Ruto Dilemma: Pay Salaries and Default on Loans or Fire all Civil Servants. Either Way Leads to Rebellion

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Like him or not David Ndii, the Chairperson of President William Ruto’s Council of Economic Advisors is a very straightforward guy. Ndii states that the government of Kenya has two choices: Delay Salaries or Default GoK Loan Obligations.

That is really the issue on the table right now in Kenya. Either, the Ruto government stops paying salaries to civil servants and even MPs or pays them and defaults on government loans. Either route leads to a disaster for the country.

If you refuse to pay civil servants they are going to rebel against you and adopt a policy of “No pay no Work” and that would cripple the country completely. This could happen as early as May 1, 2023, which is Labour Day in Kenya and across the world. Workers may come to the Labour Day celebrations on Monday, May 1, 2023, ready for a complete fight with the Ruto government.

Alternatively, Ruto pays the workers and he has no money to pay the government loans. The whole world knows that a default on such loans could very well lead to Kenya being declared a bankrupt state and that has consequences no leader of any country ever wants to face. It leads to rebellions where citizens could hang their leaders on street poles.

The Chairperson of President William Ruto’s Council of Economic Advisors David Ndii on Saturday kicked up an online storm as he confronted questions over mounting public concerns on the state of the economy, and specifically the unprecedented delays in payment of salaries for civil servants.

Ndii has been having a hard day since he posted the government dilemma and he decided to go explain himself to the media. Ndii went ballistic on his Twitter handle, dismissing concerns over reports of delayed salaries for civil servants saying the government’s priority is paying debts and political stability.

When asked why the government appears broke, Ndii wrote: “It is reported every other day that that debt service is consuming 60 per cent plus of revenue. Liquidity crunches come with territory. When maturities bunch up, or revenue falls short, or markets shift, something has to give…salaries or default?”

As the conversations got more heated, Ndii was asked what could be the government’s solution to the economic situation.

He replied: “We could also retrench, that is an option.”

This means thousands of civil servants could be glaring at job losses if Ndii’s advice is acted upon by the President and, by extension, the public service.

While justifying this, Ndii added: “The first obligation of government is survival and political stability. The more dynasties foment destabilization the more we will have to spend on political stability. if push comes to shove handshake is always an option. How much do you think that will cost?”

Ndii’s remarks come at a time National Treasury officials are in Washington, the United States, for the 2023 spring meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which kicks off in person from Monday, April 10 to Sunday, April 16.

The other really troubling aspect of this, if you are President William Ruto, is that you have three weeks to figure out a Peace Deal with Raila and the Azimio opposition team. If you get that right then there is a small window of opportunity to keep the country going and find solutions to avoid a complete political and economic disaster.

If the Peace Talks completely fail to take off, the first mass action rally would be Monday, May 1, 2023, and at that point, the Azimio team could get solid support from all the unpaid Kenyan civil servants and take the battle to another level.

In fact, if things go that way, William Ruto may not even be able to address the traditional Labour Day rally in Nairobi.

All said, the next three weeks could very well define the direction Kenya goes in the next few years. Let’s all hope for the best and prepare for the worst. At this time anything is possible.

Adongo Ogony is a Kenyan Human Rights Activist and Writer who lives in Toronto, Canada

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