The time has come for prosecutors to arrest and arraign Deputy President William Ruto and, via due process, separate the political from the criminal; fact from fiction; truth from malice; and manipulation from honest effort. Why?
The politics, now and in future, has been rendered toxic by accusations that Kenya’s second in command is mired in grand corruption. The counter-accusation is that the public moves against the DP are political and tribal. Due process, then, presents the only impartial arbitration.
Public humiliation and shaming, while a potent political weapon, is no dispenser of justice. Those on whom opprobrium is wreaked usually have fallen out of favour in power battles in smoke-filled rooms and it is intended that the public will similarly reject them.
Public humiliation and shaming is currently the weapon of choice menacing and savaging Dr Ruto, who has seemingly fallen out with President Kenyatta with whom at one time it appeared he was co-President.
However, anti-DP attacks have been countered as loudly or more devastatingly and the continuing fight risks a conflagration that could consume protagonists and innocents alike. The preferred line of attack is that Dr Ruto partakes in the cup of graft and is, therefore, unfit to succeed President Kenyatta. One, this has created an aisle in the governing Jubilee Party and roils both sides of it.
Two, it has poisoned the politics of the land, soiled the Presidency and slowed down attempts to trumpet last year’s rapprochement between President Kenyatta and Mr Raila Odinga as uniting a country divided by the two presidential polls of 2017.
Three, as a sign of good faith and confirmation, there is war against corruption, accusations against Dr Ruto need to be shown to be backed by painstakingly gathered evidence geared to sustaining prosecution. It is critical that it is shown that the anti-graft war is not political manoeuvring.
Four, if the DP is arraigned what has been alleged against him will be subjected to judicial scrutiny. Politicians are guilty of peddling half-truths and untruths to score propaganda points.
Five, in the courts the cloud of thievery by servant hanging over the Presidency will be cleared and government’s reputation salvaged by either conviction or acquittal.
Six, arraignment will be in order because the lifestyle audit the President promised last year has not materialised yet vilification of the DP, often presented as gospel truth, continues apace.
Seven, in a court of law the DP can expect a fair process and avenue to make his case whereas the political arena is a veritable shark pool. While Dr Ruto has lost the war in the court of public opinion, crime is tried and judged by judicial process.
Eight, if Dr Ruto is arraigned, Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho will have no reason to roam Kenya spewing vitriol and sowing hatred while burying his flat gubernatorial performance. The matter will be sub-judice, forcing him to consider productive work on behalf of Mombasans. Last, while to be accused of corruption plays well in the court of public opinion, the DP’s case has long been an open and festering wound on government’s face. It was Mr Odinga as opposition ace who first branded Dr Ruto the high priest of corruption in 2015.
In 2018 Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua asked President Kenyatta not to relent in his war against corruption but, more importantly, turn the searchlight on his inner circle.
In Machakos over a week ago Mr David Murathe, who is President Kenyatta’s friend, mockingly asked why somebody (the DP) was at a corruption seminar sanctioned to discuss him (Dr Ruto).
And trade union supremo Francis Atwoli unrelentingly characterises Dr Ruto as unfit to be president because he is scandal-tarred, a broker, greedy and neck-deep in corruption.
A fortnight ago Mr Joho, who says he has been tasked by Mr Odinga to demonise Dr Ruto, told Abaluhya that at the Coast, home of the plain-spoken, the name for a thief is thief.
Indeed! It was Mr Joho who, during the 2017 General Election campaigns, compared Jubilee to a bus whose driver (President Kenyatta) was drunk and the conductor (the DP) a thief!
Now Mr Joho sings Mr Kenyatta’s praises but the President and Deputy have since 2013 linked him to narco-trafficking. That’s one more reason why courts, and not politicians, court of law, not of public opinion, should charge and try the DP.
But it is highly unlikely the drip feed of accusations and innuendo against Dr Ruto will run out soon. Yes, that’s politics.