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This is why Gen Z protests are a blessing in disguise for President Ruto

President William Ruto

President William Ruto could turn the revolt against him into a blessing in guise by engineering radical and sweeping changes in his administration to assuage public displeasure.

The raging public discontent and countrywide protests by the youth might hand President Ruto a great opportunity to clear the mess in his government including fighting graft.

University Professor Gitile Naituli said the president can seize the opportunity presented by the Generation Z protesters to prove his critics wrong and turn around his legacy.

“The moment has been presented to him (Ruto) to have a great legacy and to become the best President that the country ever had,” Naituli told the Star.

The don noted he has a golden opportunity to even deliver a lean and efficient cabinet for Kenya.

“Ruto can hide behind the demands by Gen Z to fix the government’s mess for good, get a competent cabinet and aggressively go for looted money,” Naituli said.

There are reports that President Ruto might seize the moment to kick out some of his allies from key state offices whose appointments triggered an uproar among Kenyans over fears of incompetence.

A radical purge before would have triggered uproar from regions of affected officers with others hiding behind their tribes to shield themselves from government changes.

Analysts opine that President Ruto could take advantage of the demonstrations against his administration to break key campaign promises he made to some of his confidants.

Some of his close lieutenants who played a key role in his election had been earmarked for Chief Administrative Secretary, ambassadorial and public service jobs in state parastatals.

Governance analyst Javas Bigambo said the president can use the opportunity to make spur-of-the-moment decisions to win public confidence amid the raging anger.

“The silence in the cabinet is wanting, the president has been abandoned by his cabinet to fight it alone yet he is fighting to keep his allies in cabinet, he must crack the whip,” Bigambo said.

According to the analyst, the president has a great opportunity to steady the government and win public support by kicking out incompetent officers and”playing populist for some time”.

“Like an eagle, the president can fly and ride in this crisis and emerge stronger if he can hit the nail on the head,” he said insisting that Ruto is under hostage from the public and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua.

“There must be the will for him to decide whether he will push things the way he wants or the way Kenyans want. Right now, Ruto is like a twig in the wilderness.”

President Ruto has already signalled that he is ready to go the extra mile to cut down on public sector expenditure.

Ruto threw the prospective CAS officers under the bus, insisting their employment would be cancelled due to the country’s economic situation.

“On CASs, the court declared themselves on that and we have respected that. We are not going to appoint CASs until our economy can sustain that. No CAS will be appointed until when we have an economy that supports more opportunities,” Ruto said.

He added that despite MPs approving necessary legislation, he had yet to appoint CAS officers.

“I realised we were in a position where we could not afford to manage the rising wage bill,” he said.

There is an indication that Ruto might renege on some of his campaign promises like the employment of more teachers and construction of roads across the country could be delayed due to budget cuts.

During his interview, the president hinted at some of his imminent far-reaching options to address concerns raised by the protesters, assuage public anger and rescue his government.

“I promise you, watch this space. Going forward you will see changes because we must do something about opulence and extravagance. We are going to take measures that will put us in the right place,” Ruto said.

Ruto pledged significant reforms in his administration, targeting the office of the First Lady, the Spouse of the Deputy President and the wife of the Prime Cabinet Secretary as part of the austerity measures.

The budget for the First Lady’s office was initially set to increase by 17.3 per cent to Sh696 million in the 2024/2025 budget, largely for salaries, according to the National Assembly Budget Committee report.

Conversely, funding for the Second Lady Dorcas Gachagua’s office was reduced from Sh717 million to Sh557 million in the project expenses for the same financial year.

“There are some offices, including that of the First Lady and the Second Lady, that will not receive funds this year due to our current situation,” President Ruto said in a televised interview.

“Offices such as that of the First Lady have existed before, but from tomorrow we are going to do away with that and other offices so that we can check our spending.”

President Ruto said strategists including the cabinet, advisors and communication teams had failed him in his most hour of need, signalling his intention to overhaul his administration.

The countrywide protests against Ruto’s administration largely stirred by the youthful Generation Z, have pushed the president into a tight political and economic corner.

But former police spokesperson Charles Owino said the protests give the president a grand opportunity to sort out the mess in his government and fix the country.

Owino said after the elections, Ruto had no luxury of space to select the best for the government by rewarding those who stood with him and sacrificed a lot for him.

”The president is the biggest beneficiary of the anti-government protests because he now has an opportunity to reshuffle the cabinet and reduce salaries,” Owino said.

The youthful protesters have signalled to sustain the demonstrations against the Kenya Kwanza government the longest, entering the third week in a row.

Despite the withdrawal of the finance bill, there has been continued anger against the government.

The president said he would withdraw the bill containing controversial tax hikes last Wednesday after deadly protests which saw Parliament torched.

The extra taxes were supposed to raise about Sh350 billion, while about Sh600 billion was going to be borrowed.

The protesters are demanding more accountability from the government, with some calling for the president to resign.

They are also aggrieved by what they see as insensitivity by the government to their plight and accuse the police of responding brutally to the protests.

At least 23 people were killed and many others wounded, according to a doctors’ association.

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