More than meets the eye in Museveni-Ruto meeting
Deputy President William Ruto is Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni’s political student.
Their friendship has seen Museveni help set up an institution in his honour – William Samoei Ruto Institute of African Studies at the renowned Makerere University whose foundation stone was laid by Ruto.
Ruto has been a continuous visitor to Uganda. In 2015, he campaigned for Museveni in the districts of Kapchorua and Bukwo in the East of Uganda
It is ironical that Museveni can build a leadership institute when his leadership style has been criticised. He is a dictator who has refused to relinquish power.
When he completes his current term in 2026, he will have ruled Uganda for 40 years.
To stay put in power, Museveni has had to run rings around important constitutional and institutional safeguards, checks and balances that were enshrined in what was a relatively progressive and liberal constitution.
Despite being held in high regard within the international community, Museveni will nonetheless go down in history as a freedom fighter who betrayed his people and a leader who knew what needed to be done but still chose to look the other way.
Ruto began his political career at the age of 26 when he helped found the Youth for Kanu ’92, an infamous campaign tool for authoritarian second president Daniel arap Moi in the country’s first multiparty elections. The main tactic was to bribe voters with newly printed money.
In quick succession he rose to become an MP, assistant minister, Cabinet minister and now Deputy President.
Ruto’s past acquaintances depict him as an aggressive go-getter obsessed with ascension to the top, vindictive and likely to abuse his powers and crush his critics.
His close allies have learned that, going against Ruto’s political wishes can be grievous.
Former Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto, who has known Ruto for a long time, once described the DP as “a dictator in the mold of a president of a neighbouring country”.
At the time the DP had threatened to have the county government of Marsabit dissolved.
The Bomet governor, who at the time was the chair of the Council of Governors, asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to “tame his deputy lest he wrecks his administration from within”.
It takes a defiant deputy to launch a presidential campaign against the wishes of his boss.
Ruto hit the campaign trail immediately Uhuru was sworn in. His first target was Uhuru’s stronghold.
He has over the time employed the strong-arm tactics used by his mentors Moi and Museveni by cutting his opponents to size.
In public, the DP is a great orator who knows what to say where. He can say two different things depending on the audience; generous to a fault, a Christian and a “Hustler” in his description of the word.
As he stakes out his claim to the presidency – with his populist campaign promoting the ‘Hustler Nation’ – he believes he knows the strengths and weaknesses of the “dynasties” and how to take them on and win.
However, it cannot be forgotten that political slogans have often been used to prey on the psychology of the masses for a quick ride to power.
Kenyans have an imperative choice to make in 2022. — The writer is a scholar in international relations — [email protected].