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On Ruto’s war with Judiciary, it’s naive to dwell on surface only 

analysis, monitoring

If a mother tells the children that she will defy their father, how should they take it? More importantly, how does anyone expect the children to respect their father going forward? It is reckless talk. It heralds anarchy in the homestead.

Somebody – well, the media – should tell President William Ruto.

The President opened the year with an all-out war on the Judiciary for “frustrating his development agenda”.

President Ruto’s key policy initiatives, including two pet projects in Universal Health Care and the controversial Housing Levy, had been temporarily stopped by the courts.

And the President is vowing to disobey what he calls “corrupt judges”.

Most of the media’s reporting of this groundswell moment has been bare bones, dwelling on the surface only. Sample the headlines:

  • Daily Nation, Jan 3: “President Ruto: No courts of law will stand in my way.
  • Citizen Digital, Jan 2: “President Ruto Sustains Attacks On Judiciary, Claims It’s Being Used To Sabotage Gov’t.
  • Capital News, Jan 4: “President Ruto maintains onslaught on the Judiciary.
  • Citizen TV, Jan 12: “State of the Nation: President Ruto declares war on the Martha Koome-led Judiciary.”

Thankfully, some headlines, especially in the international press, dug deeper.

The Eastafrican, Jan 8: “The problem with Kenya President Ruto attacks on Judiciary.”

  • Al Jazeera, Jan 5: “Why is President Ruto in a row with Kenya’s Judiciary? A simple guide.
  • The Standard, Jan 12: “Real motives of Ruto’s verbal war on Judiciary.”

However, the Sunday Nation in an unrelated story on January 14 reported one of the most revealing nuances possibly driving Ruto’s open war with the courts.

Titled, “Wamalwa, how Uhuru saved me from Ruto’s wrath,” the story quoted Fformer Defence Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa as saying that Ruto is following the playbook of his mentor, the late President Daniel arap Moi, who ruled Kenya with an iron fist for 24 years.

“Moi started by capturing Parliament and subduing the Judiciary,” the story quoted Wamalwa.

How is Ruto mirroring Moi?

First, he started by buying MPs in the Opposition, Wamwalwa said. Then, he seduced the Judiciary, adding it more money, getting some judges jobs on his first day in office. Now he has turned from seduction to aggression, a full war attacking the Judiciary.

The huge problem here, Wamwalwa told the Nation, is that the President is in the process undermining a key institution.

“When you go to the village as the President and are preaching the same to villagers, you are eroding public confidence in a key institution,” Wamalwa said.

What did we say about the mother vowing mbele ya watoto to defy the father?

Dear men and women of the Press, distinguish the surface from the bottom. If the country catches a sneeze, yes, report on the symptoms. But more importantly, go after the disease.

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