By Washington Osiro
I have built a very rewarding career in one of the more regulated industries in the economy. Between basic regulations and test method standards, the medical device field can be a minefield for employers and employees.
It is also one that is steeped in history and tradition – but ready to evolve with the times and the larger society – even though the evolution, i.e., change is oftentimes laborious.
However, one of the things I have also learnt from the med device/biotech industry is its desire for predictability and consistency even when/where mistakes are involved. This one lesson or observation at first appeared counter-intuitive until investigators and auditors from the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and Notified Bodies (ISO) consistently explained the thinking behind this perspective, i.e., looking kindly at “consistent mistakes.”
“At least we know that your quality system ‘works’ Osiro.”
It was also during an exchange that ended with the regulator making a variant of the ensuing comment that my disbelief slowly disappeared and the regulators’ collective explanations became clear and logical.
The long preamble, “kizungu mingi” or “philosophizing” as some have characterized my style, is to explain a key difference between the two leading candidates as Kenya hurtles (yes, she IS moving chaotically) towards the 2022 General Elections. The two are perennial bridesmaid Raila Amolo Odinga and the current deputy president and one-time “brother” of the termed-out Uhuru Kenyatta, William Samoei Ruto.
One man has been all over the socio-political spectrum – straddling markedly diametric ideals, values, and morality – while the other has been the paragon of steadiness and predictability, even when they lie!
One man, Raila, has been the champion of Kenya’s downtrodden and marginalized population, the proverbialWanjiku. The former leader of the opposition has been the poster child for multi-partyism only to morph into someone now providing cover for the newly unveiled Switzerland’s Union Bancaire Privée Client 13173, their family, and friends – people whose conduct remain singularly responsible for creating the very socio-economic and political conditions the same RAO has previously railed against and effectively used to build his political brand.
Conversely, William Ruto has remained a self-described pull-himself-up-by-the-bootstraps “Chicken Hustler” and a loyal foot soldier for a duplicitous friend who has now turned against him and tacitly countenanced his well-compensated sycophants and spinmeisters piling on against the junior half the former “digital duo.” Say what you want against Ruto but one thing the man has been is consistent, steady, and predictable – even when making up stuff.
– Spin the accomplishments of his former Jubilee Coalition? CHECK
– Make up stuff on the fly? CHECK
– Loyal Foot soldier to his “boss” Uhuru Kenyatta? CHECK
– Hold a poker face even as his person is being excoriated and torn to shreds? CHECK
– Campaign Message Discipline? CHECK
The man’s consistency and predictability given the army of detractors, financial wherewithal, and personal attacks aimed at him remains superhuman and that is a good, make that great thing. At least Kenyans know that a William Ruto Administration will be consistent and predictable – even when wrong!
Now contrast WSR’s discipline and consistency of comportment and messaging with RAO’s “Kibaki Tosha” circa 2002. This unqualified support for Kenya’s third president was followed by the acerbic vitriol that brought Kenya close to civil war five years later in 2007/8. Add to this neck-snapping change of tune, the whiplash wrought on by the 2018 “Handshake” between the same Raila and his on-again/off-again now on-again “brother” – President Uhuru Kenyatta. From railing against the now-proven rot of his “brother’s” Jubilee Admin including well-documented verbal assaults against the president’s family and friends, the former leader of the opposition has effectively become Jubilee’s mouthpiece and Kenyatta’s deputy and apologist.
The septuagenarian has provided cover for the baby-boomer’s corrupt incompetence that remains the hallmark of Uhuru Kenyatta’s time in office. From speaking forcefully about the rampant waste hard-coded in the current regime to now advocating a $60/“Needy” Kenyan, Raila appears to have made the calculation that it is better to join “them” than to fight “them”. The “them” here is his erstwhile political nemesis Mr. Kenyatta and his coterie of supporters.
And the piece de resistance that has forever damaged Raila’s credentials as the tip of the spear in Kenya’s fight for multi-party politics along with respect of constitutional democratic ideals?
That would be the rejected billion-shilling assault on the country’s constitution curiously referred to as the Building Bridges Initiative or BBI. If ever there was a singular event that in one fell swoop, damaged a public figure’s brand built over several decades by the figure’s long and honorable fight against the abuse of power, public office, entitlement, and outright self-dealing, I would argue that the KSh.20B failed (BBI) referendum championed by the two scions of Kenya’s more storied political families is Exhibit A.
And while his supporters will offer variants of the “the only constant is change” truism, one must wonder who or what the real Raila is or stands for.
At least with DP Ruto, most people know who is and arguably, what he stands for – even if they don’t agree with him – and to me, that’s a good thing.