Tales of trouble in Kenya’s political paradise are grossly exaggerated, and in no way a reflection of the hanky-dory relations in government.
Deputy President William Ruto is still beaming like a Cheshire cat, relieved to be excused from matching the President’s shirt and tie at last week’s naming of the half Cabinet, as was the case in May 2013.
As the President’s heir apparent Mr Ruto is being put through the paces of measuring his temperament by subjecting him to stress tolerance tests in preparation for the big job.
There are those who hope to aggravate him into showing his true colours but he has a template in the conduct of former President Daniel arap Moi whose cloying Uriah Heep humility lasted 11 years when he was Number 2 to President Kenyatta I.
Mr Uhuru Kenyatta’s rock-star popularity, which saw him score 98.3 per cent of the vote in the repeat presidential election of October 26, 2017, has dimmed the prospects of internal revolt to near darkness.
Jubilee started the current political term with more votes than the 50 per cent needed to govern; and a super majority in both houses of the legislature and a commanding majority in the Council of Governors.
The wild popularity of government would not tempt a fool to rally rebellion against it whether or not the prices of kerosene, electricity or food went through the roof.
People who want to hug and kiss the government for the great comforts of life in Kenya are only prevented by difficulty of wrapping arms around it or performing other acts of intimacy.
Ugali, the maize meal staple of Kenyan tables, is no longer subsidised and farmers are smiling all the way to the bank as the maize market matures for reaping. There are thousands in slave jobs granted rest away from work for months as firms take a well deserved break from business, and overjoyed monkeys are tripping over electricity wires to save power.
Anyone who believes Mr Ruto should pick appointees to government who will help him secure the presidency through election would be coming to the party a little late.
With the benefit of hindsight, had Mr Ruto rigged Jubilee Party’s nominations last year to plant his sycophants in the National Assembly and Senate, he would be fearsome.
Mr Uhuru Kenyatta would be serving as president entirely at his deputy’s pleasure, oblivious of when the power plug would eject from the socket.
An impeachment motion at the midpoint of Mr Kenyatta’s second term would be one of the many options on the deputy president’s table, especially if there were crowds with pitchforks and slashers seeking to band with those demanding electoral justice.
None of the nightmare scenarios about the country becoming restive because of hunger, corruption, division and exclusion will pan out and Mr Kenyatta will be allowed to serve out the full length of his term, putting the final touches to his legacy.
Since Mr Ruto did not secure any numbers for himself in the National Assembly, in the Senate or the county assemblies, he has no choice but offer Mr Kenyatta his full and undivided loyalty. His position is more precarious because his people are not populating powerful independent offices in the Judicial Service Commission to pick the next Chief Justice; or the directorate of public prosecutions.
These tests are useful for the country to gauge if Mr Ruto has enough humility to follow without question, the selflessness to support without expecting reward and the patience to suffer without complaining.
The writer is a Programme Advisor, Journalists for Justice. The views expressed here are his own and do not reflect those of JFJ. [email protected]