Be very afraid of William Ruto – David Ndii warns Kenyans
David Ndii, a former close confidant of Raila Odinga who changed camps to head of Policy and Programmes at William Ruto’s presidential campaign, recently tweeted that Kenyans ought to be afraid of William Ruto. “Three dynasties with their billions and limitless public resources, weaponized state institutions, civil society and media couldn’t stop a mere hustler. Be very afraid… Should we really be afraid of William Ruto? Are there indications that William Ruto’s presidency will be the worst presidency Kenya has ever had?
Kenyans who are asking others to be afraid of William Ruto are justifying their warnings from three schools of thought: 1. Claims that William Ruto has the potential of becoming a dictator 2. Claims that William Ruto will be the most corrupt Kenyan president we have ever had 3. And claims that Ruto’s economic model will plunge us into a recession if not depression.
William Ruto – A potential dictator?
The claims that William Ruto is a potential dictator have been made by people like Azimio’s third in command and Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka and Jubilee’s Vice Chairman David Murathe. An article by Capital FM quoted Kalonzo Musyoka as saying that William Ruto has signs of being a dictator. According to Mr. Musyoka, William Ruto is likely to become a dictator because he refused to resign as Kenya’s Deputy President when he disagreed with President Uhuru Kenyatta. I am not sure how dictatorial tendencies are related to refusal to resign from office, but one may argue that William Ruto loves power too much that he better cling to power than resign. This argument would remind someone of the infamous words by Amos Kimunya, “I would rather die than resign”.
An article by Naomi Njoroge of People’s Daily quoted David Murathe as saying that if William Ruto becomes Kenya’s 5th President, then he (William Ruto) is likely to be ten times worse than the late President Daniel Moi. William Ruto “is also likely to change the term limit and could even rule for more than 30 years”, Murathe is quoted as saying.
The claims that William Ruto will be a dictator are based on the history of William Ruto with the late President Moi, and his relationship with Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni. William Ruto is said to have been a close student of Daniel Moi and from Moi’s school, Ruto was able to learn the political calculations that one needs to not only grab power but also stay in power. One may cite the case of Jubilee nominations prior to the 2017 general election where it is said that William Ruto was able to rig out President Kenyatta’s close associates in Mt. Kenya and replace them with politicians that were loyal to him. This scheme, as we can now attest, helped Ruto to retain Mt. Kenya’s support despite Uhuru Kenyatta abandoning him for Raila Odinga.
The claim by people like David Murathe that William Ruto will change the constitution with the objective of staying in power for more than 30 years is a claim based on the assumption that William Ruto will borrow from Museveni’s playbook. In 2005, Ugandan Parliament amended the constitution to remove the term limit that required a President to have a maximum of 2 five year terms in office. In 2017, the Ugandan constitution was again amended by parliament to remove the 75 years upper age limit beyond which a Ugandan could not vie for the presidency.
These dictatorial tendencies by Yoweri Museveni don’t appear to be part of William Ruto’s playbook. We know that four times William Ruto has opposed the attempts to amend Kenya’s constitution; the first time was when he joined Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga to oppose the Wako Draft in the infamous Orange movement, the second time was when he opposed the movement that gave birth to Kenya’s 2010 Constitution, the third time was when he opposed OKOA Kenya movement by Raila Odinga that attempted to amend the 2010 constitution, and the fourth time was when he opposed Building Bridges Initiative that was led by Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga.
Since Kenya’s 2010 constitution has been deemed one of the most progressive and democratic constitutions in the world today, particularly its stand on human rights, then whoever doesn’t want that constitution changed cannot be said to be a dictator. I also can’t say that William Ruto has any dictatorial tendencies given that those who have worked closely with him haven’t come out to accuse him of dictatorial commands.
William Ruto will be the most corrupt president Kenya has ever had
During the 2022 campaigns, Azimio branded William Ruto and his Kenya Kwanza brigade as corrupt thieves who should not be given a chance to lead this country. The branding of William Ruto as a corrupt thief is based on the fact that he was used by President Moi in the (YK’92), where he, Cyrus Jirongo, and others were funded by Moi to promote Kanu among the youth. His 2018 – 2022 campaign strategy that targeted churches and the youth with donations appears to have been borrowed directly from the YK’92 playbook.
Ruto again featured in corruption scandals in 2010 when he was suspended by then Prime Minister Raila Odinga over the maize scandal. The suspension was however overturned by now late President Kibaki. In Uhuru’s government, Deputy President William Ruto has been accused of being involved in scandals that have rocked several sectors, especially in energy, agriculture (further maize and fertilizer scandals), and irrigation (Arror and Kimwarer dams come to mind). Several Ruto allies have been arrested and presented before the courts over said scandals.
I am not scared over the potential of Ruto becoming a dictator, but I am scared over his potential of becoming the most corrupt president Kenya has ever had. This is because I truly believe that Ruto would like to work his way towards becoming another dynasty. He is currently a Kalenjin kingpin and I believe he would like to retain that status. For him to ensure that the likes of Gideon Moi don’t grab back the following he has obtained from Kalenjin, he must make sure he doesn’t run out of cash; and the only way to ensure that is for him to engage in massive corruption. In the same line of reasoning, William Ruto would also like to remain as the key figure in Mt. Kenya politics, at least until his preferred successor in 2032 has taken over the reins of power. Again, remaining in good books with Mt. Kenya politicians means he must never run out of handouts to give them.
The bottom-up economic model
The bottom-up economic model is one reason someone could be afraid of William Ruto. The proposal targets those at the very bottom of the economic ladder with grants and low-interest loans. “Why should state parastatals like Kenya Airways be bailed out over and again with billions of shillings yet our mama mbogas and bodabodas cannot access loans?” They asked during the campaigns.
The bottom-up economic model proposes to provide Kshs 50 billion to micro, small and medium businesses with low-interest loans through SACCOS and Cooperatives. If this promise sees the light of the day, then your typical fundi, bodaboda rider, hawker, and the roadside trader will have easy access to the low-interest loans that they can use to replenish stock or grow their businesses in some other ways.
The problems with the bottom-up proposal have been discussed in several places. My fear about the model is the potential ease with which many who don’t deserve to be given loans will have access to government money. I have always used this analogy whenever criticising the model to Ruto’s supporters. Suppose you have a few billion to spare, and you give a random thousand people at the bottom of the economic pyramid Kshs 1 million each, how many do you think will set up sustainable income-generating activities? 100 per cent? 80 per cent? My guestimate is less than 20 per cent. This is because research has shown that about 13 per cent of new businesses fail each year; and those that don’t fail hardly break even – leaving them with the potential to fail in the long term. Also, a significant number of those who receive the grants would use the grants to fulfil personal gratifications instead of using the money to invest in viable businesses.
This then implies that giving people money easily without considering security, and whether or not the person can guarantee proper utilization of the given money, will simply work to increase their disposable income without an equal increase in economic productivity. When such happens, inflation follows, then recession.
This bottom-up economic model has all the ingredients for economic mismanagement, and when that happens, especially with the expected magnitude of corruption that will grace William Ruto’s presidency, any sane person ought to be afraid.
So yes, be afraid of William Ruto.