate for us – and justify – why he led the No Campaign. This is very urgent because lately he’s become the biggest “defender” of the 2010 Constitution. What has been his Saul-to-Paul constitutional moment? A grown man doesn’t wake up one day suddenly yelling that blue is red. Such a gargantuan intellectual summersault can hide hypocrisy and a dictator within.
Thirdly, Mr Ruto must come clean on what he knows, or did, if anything, to sabotage his own case on charges of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court. The ICC Prosecutor has fingered him, among others, in the scheme to defeat justice.
Fourth, Mr Ruto has been linked to many corruption scandals. Except for the Muteshi land case, he’s never been found liable. But scandals abound from Weston Hotel to many others. These are serious Chapter Six legal matters, which could disqualify him from public office. He needs to be fully investigated and either exonerated, or charged, in a court of law. If Mr Ruto is to become president, we must know him.
Will he abolish term limits, or declare himself a Putin? Will he rule with an iron fist, suppress all rights, and exile en masse real and perceived opponents? Will Mr Ruto abolish our fledgling democracy? We need answers, or say nyet.
Makau Mutua is SUNY Distinguished Professor and Margaret W. Wong Professor at Buffalo Law School. He’s chair of KHRC. @makaumutua