Why DP Ruto’s threat to crush opponents a head of 2022 rekindles painful memories Kenyans want to forget

Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru (left) and Deputy President William Ruto share a light moment on Saturday, December 1, 2018. Mr Ruto fired a warning shot to his opponents, saying he will not let to interfere with government projects. PHOTO | GRACE GITAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP


By Nixon Kavai

A statement last week by Deputy President William Ruto to the effect that he will crash any opponent obstructing his way to achieving Jubilee Party goals, including the party’s 2022 Presidential succession, in his favor, should worry all of us.

Although his supporters, spin-doctors and public relations minders will try hard to sanitize those words as harmless, and merely used metaphorically, the actual Kiswahili words he used and never bothered to clarify: “mtu yeyote ambaye atakuja katikati yangu namipangilioya Jubilee kuelekea 2022, mimi nitapita nayeye”; are a chilling threat to DESTROY his and Jubilee opponents now and during Uhuru succession proper in 2022.

Let us call a spade a spade. Even in our normal football analogies Kenyan leaders like using to spice up political messaging, “kupita na mtu” has always meant injuring and maiming opponents to force one’s way to score. Such goals are prohibited and promptly disallowed. Yet here is our DP, a 2022 front-runner declaring publicly his resolve to dishonestly pursue victory!  Kenyans have a big reason to be on the look-out.

Note that the history of regime change in Kenya since colonial days has been written in human blood and punctuated in painful deaths mostly engineered by key players in the status-quo terrorizing opponents to force submission and surrender. That history powerfully echoes in our minds whenever an incumbent regime’s lynchpin like the DP emits such intimidations during such a season of rising Presidential succession turns and twists.

It happened during Kenya’s freedom struggle that climaxed with the Mau Mau uprising. Kenyans wanted regime change from Colonial rule to Kenya African self-rule. The prising was preceded by heinous assassinations of legitimate and frank anti-colonialism crusaders like Koitalel Arap Samoei, Mekatilili Wa Menza, Chief Waiyaki wa Hinga, Chief Nyamaterere while others were imprisoned on trumped up charges. During the Mau Mau war itself many were massacred and it ended with the unjustified hanging of Freedom fighters led by Field Marshall Dedan Kimathi who had led brave freedom fighters to stand up against modern British military troops and Air force Bombs rained on innocents. But Kenyans prevailed; and we won our independence in the evening of 1963.

Come the first regime change in independent Kenya: The Jomo Kenyatta Succession; and we all recall the malicious assassinations and detentions without trial of genuine, well-meaning opponents of the status quo mandarins.  The assassinations of one time foreign affairs minister Argwings Kodhek (1966), broad-day gunning down on a Nairobi street  of then Economic Planning Minister Thomas Joseph Mboya (1969) and the horrifying butchery  of maverick pro-mwananchi Nyandarua East MP Josiah Mwangi Kariuki (1975) have remained a major blemish on our national politics. By mere happenstance, these evil assassinations gave room to Daniel Arap Moi’s acceding to the Presidency in the second half of 1978.

Come the long drawn Moi succession, when the DP must have been old enough to hear witness and learn of Presidential succession murderous exploits by protectors of status-quo and Lords of entitlement in the then raging succession plots, and we can count instances and victims without end. It starts with malicious detentions, torture, prosecutions, impoverishments and exiling of suspected regime change proponents. Among them were prolific University Student leaders and lecturers, anti-establishment businessmen and diplomats and independent political leaders. The histories on Koigi Wa Wamwere, Rumba Kinuthia, Maina Wa Kinyatti, Dr Micere Mugo, George Anyona, Prof. Oyugi, Raila Odinga, Otieno McAnyango, Kenneth Matiba, Charles Rubia among others speak volumes. Then there are the assassinations of Bishop Alexander Muge (Anglican Church) and Foreign Minister Dr Robert John Ouko which had been preceded by the questionable deaths of politicians Horace Ongili Owiti and Otieno Ambala of Siaya and Kenya’s first black Chief Justice Kitili Mwendwa. Still Kenyans prevailed in December and voted in Mwai Kibaki.

The Jury is still out about casualties in the run up to the Mwai Kibaki succession of 2013. However the deaths of then Security Minister Professor George Saitoti and earlier on the mysterious and unresolved murder of pro-Majimbo scholar and expert during the Bomas Constitutional Conference Dr. Chrispin Odhiambo Mbai had the whole-marks of political succession related eliminations.

The DP should know that with such a painful history, Kenyans are politically paranoid when threatened by anybody wielding power over matters related to legitimate and democratic regime change. We remember Bishop Muge being threatened by a Moi regime hardliner to set foot in Busia at his own peril; the bishop’s mistake being agitation for political pluralism, democracy, respect for human rights end to corruption and impunity by government.

Today’s people standing in DP Ruto’s and Jubilee hardliner’s way are those agitating for free and fair elections in 2022, electoral reforms, constitutional reforms, end to negative ethnicity, containment of massive corruption in the public sector and those confronting Mr Ruto’s campaign of entitlement to the Presidency after President Uhuru Kenyatta’s exit. Some of these champions of these national ideals have said they will challenge Mr Ruto for the Presidency in 2022. Others are merely partaking of the discourse as their patriotic duty. Now these are the type who has irked the DP and he is telling the country in broad daylight that they are standing in his way and he will crash them!

Thinking aloud:-Is political competition a forum for crashing or destroying one another or a democratic and civilized process that gives citizens an opportunity to pick appropriate leaders to help navigate our national challenges as we strive to upgrade Kenya to the next better level? Can those unable to rise up to the requisite democratic standards and expectations humbly quit the stage and engage other pursuits instead of undermining Kenya’s growing civilization in leadership and governance?

The author comments on political issues


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