BILL RUTO: THE MODERN DAY KENYAN JOSEPH GOEBBELS
By Gitobu Imanyara & Miguna Miguna, MARCH 29, 2010
However, unlike Goebbels who had a Ph.D. in romantic drama, and therefore a firm foundation for his devious anti-Semitic political acrobatic performances, Bill’s background is in elementary zoology, botany and expertise in Kanu youth-wing matters. It partly explains why Goebbels excelled, to a point, while Bill’s propaganda machine has been imperiled from inception.
From all available evidence, Bill appears to have adopted Goebbels’ most popular strategy in propping up despotism; the “Big Lie” technique of propaganda, which is based on the principle that a lie, if audacious enough and repeated enough times, will be believed by the masses.
He is naturally attracted to Machiavelli’s dictum to unpopular leaders: “the end justifies the means.” At its most simplistic, it means that “it does not matter how immoral, unjust, unfair, brutal or illogical a leader is, as long as he gets what he wants; everything else is secondary.” This seems to cohere with Bill Ruto’s cardinal rule in politics. It might even be his philosophy in life.
Bill’s antics suggest that he subscribes to the notion that “politics have no relation to morals.” Fortunately, for all his recent efforts and creativity at political reincarnation, Bill’s mastery of Goebbels’ strategies still ranks at the toddler level; promising but uncertain. His knowledge of Machiavelli is certainly indeterminate.
According to media reports, Bill is on a roll, stomping and waxing lyrical about everything, particularly his love-hate relationship with the Prime Minister. A few months ago, Bill accused the PM of neglecting the Kalenjin youth who had either been arrested or killed during the post election violence.
The PM took up Bill’s challenge and directed the Attorney-General and the police to investigate the allegations about the missing youth. However, when asked to produce a list of those missing so that proper investigations could be conducted, Bill refused to cooperate; instead, he jumped onto another pet topic: the fate of those named in the Waki report. To date, Bill has failed to produce a list of those he claims are missing; neither has he himself taken up this matter with his “powerful friends” on the other side of the coalition. We are not even mentioning his legendary waffling about the roles of the Special Tribunal and the ICC.
The question is why? Is Bill misusing the fate of the “missing” youth for parochial political gains? Is he invoking the names of innocent victims of state brutality to win sympathy and undeserved attention?
Now, for those who don’t know or can’t remember, Bill was the self-ordained Captain of the ODM mediation team at Serena; the team that was instrumental in establishing the Waki Commission. Apart from setting up the Commission, the team also committed both Principals and their respective parties to full implementation of its recommendations, as part of Agenda 4 reforms. The PM was neither a member of the Serena Team nor of the Waki Commission. Is Bill trying to run away from his baby and the responsibilities flowing therefrom?
Although the Mau restoration exercise was conceived and given leadership by the PM, it was approved by both the cabinet and parliament. Bill boasts of being a prominent member of both institutions of government. Can he tell Kenyans when or how he raised objections to the exercise (within government), on what grounds and with what results before he continues railing against the PM? Or is Bill desperate to blame the PM for his failures?
Bill says he supports the Mau restoration but is only concerned about the manner of “evictions.” What he doesn’t say is that he is mainly opposed to the eviction of large land owners; the oligarchs of Mau. When the poor peasants left Mau a few months ago – they were not evicted - Bill promised them land and shelter. He even presided over a “huge” fund raiser at the Panafric Hotel in Nairobi. We all saw it on TV with Bill & Co breathing fire and promising a revolution. Predictably, like Bill’s many threats and promises, both never materialized.
What many are asking is: what happened to the millions of shillings that Bill claimed he collected for the “evictees”? How about the land and shelter he promised? Why hasn’t Bill asked his rich friends to donate even 1000 acres to settle those who were deceived to settle inside the forest while their ancestral land was being taken over by the same royalties, oligarchs and aristocrats? Or is Bill using the poor peasants as political fodder in his imaginary war with the PM? Between Bill and his political tour guides, 500 acres would not be too much of a burden; would it? Why hasn’t Bill donated even 100 acres to people he claimed he cares about?
According to media reports, Bill also claims that he disagreed with the PM over the formation of the ODM cabinet. He cunningly omits to say what the disagreement was about. Could it be that Bill wanted to be the Deputy Prime Minister? Or was he interested in controlling more than the formidable agriculture ministry? What exactly is Bill’s beef?
Bill knows that during the ODM presidential nominations, he was a distant third after Musalia Mudavadi, and that on the basis of Mudavadi’s performance, the latter was chosen to be the PM’s running mate for the 2007 elections. Consequently, when the coalition government was established, Mudavadi naturally was the choice for DPM. Why is Bill trying to reap where he did not sow?
Bill says, correctly, that the PM got lots of votes from the Kalenjin in 2007, as he did from all over the country. A careful examination of the 2007 presidential election results disclose that the PM received millions of votes from virtually all communities of Kenya, except from Central and Eastern provinces. Millions of voters from Western, Nairobi, Coast, Nyanza, Rift Valley and North Eastern Provinces voted for Raila Odinga. Indeed, unconfirmed reports suggest that Raila received considerably higher votes than was officially acknowledged from both Central and Eastern provinces and will most probably do so again. Out of 20 ODM ministries, the PM gave 5 slots to the Kalenjin; most of them plum dockets like roads, industrialization and agriculture. Many assistant ministers and senior government officials were also appointed from the area.
Why is Ruto trying to turn the PM into a sectarian leader? If Ruto were to become President, is he telling Kenyans that he will favour only those who support him and those who come from his area?
Bill knows that the PM, although an ODM leader, is responsible for all Kenyans, including those that didn’t vote for him. The PM took an oath to serve all Kenyans without discrimination. Needless to say, Bill’s charge is unproven and false.
In his essay “Advice to a Dictator and for Those Who Want to Become One” – which Bill might not have read or understood - Goebbels stated that: “A dictatorship requires three things: a man, an idea, and a following ready to live for the man and the idea, and if necessary to die for them. If the man is lacking it is hopeless; if the idea is lacking, it is impossible; if the following is missing, the dictatorship is only a bad joke.”
Bill is a quintessential performer, but he is certainly lacking in all Goebbels’ three prerequisites. Subconsciously, Bill subscribes to Machiavelli’s teaching that “a prince never lacks legitimate reasons to break his promise.” That’s why he is waffling over the constitution. Before and after the Naivasha retreat, ODM, except Bill, stood firmly on a parliamentary system of government, with well structured three-tier devolution of power and resources. Yet Bill broke ranks with his party and fervently pushed for the creation of an imperial presidency without devolution, checks or balances. He called the imperial presidency the “Naivasha Accord;” an unholy alliance between Bill and Uhuru Kenyatta elements within the coalition.
When most Kenyans and constitutional scholars cried foul over the Naivasha Accord, Bill and his PNU collaborators accused them of being hard-liners that were not willing to “give and take.” When Bill was reminded that ODM’s position was that a pure presidential system was only acceptable if it was integrated within a well-structured and functioning three-tier devolution, with proper checks and balances; Bill threw up a tantrum and threatened to leave ODM for the KKK alliance. Bill claimed that he wasn’t convinced of the role and functions of the regional level of government and could not therefore support a three-tier devolution system of governance.
It is only after Bill’s Rift Valley constituency revolted against his betrayal that he has now reincarnated as a devolution salesman. But does Bill understand what he purports to be selling? Is he committed to devolution? Why didn’t he root for devolution in Naivasha where ODM had a chance? Or is he like Machiavelli’s prince; looking for another promise to break?
One thing we freely give Bill is that he is a promising pupil of Joseph Goebbels. Being a late entrant in the murky and complicated area of modern political propaganda, Bill has done extremely well. His earlier occupation as a Kanu youth winger and member of the orange choir, notwithstanding, Bill’s political acrobatic achievements are marvelous when one considers that he joined politics after graduating with a double major in botany and zoology; two fields not known to nurture prolific political acrobats.
But as pettiness and parochialism goes, Bill is in a league of his own: pugnacious and agile, especially when he is down and dirty with the PM. Not surprisingly, Bill is teary-eyed around State House or anything that resembles the trappings of power. It explains why he supported Baba-na-Mama party, the Uhuru Project and now is circling what seems to him like a Project-Sequel. Indeed, it was the same reason why Bill supported the Raila juggernaut in 2007. Bill saw an opportunity he could not ignore. As long as Bill is guaranteed space within the precincts of the Big House, he will croon, dance and jump. As long as power or its illusion is perceived to beckon, Bill will play the trumpet.
We understand that Bill is planning to hold several rallies in the Rift Valley to “regain total control of the province” and warn the people against Raila. The question Rift Valley residents should ask him are these: why is he engaged in premature campaigns instead of development? Why should Raila be his pet topic rather than Ruto’s vision and programs for the people? Is he running for president or he is a campaign manager of Project-Sequel? And lastly, are Rift Valley residents a bag of potatoes for Bill’s total control?
It is a tough learning curve for Bill. At least Machiavelli taught his pupils that for their strategies to be effective, the leaders had to be completely believable and trusted by the people. How many Kenyans out there believe and trust Bill?
Bill knows his fate when Kenyans are asked to choose between him and the PM. Perhaps that explains his suicidal political odyssey. Because Bill is determined to hasten his appointment with fate, Kenyans are eagerly waiting to teach him one Machiavellian lesson he might be unaware of: “When you disarm the people, you commence to offend them and show that you distrust them either through cowardice or lack of confidence, and both these opinions generate hatred.” And when the people hate you, there will be nowhere to hide.
Hon. Gitobu Imanyara is the MP for Imenti Central;Mr. Miguna is the PM’s Adviser, Coalition Affairs and Joint Secretary to the Permanent Committee on the Management of Grand Coalition Affairs. The views expressed here are their own.