Kenya’s New President Took On Powerful Political Dynasties

William Samoei Ruto, 55, has declare the winner of Kenya’s President election. He is the leader of the United Democratic Alliance party under the Kenya Kwanza (Kenya First) coalition. Ruto defeated his main rival in the election Raila Odinga, 77, who was running under the rival Azimio la Umoja (Unity Declaration) coalition.

He becomes Kenya’s first sitting deputy president to succeed the incumbent following competitive elections and first candidate to win the presidency at first attempt.

The declaration of the results was temporarily disrupt amid chaotic scenes by the losing candidate’s supporters alleging irregularities. The situation was thrown into further disarray when four commissioners broke ranks, held a separate press conference and denounce the results as opaque.

Ruto won the polls in spite of a sustained pushback by the incumbent, Uhuru Kenyatta, his former ally who chose instead to back his former archrival and longtime opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Campaigned For Kenyatta President

Ruto campaigned for Kenyatta during his first presidential attempt in 2002, which he lost. Both were indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) as the suspected masterminds of the mass atrocities that followed the disputed 2007 elections. They then teamed up to contest in 2013. They prevailed in 2017 as well, but not before the Supreme Court annulled the first round.

After their falling out, however, Ruto characterised Kenyatta and Odinga as the embodiments of dynastic politics and entitlement. The two are sons of Jomo Kenyatta and Oginga Odinga, Kenya’s first president and first vice president respectively. In a way, Ruto prevailed against the state, powerful elites, a biased media, the intelligentsia, civil society and jaundiced polling firms. His victory is historic and phenomenal.

As an outlier in Kenya’s political power matrix, which is dominated by a tiny clique related by familial and economic ties and adept at manipulating tribalism to capture the state, Ruto was elbowed out by the establishment. But he has somersaulted back by appealing directly to the masses, his original constituency.

Ruto Versus Status Quo President

For almost six decades, political and economic power has been confine within a group around Kenya’s first two presidents Kenyatta and Daniel arap Moi. Raila Odinga joined this group in the sunset years of Moi’s tenure and counted on it to propel him to power in the just concluded elections. The group has leverage over state agencies and the security apparatus. It exploits state power to advance commercial interests spread across the entire gamut of Kenya’s economy.

Kenyatta’s family, for instance, has vast business interests. The Mois are also fabulously wealthy . Ruto has accused these families of state capture exploiting their control of the state to enrich themselves primitively.

Ruto is also certainly a man of means. According to his opponents in the government he too has extensive business interests. It’s for this reason that Ruto has been accuse of hypocrisy for championing the downtrodden, or ordinary Kenyans whom he refers to as hustlers.

Pivotal to Ruto’s campaign was his bottom-up economic model. Its pillars are the dispersal of economic and political opportunities, and dignifying the poor. It invokes equity, inclusivity, social justice and fair play.

Hustler Nation President

His hustler nation movement was buoyed by mass unemployment, poverty, inequalities and state excesses such as extrajudicial executions and runaway corruption.

Ruto successfully reinvented himself as the agent of class consciousness hitherto absent in Kenya’s political discourse and competition. By rebranding himself as the antithesis of the status quo and personification of the hopes of the poor, his messaging resonated with a cross spectrum of the marginalised.

As the victor, his work is cut out for him. He will have to overhaul Kenya’s socioeconomic and political edifice to assuage the restless and disenchanted populace. He has to provide leadership that will disabuse the Kenyan society of tribal consciousness, embed civic values and national identity. If he does not, he risks becoming a casualty of his success.

The Making Of A Winner

Following disputed elections in 2017, Kenyatta and his close allies embarked on a campaign of vilification against Ruto. He was soon edge out of the government and remain as Kenyatta’s principal assistant in law only. Kenyatta transferred his official responsibilities as deputy president to a loyal cabinet minister in an attempt to whittle down the office and clip Ruto’s political wings.

The aim was to delegitimise and frustrate him into resigning, thus knocking him out of the succession race. Ruto exhibited resilience despite the frustrations.

In Kenya’s media, including social media, Ruto was the villain; the bogeyman. Through newspaper headlines, hashtags, prime time news and talk shows, he was cynically depict as the skunk of Kenya’s politics solely associate with vices such as corruption, land grabs, impunity, unbridle ambition, insolence, warlord politics, and ethnic cleansing. He exploited this sense victimhood to his advantage.

These vices, however, pervade Kenya’s political landscape and the depiction was more information by partisanship than moral rectitude. His accusers are no better.

Ruto cut his political teeth under the mentorship of the long-serving autocrat Daniel arap Moi in the early 1990s. Facing presidential opponents for the first time in 1992, Moi mobilised the youth vote with the help of young politicians, under an outfit known as Youth for KANU ‘92. Ruto was one of the youthful politicians who crafted the successful but equally infamous re-election strategy in 1992. This involved Moi sanctioning the printing of money used to bribe voters, among other things.

Defiance Of His Mentor

Ruto’s entry into parliament in 1997 was in defiance of his mentor. A fellow Kalenjin from the Rift Valley, had tried to prevail on Ruto not to run. Moi exited in 2002 and Ruto astutely won over the Kalenjin voting. Bloc and used it as a launching pad into national politics. Moi had wanted to bequeath it to his son, Gideon. Hence the fallout between Moi and Ruto.

The Kenyatta-Moi-Odinga axis, which Ruto has propped up in the past, turned against him. Fearful that he would end their economic and political stranglehold. They perceived Ruto relatively young, astute, ambitious, prescient and gallant as a threat to their dubious privileges. Now that Ruto, has won the presidency, time will tell whether their fears were exaggerate.

In 2010, Ruto stood out from this coterie and mobilized against the passage of the current constitution. He later defended his stand on the grounds that he did not approve. Some parts of the constitution but embraced it once it was pass.

He faulted Kenyatta for violating the same constitution through blatant defiance of numerous court orders. And weaponizing oversight bodies and state agencies against Ruto and his allies. Ruto also accused Kenyatta and Odinga of a conspiracy to illegally amend the constitution to consolidate. Their power, and entrench ethnicity through the Building Bridges Initiative. The attempt was quash as unconstitutional by the high court, appeals court and finally the supreme court.

Political The Magic Bullet Fix South Africa’s

South Africans gave a warm welcome to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s recent announcement about a set of actions to respond to the energy crisis in the country.

The plans involve steps to improve the performance of the power stations run by the power utility Eskom, the accelerated procurement of new energy capacity, and making it easier for businesses and households to invest in rooftop solar. The plan also envisages the fundamental transformation of the electricity sector.

Frustration and anger have been growing in the country over power cuts, which have become a fact of life since April 2008. Not only are they a major inconvenience for households and essential services, the economy is also badly affect. Estimates suggest that power cuts have cost the economy R4 billion (over US$238 million) per day.

The worst of the rolling cuts were experience during July 2022. These were partly due to illegal industrial action and theft and vandalism at power stations. Hence the president’s announcement.

Severe South Power Cuts

Before, during and after the recent severe power cuts, political will has often been city as one of the major reasons for government dragging its feet to introduce solutions. The energy and infrastructure economics advisory firm Meridian Economics argued on its site that substantial political will was pivotal to the success of such a strategy. The impression that’s been create is that political will is the only missing ingredient.

But this line of argument is simplistic. As a water governance and political science researcher for almost three decades, I often meet the silver-bullet-effect of political will when scientists invoke it to solve crises. These can range from climate change to poverty and water predicaments to corruption.

From a scientific perspective, such a conclusion shows a direct and linear cause and effect between substantial political will and ending the crisis. But the issue is much more complex. Addressing any big challenge requires much more, such as sufficient acceptance of the reforms by the majority of political actors and society in general.

Below I set out why political will is not the silver bullet many wish it to be to solve South Africa’s electricity crisis.

A Concept That’s Easily South Bandied About

A straightforward definition of political will is when an actor is willing to commit time, energy, funds and political capital to achieve change. It is equated with political commitment.

What complicates the narrative around South Africa’s electricity crisis and the (lack) of political will is that the concept is bandied around as the go-to catch phrase to indicate what the fundamental problem is when discussing power cuts, their causes and remedies.

But political will, as a concept, is very vague. Using it doesn’t enrich understanding of the political and policy processes involved in addressing a problem. Commentators omit several elements of political will, politics and policy processes. Political will becomes a mere rhetorical tool.

This doesn’t mean that political will plays no role in policy outcomes. But it is not the only requirement. To successfully implement policy and reap desired outcomes requires a number of other inputs and conditions. These include economic resources, knowledge, skills, time, a capable state, a robust legal system and a favorable global context.

It goes even deeper than these necessities for the likelihood of policy outcome success. Ramaphosa’s announcement shows a policy preference. But preferences are distributed among many political actors outside the electricity reform process. The main question is whether they will accept them.

Other Voices

South Africa’s second largest opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), has already indicated that it does not believe the plan will bring an end to power cuts. It also argues that the government is in effect privatizing electricity generation and distribution and that this will increase energy prices to unaffordable levels for poor people. The main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, supports the idea, although pointing out that it’s long overdue.

The labour union Solidarity is advocating for the privatisation of the electricity sector. It has submitted a proposal to government for the involvement of experts who previously worked at Eskom. The government and Eskom reacted positively to the idea. But whether it will be incorporated into the policy remains an open question.

South Political Power

Political power is another ingredient to take into consideration when talking about political will. This boils down to the ability, authority and legitimacy of the key decision makers. If political power and policy options, together with other resources, are major constraints, the government will find it difficult to implement the actions. Said differently, it will lack political will.

Weakly held, easily disregarded or insincere policy preferences can also negatively influence the political will to see the strategy through. The main question here is whether the government and ruling party can hold their positions on the action plan.

In the coming months, signals of intent towards this position will provide the answer to this question. Things to watch out for will include the credibility of the strategy. Willingness to apply sanctions for violating the policy. And the application of evidence-based efforts to promote it.

Nuance Needed

Gaining a more nuanced assessment of the ruling party’s political will to see the plan through. The business community and society should investigate these underlying elements and analyze them thoroughly. Political will consists of a number of sub-components. These need to be include in assessing the overall political will of the government to solve the problem.

For now, the paradigm shift shows that the government has the political will to move out of its comfort zone. Explore new territories, and take risks founded on rational decision-making. In the coming months, South Africa will receive the necessary signals to show. Whether the government and ruling party are truly commit to the strategy for ending the power crisis. These signals will show either risks to the plan or further opportunities that could be exploit.

Mass Casualty Commission Focusing On Alleged Political

Canada’s RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki is currently embroiled in a political scandal and is testifying. This week before the Mass Casualty Commission (MCC) in Nova Scotia.

The MCC was established as an independent public inquiry into the April 2020. Mass shooting in Nova Scotia that left 22 people dead. The Commission’s mandate is to examine the circumstances that led to the mass shooting, police response. Related issues like access to firearms and to provide a report of its findings. And recommendations to prevent similar incidents from happening.

A series of documents released as part of the inquiry suggest that Lucki assured the prime minister’s office that the RCMP. Would release information related to the firearms used by the shooter to help the Liberal party’s gun-control legislation. At the time, senior RCMP officials in Nova Scotia refused to release this information to the public to avoid compromising the active police investigation.

Allegations of political interference have been made against Lucki, who has blamed the allegations on miscommunication. There are calls for Lucki’s resignation.

Scandal Is A Red Herring Political

It is counterproductive because ousting Lucki from her position will do practically nothing when it comes to depoliticizing police work. In principle, the police are apolitical. In practice, however, the police are very much a political entity.

The Politics Of Policing

The law itself is political. When a government amends the Criminal Code, enforcing the amended law immediately becomes part of the RCMP mandate. In the case of a majority government in Parliament. The administration of an amended law is at the behest of politicians. In other words, political values are inherently encode into the law.

The police, of course, are legally prohibit from making overtly partisan statements to maintain. The public illusion of an apolitical police service. Regardless, the politics of police work can be tricky.

Police organizations regularly appeal to different interest groups to influence the direction of public policies that are conducive to advancing the interests of police. Policy is adaptable, Lucki asserted during her testimony on Tuesday before the MCC.

Consider the ways police actively promote fear of crime and how this might influence public perceptions or voting behaviours to align with political parties that promise a tough on crime agenda.

A political party that embraces a tough on crime approach is obviously beneficial to police in the form of expanded police budgets to pay for the hiring of additional officers, equipment and even higher salaries and benefits for police personnel.

One would be hard press to imagine police appealing to interest groups that might support political candidates who are either sympathetic to, or in support of defunding or abolishing the police

Advancing The Interests Of Police

The fact that Lucki allegedly wished to support the Liberal Party’s gun-control measures is not surprising and is on par with the existing politics of police work that serve to both support and advance the interests of police; in this case the RCMP.

Consider, for example, that after the horrific mass shooting at a Texas elementary school in May. Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino, a key political figure. Who is task by the prime minister with advancing the Liberal’s gun-control agenda. Publicly affirmed we still have a lot of work to do in Canada, stressing the need to invest more in law enforcement. This would include allocating additional financial resources to the RCMP, directly benefiting the organization.

Discussions of political interference because of the MCC’s inquiry are largely misdirect. Because they distract from the necessary and warranted criticisms of the RCMP’s mishandling of the mass shooting. The ineffective police response is an outrage. It is, and should, remain the real scandal.

The police will continue to engage in politics, as they always have. And attempts to depoliticize police work will invariably fail. The distraction of Commissioner Lucki’s alleged political interference will do absolutely nothing to prevent future crime in Canada. The focus must remain squarely on the police mismanagement of the Nova Scotia mass shooting. To ensure there is never another mass casualty event. The victims of the mass shooting, their families and all Canadians deserve better.