What Would Magufuli Do With Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto?
The hashtag #WhatWouldMagufuliDo has been trending on Twitter following the austerity measures being implemented by the newly-elected President John Pombe Magufuli of Tanzania. As a result, there have been numerous comical Magufuli-themed memes on Twitter suggesting various ways of slashing personal expenses across Africa. Many Kenyans have proposed that Magufuli should go and rule Kenya for at least two months, and apply his “Bulldozer” tactics to sweep away the rotten leadership of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, which is infested with incurable corruption, wastage of public funds, lack of patriotism, empty policies, tribalism, dictatorship, etc.
Magufuli is using the first few weeks in office to stamp his leadership style, unlike Uhuru and Ruto whose first “100 days” were spent to select a bunch of corrupt Cabinet Secretaries that they sacked earlier this year; waste public money on shuttle diplomacy to bail out Uhuru from the International Criminal Court (ICC) post-election violence (PEV) accusations; attend silly “homecoming parties” for Jubilee politicians and Cabinet Secretaries at the cost of taxpayers; order lamb chops and other types of food worth Ksh7 million, for Uhuru’s five-day visit in China; lie about providing laptops to school pupils, etc. Magufuli would have told them to stop the nonsense, be accountable, and deliver quality services to Kenyans.
The joke on cost-cutting in Uhuru’s government is one that Magufuli would literally laugh about. Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich imposed a ban in December 2013 on using private hotels and resorts for government meetings. “Rotich announced a Sh121 billion austerity drive that halted business class air travel, use of government vehicles outside working hours, and attendance of international conferences” (The Star newspaper March 4, 2014). However, the same newspaper reported that the day before, Uhuru had chaired a meeting for his Cabinet and Principal Secretaries at the luxurious Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club, 200 kilometers from Nairobi. He had arrived by helicopter and the rest had used fuel guzzlers accompanied by caretakers and bodyguards, wasting public money.
By June 2014, the presidency (Uhuru and Ruto’s offices) had spent almost Ksh1 billion on purchasing new vehicles, despite calling for austerity measures. “The Presidency, which includes State House, the executive office of Mr Kenyatta and Deputy president William Ruto, spent Sh838.2 million buying cars, says the latest report from Controller of Budget.” No wonder there are memes showing Magufuli with his motto, “Hapa Kazi Tu!” (Here it is Just Work, Nothing Else) while Uhuru’s is, “Hepa Kazi” (Avoid Work).
Ideological, philosophical and ethical bankruptcy
According to a blog post by Wyclife [sic] Kipruto at econke.wordpress.com, “Since independence, Politics and political parties in Kenya have never been organized around ideologies and philosophies. They are and have always been organized around tribes and tribal kingpins. This is so because the political elite use their respective communities for their own selfish political agenda. A tribal kingpin puts his community in a basket and proceeds to the national stage to trade with other kingpins.”
Uhuru and Ruto have now formed Jubilee Party by merging their political parties (The National Alliance and United Republican Party) with other affiliated ones. According to Ruto, the Jubilee Party will unite Kenyans since it aims to provide a ‘national outlook’ devoid of tribal affiliations. Nevertheless, critics see the strategy as a return to the one-party state of KANU days. Who takes Ruto seriously? He was just a poor chicken farmer until he got a break when he joined former Dictator Daniel Moi’s fervent campaigns to eliminate Kikuyus in Rift Valley through the infamous Youth for KANU 1992 (YK92). Since then, he has been adversely mentioned in corruption scandals and land grabbing cases which led to at least one conviction with a fine of Ksh5 million to compensate farmer Adrian Muteshi. His status as a billionaire is therefore questionable and he has no moral right to talk about unity. The same Ruto, who has an ongoing ICC case weighing heavily on his neck due to alleged involvement in the PEV, was recently quoted in a local daily saying: “Compulsory ethics, integrity training to be introduced in public service.” Really? Leadership without an ideological base is what both Uhuru and Ruto suffer from.
Policy frameworks and role models
Uhuru and Ruto cannot transform Kenya since they have no historical points of reference, ideal role models or proven track records to wipe away poverty and corruption. Magufuli in Tanzania is working on the late President Nyerere’s Socialist ideology that was not successful given its rigidity and lack of capacity, and then-global ideological tensions which pitted Socialism against Capitalism. The Cold War and other dominant Western phenomena also did not allow Pan-Africanism to develop. Today, the continent is more open and there is progress in many countries with serious leaders, unlike the two clowns Uhuru and Ruto, who have managed to raise Kenya’s total debts from Ksh1. 89 trillion when Kibaki left the presidency in early 2013, to Ksh2.9 trillion ($28.4 billion) or 54 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product in October 2015. The men have a huge appetite for borrowing, corruption and wastage.
An analytical article titled ‘#WhatWouldMagufuliDo Sparks New Bout of Tanzaphilia’ by Hanno Brankamp, cites the late Professor Ali Mazrui who coined the political phenomenon “Tanzaphilia”, in a 1967 journal article, which he defined as: “the romantic spell which Tanzania casts on so many of those who have been closely associated with her.” In January 1967, Tanzania’s most prominent political statement, the Arusha Declaration, was passed as the then ruling party’s (TANU) policy on Socialism, Self-Reliance and Ujamaa (collective settlements, villages). The original document was written by Nyerere.
Brankamp argues that: “Tanzaphilia, however, was as much a result of this ideology as by the character of Nyerere himself, who believed strongly in practising humility. Even as president, he queued when waiting for services in banks, post offices and during elections.” Uhuru and Ruto do not show humility in the way they appoint people from their ethnic groups to top jobs, or when they go against sections of the Constitution to overrule the Opposition even on noble ideas. Uhuru’s role models are his father, Jomo Kenyatta, and Daniel Moi, the two presidents who were dictators and land-grabbers. Moi preached his bankrupt philosophy of “Nyayoism” (peace, love and unity) for 24 years, yet led the country into an abyss of murders, tribalism, corruption and dictatorship.
Brankamp argues that Kenyans have been gripped by “Maguphoria” and wish for better leadership amidst the prevalent poverty and corruption they suffer from, under Uhuru. Regardless of the structural challenges faced by Magufuli, his “dynamic social offensive against graft, wasteful public spending, and poor education as a prelude to his presidency might herald an innovative new direction in Tanzanian politics and lay the groundwork for what could become a ‘Magufuli doctrine’: Work hard, don’t live beyond your means, and listen to the people.”