Wednesday, October 15, 2008



OCTOBER 13 2008

By Macharia Gaitho

Proposed move aims to disenfranchise Kenyans

AGRICULTURE MINISTER William Ruto’s proposal for a new system in which the president is elected by Parliament is not just based on naivety or ignorance. It is pure mischief, and very a dangerous threat for the cornerstone of our democracy has always been election of a president by the people.

From the time Kenya became a Republic in 1964 when Mzee Jomo Kenyatta assumed the presidency, citizens have had the constitutional right to directly vote for their head of state and government. Maybe the rights have often been violated; but the abortion of democracy during the Kenyatta and Moi regimes – from the days of ‘‘unopposed’’ presidential election on to the enactment of single-party rule – did not take away the entrenched constitutional right.

The multi-party campaign was waged through blood, sweat and tears so that Kenyans could regain those inalienable rights to choose their leaders. It was not just about the right to belong to a political party of choice or to vote for a party of choice, but ultimately to vote directly and determine which person gets the onerous responsibility of Group Kenya Chief Executive Officer.

This is not a right and responsibility to be trifled with. What Mr Ruto is proposing is that that sacred duty be taken away from you, me and every other Kenyan, and given to him and some 221 other individuals. The proposal aims to disenfranchise Kenyans and hand over the right to elect a president to some exclusive little members’ club.

Now, this is not to show disrespect to the institution of Parliament, but the fact is our parliamentarians have demonstrated time and time again that they cannot be trusted with power. If they are given the sole right to determine who becomes president, then they will be no better than the Somali pirates on the Indian Ocean who make a living from ransom paid to secure freedom for hijacked ships.

Our MPs have already become notorious for immorally voting themselves packages that make them the best-paid legislators in the world. If they are given the right to determine who gets to occupy State House, they will increase their ill-gotten wealth tenfold. Parliament will become a loud market, a veritable Gikomba auction house where the presidency will be on sale, not just in five-year election cycles, but permanently throughout the year.

It is notable, in fact, that Mr Ruto cited South Africa as an example. If the system he proposes is adopted, Kenyans could see a president forced out mid-term by his political party or by Parliament. What happened in South Africa was a travesty.
President Thabo Mbeki was forced to relinquish his seat, not because he was guilty of some impeachable offence, but simply because his chief rival, Jacob Zuma, took control of the majority ANC and wanted to teach him a lesson.


Submitted by Wanjiku98
Posted October 14, 2008 11:08 PM

jaukakathevillager, you sound like a stealing priest who when caught cautions the faithfuls againist judging him. I did not say that Ruto is full of blood. I simply said his constituency was the worst hit by the clashes. He should solve that first. Neither did i say anyone is inferior unless they feel that way. You are as inferior as you feel. Chant on about inferiority and superiority. Excuse me.

Submitted by kiambidm
Posted October 14, 2008 08:40 PM

Thank you. Kenyans should not allow corrupt lowbrows with ill-gotten money to literally buy their way to the presidency. It is dangerous for Kenya and democracy.

Submitted by bialosni
Posted October 14, 2008 07:49 PM

Rutto has a constitutional right just like any other Kenyan to speak his mind. To suggest that parliament elect the president is neither stupid, naïve or dangerous. Indeed what is practiced in majority of the democracies across the world. Those who do not understand what parliamentary system entails should seek advice instead of pouring uneducated opinion in the media. Since the so called hybrid system has failed us we have to choose between the presidential system or parliamentary/cabinet system with all their shortcomings. We cannot have our cake and eat it.

Submitted by Kibutu Kiiru
Posted October 14, 2008 06:33 PM

Something things are better unsaid. Kenyans are yet to heal from what they experienced at the beginning of the year and especially in Ruto's constituency. If Ruto is never haunted by this, then he remains with very few if any elements of human virtues. He was just a young loyalist feeding on the royal crumbs when the fight for multi-party system was on. He cannot understand what people underwent. Hon. Ruto work hard in the ministry and help your constituents heal. God should put you on the Damascus road like he did to Saul.

Submitted by tintins
Posted October 14, 2008 06:22 PM

Ruto is serious and i understand him. If i could determine my salary and allowances i would have his courage.I want to propose one, just one Kenyan, who is willing to run for an elective presidency and is willing to cut the mp's salaries to come up now.Just like Obama is beating odds, a new direction is what we need.hope is what kenyans need.Mr Gaitho save the space and devote this column for that search. You'll have served your country better. where is your patriotism when you spread their vernom.God save Kenya.

Submitted by jaukakathevillager
Posted October 14, 2008 05:12 PM

Wanjiku, Unforgiving spirit and the spirit of murder are the same.Whether Ruto's hands are full of blood or not is not a big deal.The big deal is whether Kenyans are ready to forgive each other and coexist peacefully.The law was made for man, not man for law.All tribes have an inalienable right to stay in KENYA and to have a say on the affairs of this beautiful bloodstained nation.No tribe is superior or inferior jowa!

Submitted by Wanjiku98
Posted October 14, 2008 04:32 PM

Ruto, You got alot of money, you got power to summon mps in RV in your mother tongue, you got a ministry and you have five seconds of fame courtesy of the press. What else don't you have?. Think about the blood soaked Eldoret North and get off our backs.Your constituency is as red as crimson. We reserve the right to elected all of you.

Submitted by sumimasen
Posted October 14, 2008 04:29 PM

Mr. Gaitho am a little baffled by the tone and anger of your analysis of Hon Rutos sugestion. The country may most likely very soon go on a referendum on weather we adopt parliamentary or presidential system. In this circumstances what really is naive or ignorant about Rutos suggestion ?President Kenyatta you refer to was first a PM under a queen, instead of replacing the queen with a president elected along the lines of what ruto is suggesting he decided to be both , the effect, Kenya almost went under last year.

Submitted by SJ502
Posted October 14, 2008 04:21 PM

Easier to manipulate 200 than 5 Million plus voters. This is what constitutes genius in my country. Why the media even bothers to cover such mediocrity is a mystery. It’s the kind of cheap debate primary school kids engage in during a hot afternoon when the teacher calls off to go pick-up a cheque.

Submitted by arwaclem
Posted October 14, 2008 04:15 PM

Hon Ruto merely made his own proposition and those vilifying him are missing the point,4 mr Gaitho's claims are quite incongruous!, You cant claim that our MPs cannot be trusted with power and we continue to elect them to represent us. In any case what trust can you put on voters with their votes and empty stomachs? We should always be prepared to change and move with ‘Cheese’. Otherwise the now popular phrase of “I don’t Know /can’t tell who won “ will continue for God knows how long!

Submitted by iawe
Posted October 14, 2008 03:55 PM

jassheme, you ask 'who voted for the current tenant at the house on hill?' The answer is I did together with the millions of other Kenyans. As for Ruto's mischevious statement, I wish to repeat what I said yesterday that he must stop running his mouth and instead concentate on ensuring that his ministry is formulating appropriate food policies for Kenya. The business of electing the president is OURS the PEOPLE. Tutu in SA has also called for south africans to given the opportunity to elect their president.

Submitted by gathoni
Posted October 14, 2008 03:32 PM

Ruto is what i´d call a complete lowbrow, all our "leaders"included and despite the fact that most are learned - jassaya there´s nothing positive in Ruto´s statement. We need humane, patriotic, law respecting, civilized leaders...the ones we choose are none of these.

Submitted by Benmwa
Posted October 14, 2008 02:01 PM

I used to love Mr. Ruto for evrything that he did when he was in KANU. Late, the love started diminishing when he started portraying his greed for power. Today, with every mention of his name, I see a greedy man who would go to any extremes just to have what he wanted. The likes of Ruto are what we do not need in this country, let alone in the cabnet if Kenyan politics is to ever be respected.

Submitted by jassayya
Posted October 14, 2008 01:54 PM

Mr. Gaitho, why is Ruto's perspective 'dangerous'? Is it simply because it is said by Ruto or is it because it does not make sense? In my view, the Presidency in Kenya is too expensive for a poor nation like ours to afford - and it epitomises greed, tribal hegemony and corruption. If this is democracy,then I dont want it. I struggle to find anything positive that any of the 3 Kenyan Presidents so far has done to Kenyans. We must redefine what this term 'democracy' means because it hasnt worked - at least not through an all-mighty presidency

Submitted by jassayya
Posted October 14, 2008 01:54 PM

Mr. Gaitho, why is Ruto's perspective 'dangerous'? Is it simply because it is said by Ruto or is it because it does not make sense? In my view, the Presidency in Kenya is too expensive for a poor nation like ours to afford - and it epitomises greed, tribal hegemony and corruption. If this is democracy,then I dont want it. I struggle to find anything positive that any of the 3 Kenyan Presidents so far has done to Kenyans. We must redefine what this term 'democracy' means because it hasnt worked - at least not through an all-mighty presidency

Submitted by scanfish
Posted October 14, 2008 01:25 PM

What is the sense in MPs electing a President? Why not just have an Executive Prime Minister as head of Govt appointed from the party with most MPs? However, for this to happen, you must have equitable representation in Parliamentary seats unlike the case now where some constituencies have 10000 voters while others have from 80000 to 250000. Democracy is one man, one vote and this must be applied, not one man 10 votes like in some RV ODM zones.

Submitted by quak
Posted October 14, 2008 12:26 PM

We can endure the greed and vices of one individual (the president). But when these vices unite in those we chose to represent us, then all is lost. Better presidential tyranny than the imbecility of parliament, for one represents the darkness of one mans soul, whereas the the other represents the moral and spiritual death of us all.

Submitted by MUINGAH
Posted October 14, 2008 11:18 AM

I wonder why can't our leaders be original? Why propose to us other systems of which some are dangerous and politically unhealthy like the South African one where revenge finds it way to the top leadership of the country unabated. I think a system where the top leader be it a president or premier with controlled powers (by the parliament and an independent judiciary) would be adequate for Kenya and Kenyans at large. Ruto should be honest with himself and Kenyans.

Submitted by stevendungu
Posted October 14, 2008 11:09 AM

mr Rutos' greedy arithemetics are based on what and how he managed to become a minister together with other ODM fellows; ie through blood shed and loss of properties, he have since realised that not even Raila can be used to climb up there, it is the will of God through people of Kenya--Shame on you Ruto!

Submitted by Joseph_A
Posted October 14, 2008 10:56 AM

Its realy boring to hear time and again that our MPs are money-hungry, power-hungry and all sort of cynical descriptions...pray why do Kenyans elect such learders? Mr. Gaitho your write up is full of insinuations and innuendos against Zuma. Give the guy a break. OK. Who elecetd Kenyatta to be President of Kenya in 1964? Talking of democracy? Who won 2007 elections if you think there was a winner? If you think you are perfect why cant you run for a parliamentary seat so that an example of a good MP can for once be seen?,

Submitted by Chepslei
Posted October 14, 2008 10:36 AM

Rutto is very serious,there is no meaning of us voting"exercising our rights" and at the end the electoral body says it is not sure who is the winner. The better is to give the mandate to the mps as there will be less rigging and tribalism as experienced in the 2007 general elections. Otherwise we will always be fighting in the name of exercising your voting right.

Submitted by muteule
Posted October 14, 2008 10:30 AM

Pray tell. What difference is there between your typical Kenyan voter and your typical MP? Both are bigoted and venal. No election for president occurs in Kenya, what you have is 'civil war carried ou t by other means.' Let us allow Ruto and others to share their views freely. We are biased. The GEMA elite have an interest in a form of government that taps into their large electorate.

Submitted by wanjohij
Posted October 14, 2008 09:31 AM

Like any other kenyan Ruto has a constitutional right to speak out his views, However, on this particular issue, Ruto has left many people surprised and even questioning his credibility as a leader! its crazy to imagine that Ruto wants the rights to vote a president by almost 15 million people reduced to 222 people!! Maybe the allegations about Rutos involvent in rift valley violence early this year could be true, with this kind of comments he can do anything!!

Submitted by kiambidm
Posted October 14, 2008 09:17 AM

Thanks, Gaitho. You put it lucidly. Kenya: Zero step forward, 10 backwards We cannot allow the world's headlines to read this way about Kenya.

Submitted by agosi
Posted October 14, 2008 08:58 AM

Well, Jasheme sums it up simply and clearly. Need we say more?

Submitted by Hillaryio
Posted October 14, 2008 07:35 AM

Did he just hav a nightmare and decided to go and talk trash, or is this what he has been discussing all along with his ODM buddies? Does he really know what he is talking about? This is not naivety, it is way beyond naivety. I hope his political advisors are not the same guys taking care of his cattles in his stolen farms. You think we forgot what you did when you were the secretary general of Kanu during those days? Stop seeing things, Mr. Ruto and take care of Agriculture!

Submitted by scanfish
Posted October 14, 2008 07:12 AM

Ruto's proposal is the same daft nonsense that derailed the Bomas Draft and will never see the light of day, so why propose it now? I suspect it is meant to derail Kalonzo Musyoka's Presidential ambitions after belatedly realising that Kalonzo, with the backing of PNU, may have the numbers to ascend to the Presidency, especially now that Raila is not guaranteed to have the same support he got from ODM in 2007. They will not also not accept to have constituency boundary review as this would advantage Central Kenya, a vital cog in Kalonzo's alliance.

Submitted by kodero
Posted October 14, 2008 06:45 AM

All options should be on the table as we craft a new constitution. What is clear is direct presidential elections has not served Kenya well in the past. Is this reasonable and sufficient ground to change it? What are the short, medium and longer term implications to our emerging democracy and to the republic? What would be an appropriate legitimate method of identifying the president as we move forward towards political federation in the EAC?

Submitted by GitaaNyasani
Posted October 14, 2008 02:45 AM

Democracy as I understand it is the rule by (majority) the people. The people exercise their power directly by electing their leaders (presidential system) or through their agents who assemble (parliament) to carry out the will of the people. Broadly speaking, democracy constitutes of elements like diversity (pluralism), conducting elections under a free and fair electoral system, limiting the powers of a government while ensuring that the rights of the citizens and of the minority are guaranteed. Whether any parliament really pursues the will of the people is a question for debate.

Submitted by jasheme
Posted October 14, 2008 02:28 AM

Hey man,relax! You rant and rave as if Ruto has committed treason. When you condemn MPs for their greed, (and indeed they are greedy) just remember that the president is one of them. As for ODMs preference for the presidential system, you are being typical selectively amnesic. Just go and read the submissions made by the DP chairman to the Ghai constitutional review team in 2002 and the system of government 'Krnyans' would have preferred. And while we are at it, who elected the current tenant at the house on the hill?

Submitted by Jossseph
Posted October 14, 2008 12:36 AM

Who elected people like William Ruto to parliament? My God! those people obviously did not know what kind of person he is or maybe they knew and didn't care. He obviously knows he will never be voted for the presidency and thats why he is trying to use the back door to the top seat, ngumu!

Submitted by obelix27
Posted October 14, 2008 12:33 AM

Mr. Ruto must have been in a deep trance, or just plain stupid! Who is he again? Where did he go to school? and most importantly, what century is he living in? Mr. Ruto, a word of advise, during one of your dreams, you should summon the gods to reveal to you something called "contitutional law process" I really do hate ignorance! People like Mr. Ruto keep taking Kenya two steps back every minute, Oh! pliz Lord, don't ever let Ruto mess around with the Kenyan constitution.