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Wednesday, July 6, 2011
William Ruto is a spoilt brat who has no right to be in Cabinet
TUESDAY, 05 JULY 2011 00:20 BY MIGUNA MIGUNA
William Ruto is a spoilt brat with a laser sharp tongue. He is also a cry baby. In another life, he would have made an excellent second-hand car salesman. Ruto changes colour more frequently and far better than a chameleon. At university, he sang his lungs out at the Christian Union Choir. That’s before he discovered that such talent was cherished by the Moi-Kanu dictatorship.
Turning his vocal cords to the Kanu tingiza song, Ruto became a choirmaster. Together with other YK’92 goons, he cultivated a reputation as a ruthlessly efficient operator. Whether it was mobilizing for the 1988 mlolongo farcical elections or using the crisp Sh500 notes, Ruto proved to be a cut above the rest.
In the process, he made loads of millions without breaking a sweat. Using such means in North America would have easily landed someone in jail. But this is Kenya. So, Ruto quickly graduated into national politics. The YK’92 skills he perfected, the millions he minted and political connections certainly paid off. He quickly scaled the heights of power and became a cabinet minister. He then felt entitled.
Many have credited Ruto’s sharp and forked tongue for the steep rise. Others have said it is due to the efficient ruthlessness and chameleon traits. Recently, the unhinged tongue has been doing battle with all kinds of imaginary enemies: Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the ICC, the Kenya National Human Rights Commission, Hassan Omar, Justice Philip Waki, Kofi Annan, Raila Odinga, ODM – name it.
It’s difficult to determine the precise nature of Ruto’s ‘grievances’. His allegations tend to shift depending on the environment and audience. The local press gives acres of coverage to Ruto. Some say he ‘buys’ coverage. While I can’t confirm or deny those claims, it is true that the Kenyan press follow Ruto’s antics with an unprecedented keenness. It’s probably because controversy sells.
Recently, a major newspaper reported that Ruto had written to the President, demanding reappointment into the cabinet. He claimed that he had been suspended due to a criminal case that had ended in his ‘acquittal’. And because ‘he has no outstanding criminal cases before the courts’, he deserves to be reappointed into cabinet. The letter was copied to the Prime Minister. Predictably, Keriako Tobiko and Amos Wako have ‘confirmed’ that ‘Ruto faces no criminal charges’.
That’s deceptive. Ruto was acquitted primarily because he had given a job to a star prosecution witness. The witness ‘decided’ not to testify against Ruto. In functioning judicial systems, Ruto and the witness would have been promptly charged with obstruction.
Not surprisingly, Tobiko, Wako and Ruto conveniently omitted to mention the serious charges Ruto is facing at the ICC. Apparently, to them, the ICC isn’t a court. They don’t consider mass murder, torture, rape and displacement of civilians ‘criminal’ in nature. The trio thinks the ICC proceedings are ‘wedding processions’ that lead directly to Ruto’s and Uhuru Kenyatta’s joint ‘coronation’ in 2012. It’s difficult to understand how two people would become president in one election; not unless they are planning something sinister!
Such thoughts are only possible in failed or narco-states.
Ruto remains an ODM MP. But you wouldn’t know that from the way he speaks and acts. He votes against ODM positions in parliament. He publicly and regularly attacks his party leader. He has repeatedly declared to have decamped to UDM, whose interests he is busy promoting while undermining ODM. Ruto has also announced that he is recruiting new members for UDM even though there is pending court case over the party ‘ownership’. That’s contempt of court. In any other democracy, Ruto would no longer be an MP; leave alone demanding to returned to cabinet.
He knows that the Political Parties Act and the Constitution don’t allow him to be in two political parties at the same time. If he has joined or ‘taken over’ the UDM as many newspapers have reported, the law requires him to resign from ODM and forfeit his parliamentary seat. Because he has refused to resign, the Registrar of Political Parties should petition the Speaker of the National Assembly to declare the Eldoret North seat vacant. In other words, Ruto ceased being an MP from the moment he started promoting the interests and principles of a political party other than the one that sponsored him to parliament.
This is not about Ruto’s freedom of association. It is about the principles of multiparty democracy, the rule of law and constitutionalism. The Constitution guarantees everyone freedom of expression and association, provided that they don’t violate the Constitution. Our freedoms are not unfettered. We aren’t allowed to belong to more than one political party at the same time. Although we are allowed to change parties, there are rules governing how and when that may occur. One is required to have been a member of a party at least six months prior to elections. Similarly, the Constitution bars ‘appointed state officers’ from participating in active electoral politics. These rules guarantee order, discipline and stability in a democracy.
Ruto was appointed a cabinet minister by Raila Odinga. He is aware that the National Accord does not give the President power to appoint, shuffle, replace or reappoint ministers for the PM. Constitutionally, the President can only appoint, suspend, shuffle or dismiss PNU ministers. Similarly, the PM can only appoint, suspend, shuffle or dismiss ODM ministers. The cabinet isn’t Ruto’s birth right. He cannot demand to be in cabinet. Nor can he claim like he has ridiculously done that there would be no hunger in Kenya if he was the minister for agriculture. He isn’t more qualified or more competent than Dr. Sally Kosgei.
The country needs reminding that this is a grand coalition government and neither party nor principal can govern alone without the other. And that includes all new appointments under the Constitution!
The writer is the Prime Minister’s advisor for coalition affairs. The views expressed here are his own