Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ruto has taken a path to political oblivion

By Makau Mutua

It’s clear to me why the Christian clergy is against the draft constitution. The men of the cloth – emphasis “men” – are driven by religious bigotry and misogyny. That’s right – misogyny or the hatred of women.

The pillars of the Church hate the female gender so much that they would prefer a woman whose life is in danger dies rather than permit an abortion so that she could live. They don’t care about their Muslim brothers and sisters either. They would rather burn the draft constitution than allow Kadhi courts – which have existed for more than a thousand years – to serve Muslims.

Is that Christian love, or outright religious bigotry? I must confess that while I get where the Christian clerics are coming from, I am trumped by William Samoei arap Ruto. Mr Ruto is a young pup by political standards because he was only born in 1966. But thanks to former President Daniel arap Moi, he has been playing in the big leagues since he was in his 20s.

He reminds me of Julius Malema, that ill-mannered chap in South Africa who thinks he controls President Jacob Zuma. Is Mr Ruto simply too big for his breeches, or is there something to his braggadocio? When he speaks, you get the sense that he wants to be Alexander the Great. Both Mr Moi and Prime Minister Raila Odinga didn’t realise how cunning Mr Ruto was.

He is like a deadly parasite – he befriends and then infests you. He then watches you die a slow political death. He did that to Mr Moi, and wants to visit the same fate on Mr Odinga. This brings me to Mr Ruto’s bravado over the draft constitution. I mean, what’s his beef? He was in Naivasha and supported the PSC consensus.

I didn’t hear him raise all that ruckus about majimbo, abortion and Kadhi courts. Has he just woken up from some deep slumber and found these issues “contentious”? Or is he just manufacturing hot air to be noticed? Is he a rebel without a cause, some kind of a political brigand? Or is he a desperado, someone who has nothing to lose?

It is clear that Mr Ruto is Mr Moi’s political child. But I doubt this is the script Mr Moi would have preferred for his protégé. Mr Ruto does not want a patron. Rather, he wants to be the patron himself. The question is whether Mr Ruto has the wherewithal to be a patron. Can he be a political heavyweight in the true sense of that word? My answer is positively, affirmatively no! He is too hungry and it is obvious.

Rather than become the hunter, he is going to become the hunted. That’s what premature greed does. His devil-may-care attitude seems to be fake and his bravado false. He believes that if you act and talk brave people will think that you are brave.

That’s psychology 101, and it should only work on amateurs or the first time round. But by now most savvy people have figured him out. That’s why I think he should be smoked out. We should call his bluff. One way to deal with his type is to ignore him. He prospers when he is provoked and shrinks when ignored.

Let’s dissect Mr Ruto’s “leadership” of the NO campaign to unmask the pretensions that drive the man. Although he is a David, Mr Ruto fancies himself a Goliath. He has calculated that the NO campaign will be his ticket to national supremacy over Mr Odinga. He is like a small fish that swims alongside a ferry and “drafts” the currents to go further than it would normally.

Mr Ruto believes that the Church will be his “ferry”. He has aligned himself with the Church against the YES. He paints the YES people as abortionists, anti-devolutionists and pro-Sharia. Does he have great foresight, or will the referendum become his Waterloo?

I shouldn’t fault Mr Ruto for being ambitious. Ambition is good and should be rewarded. But megalomania and ego-tripping are different from ambition, and must be pitilessly punished. My sense is that Mr Ruto’s opposition to the draft constitution is hypocritical. He knows full well that this document is one of the most progressive constitutions ever written anywhere in the world.

Sure – there are some provisions I would like deleted, and there others I would like added. But if I was to insist – as Mr Ruto and the Church do – that the draft must bend to my will in every respect then we would never have a constitution. I have a final word for Mr Ruto. Please take a deep breath and step back from the brink before it is too late. Kenyans want the draft constitution and they will pass. Your purported leadership of the NO vote will most likely send you into political oblivion.

Prof. Makau Mutua is Dean and SUNY Distinguished Professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo Law School and Chair of the KHRC.

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