'Hustler'war: Raila Odinga's foot soldiers take on William Ruto
Members of Parliament belonging to the Orange Democratic movement (ODM) have dismissed Deputy President William Ruto’s claims that the party’s leader, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, imitated his “hustlers” approach to growth while crafting policies to boost rural economies.
The exchanges between the two leaders on their respective pro-poor policies underscore the intense battle to capture hearts and minds among the masses in the race to succeed President Kenyatta in next year’s elections.
MPs John Mbadi (Suba South), Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja), Abdulswamad Shariff (Mvita), Zuleikha Hassan (Kwale) and Florence Mutua (Busia) accused Dr Ruto of campaigning for what Mr Odinga has been advocating for years and dismissed his “bottom-up” approach as “basically a handout economy.”
“As always, the naysayers have started shouting. They say it cannot be done because it has never been done,” said Mr Mbadi.
On Tuesday, Mr Odinga shared his vision to turn around the fortunes of rural areas in what he said was building on President Kenyatta’s urban regeneration policy to curb migration to cities.
Fight for hustlers
He stressed investments in development planning and rural infrastructure, provision of cheap electricity and clean water, establishment of good public schools, quality healthcare and investment in food production.
“The end result of this deliberate policy of rural transformation that makes rural life more liveable and migration to cities unnecessary... will be the creation of functional and rich villages who have money their pockets a. It has been done in other countries. I believe it can be done in Kenya,” Mr Odinga tweeted.
Dr Ruto reacted to the statement by cheekily welcoming the ODM leader to the “hustler movement” while tagging the front page of the Daily Nation that projected the two leaders locked in a fight for hustlers.
“My friend Tinga, welcome to the hustler movement. The conversation here is about the economy not ethnicity, empowerment not power, jobs not positions, creating opportunity/ wealth not sharing, citizens not leaders. By changing policy not the Constitution to bottom up not top down economics,” DP Ruto posted on his twitter handle.
“Kenyans, do not be fooled by leaders who have mastered the art of handouts and live to regret it for five years. This is the time to think about rural transformation like my party leader is saying for a sustainable economy,” Ms Hassan said yesterday.
Handouts and harambees
“For you to spur economic growth, the needs of the rural populace are critical. We want practical and implementable proposals and that is what Mr Odinga has been pushing for,” added the ODM director of political affairs.
Mr Shariff said the public fundraisers that Dr Ruto is known for were not the answer to the problems facing the country.
“It is because of this that we are coming up with something that is sustainable. Handouts and harambees are not the solution. Our vision of sustainability is that of a stimulus plan that jump-starts the country’s economic growth,” he added.
Ms Mutua said sourcing markets for farm produce, and building hospitals that are fully equipped and stocked with medicine will help end rural-urban migration.
The DP has proposed a Sh30 billion annual government fund to help small businesses as a way of igniting economic growth from the ground up.