Wednesday, November 5, 2008



By Jerry Okungu
Nairobi, Kenya
November 3, 2008

With each passing day, William Ruto is becoming more and more belligerent. He is slowly coming out of the closet to air his frustrations with the ODM, the coalition, the treasury and anything else he can lay his hands on. He is the new kid on the block with the bravado to challenge the system he is serving as a cabinet minister. He no longer thinks collective responsibility among cabinet ministers is a good idea.
If he is not blasting connivers and schemers against him within his party, he is training his guns on the treasury that doesn’t think his Agriculture ministry deserves more money than the military department.

All of a sudden, William Ruto has become a champion of the poor, the oppressed and the jobless youth. He has found new inspiration in the fight against poverty and inequality; unlike his two superiors who have found comfort in their new relationship.

Ruto has a special loathing for the Waki report which has driven him to the edge. For this reason, his realization that his boss Raila Odinga had supported the full implementation of the report amounted to a betrayal of the highest order and a stab on the back by a comrade in arms. According to him, the mayhem, murder, rape and displacement of thousands of non- Kalenjins in the Rift Valley was done in the name of Raila Odinga. Therefore, for better or for worse, Raila should be the last person to want to punish the community that stood by him and fought his war.

It is true the war cry at the time, at the height of the violent protest all over the country was “No Raila No Peace!” Back then, most of Kenya except Central and Eastern provinces believed that Raila Odinga had won the elections. However, despite this anger with the government machinery for robbing Raila Odinga of victory, the man never told anybody to kill, maim, rape and rob in his name. He never ordered non-Kalenjins to be removed from Rift Valley or any part of the country. That kind of order would have impacted negatively on the person who wanted to be the president of Kenya.
William Ruto is not alone in being upset with Raila Odinga. Most MPs from Rift Valley and Western Province seem to have an axe to grind with their Prime Minister.

The Rift Valley MPs have used every opportunity to vilify and discredit him right from the day the coalition government formed its first cabinet. A number of them who thought they deserved to be in that cabinet but missed have never forgiven Raila. Initially they used three bi-elections in Kipsigis part of Rift Valley to punish Raila Odinga’s ODM. They failed three times. Then they lurched onto the Mau Forest that Raila had promised to clear of settlers and restore the water catchment area.

As they struggled with the Mau Forest saga, Waki presented them with a convenient diversion. Now the song in Rift Valley is that Raila has used them to get his premiership and is about to dump them and watch as some of their leaders are rounded up for The Hague trials.

The question is; can Ruto and his kinsmen afford to decamp from ODM now if matters got worse? Can Raila Odinga let the Kalenjin MPs go away should they continue to nag him for all manner of reasons? Do they have enough disrespect for him to continue distracting him with their parochial issues? How many of these MPs would have been elected on a KANU ticket had they not joined ODM? Between these noisy MPs and Raila Odinga; who used who to get elected? How many of these characters are electable on their own? If the original Narc had held together in 2003 and chose to pursue these characters for their past misdeeds when they were in power for 24 years under Moi, where would some of them be today?

Most of these questions can only be answered appropriately by the very MPs from Rift Valley because they know better their recent history.

As for William Ruto; if he is a true leader of his people; if he truly thinks he can no longer serve in a cabinet of incompetent, visionless and self seeking leaders like Kibaki and Raila then the best laudable option is to resign at least from the cabinet. There are precedents to emulate.
Raila Odinga’s father did just that in 1966.Joseph Murumbi followed him a few months later. Kenneth Matiba and Mwai Kibaki followed the same path two decades later.
It is the honorable thing to do when you no longer believe in collective responsibility.