In Tuesday’s Daily Nation, there was an article about the number of criminal cases against key members of William Ruto’s government that have been dropped by the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The article speculated that even Rigathi Gachagua’s multibillion-shilling corruption case was headed in the same direction.
The tone of the article was one of surprise. In my conversations with people, some of whom had, in all likelihood, voted for William Ruto and people with criminal charges, I have heard the same disquiet being expressed on the same matter.
The question to myself is: Did people really expect that these cases would go on?
A year after the 2017 elections, I overheard a conversation in a rural shop in Kiambu. The discussion involved the shopkeeper and three of his friends or acquaintances. They were expressing disquiet about the governor of Kiambu County.
Made a star by media
The governor had been made a star by the media, not because he was particularly brilliant; not because he had contributed to progressive ideas when he was running as an MP in a Nairobi constituency; not because he had contributed to great legislation when in parliament; not because in his media appearances he had eloquently debated economic or social policy.
No, he had become a media star because of his notoriety. At one time, he had even been charged with ethnic incitement. He was so popular that he was elected MP of a Nairobi constituency, narrowly missed the governorship of Nairobi, and went on to become MP in Kiambu, before assuming governorship of the county.
The man was spoilt for choice; he could pick and choose which seat to run for and in which county.
Now, the interlocutors at the shop were discussing the governor’s leadership qualities and finding them wanting. Then they began to dissect the qualities a governor should have. One of them — to my surprise — said that the ethnicity of a person should not matter when choosing a leader.
I could not help intruding into the debate. If someone, I said impetuously, had argued before the elections exactly the way you are arguing here, they would have been run out of the county, and possibly the people inciting such action would have been some us here having this discussion.
I regretted the outburst. The erstwhile voluble discussants went as quiet as a mouse. The shopkeeper busied himself with arranging some items on the counter while his friends suddenly remembered why they had come to the shop in the first place.
It was an odd yet telling scenario. The discussants, in all likelihood, had voted for the governor. I was certain that the leadership qualities they were now discussing were not what they considered before casting their vote.
Had they really expected that the governor would suddenly become the Kiambu equivalent of Lee Kew Yuan?
Did people really expect that the cases now being dropped would be vigorously prosecuted and those found culpable jailed?