For the Ruto administration, a week to forget
Last week but one was a week of own goals by President William Ruto’s government. Judging from that week’s events, it is becoming clear that the biggest detractors of the Ruto Presidency are within.
At the beginning of that week, Energy Cabinet Secretary Davis Chirchir went before the National Dialogue Committee to tell Kenyans that the price of fuel would hit Sh300 due to the ongoing Hamas-Israeli war.
Tragically, his declaration submerged all other news about very critical developments that were taking place, by dominating the news cycle.
In fact, the news that the government finally has the money to make the bullet payment of the two billion dollar Eurobond in June 2024 was buried. The heightened anxiety that Kenya was at high risk of defaulting on this payment has kept its economy completely unsettled.
Chirchir ignored news dominating the international media that crude prices internationally were almost in free fall, having lost almost $10 a barrel since last September to trade around $80, a trend that was expected to continue since Russia has resumed oil exports.
In fact, energy regulatory agencies, the equivalent of Kenya’s Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA), from South Africa to Hungary, from Philippines to Tanzania have started substantial reduction of fuel prices, and expect the trend to continue into 2024.
Instead, all Chirchir did was to fuel the growing public discontent about the direction the country is heading. His almost grudging miniscule price reduction last week did nothing to quell public discontent, his explanations received with complete skepticism.
Barely had the hullabaloo died down than the abrasive CS for Public Service, Moses Kuria, provoked a fight with the Senate. The Senate was debating the now failed impeachment motion against Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza.
Completely out of the blue, Kuria posted a tweet accusing 13 senators, by name, of being “misled” to impeach the beleaguered governor. An incensed Senate suspended normal business to debate what they called the Kuria’s interference with the process. They called for the Speaker of the National Assembly to table a motion of censure to impeach the CS.
This is the same CS who is dabbling with Kikuyu kingpin politics, holding meetings openly with politicians when Kenyans expect him to be implementing the government’s agenda. These same government mandarins excoriated CSs of Uhuru Kenyatta’s government for dabbling in politics. What has changed?
Kenyans are wondering, what time does the CS find to engage in these sideshows and unending drama and also work? These are the government mandarins that have done grave damage to the its credibility, resulting in catastrophic loss of public confidence.
This column has had occasion to ask President Ruto to call his house to order. CSs must craft their messaging very carefully. The huge government investment in communication capacity has yielded no results, and the new Government Spokesman, Isaac Mwaura, seems to be taking forever to get going.
As if to put a footnote to an eminently forgettable week, there was a countrywide power outage. The reason given was received with hoots of derision.
Kenyans recall that the attempts to explain away the last countrywide outage in August degenerated into a blame game and name calling. The government’s communication capacity is in total shambles, and needs drastic reorganization.
Finally, as the week ended, Ruto’s government was forced to eat humble pie and admit that El Nino was indeed here. Ruto had gone on air to declare that because of prayers, the expected El Nino would not occur.
Then the deluge came, swamping entire counties, and wreaking havoc. Just like the Meteorological Department had warned. The Department had done an excellent forecasting job months ago, and warned Kenyans to prepare for El Nino.
To its credit, the government quickly apologised for this gaffe, and got the country back on El Nino alert mode.
A word to the President – let experts do their job. Kenya is, indeed, a prayerful nation, and takes everything to God in prayer. But, sometimes, the answer to prayers is no!