President Uhuru Kenyatta and DP William Ruto in a jovial mood at JKIA when the president arrived from a 3 days state visit to Botswana.picCharles kimaniDPPS
The country’s political battlefield is littered with carcasses of politicians who made blunders in their journey to power. Some messed with their political mentors, and they were abandoned to face the ignominy of election loss and a life outside power. Others made bad calculations and anchored their ambitions on gentlemanly promises, only to end up in political Siberia.
Question is, where does Deputy President William Ruto fall in all this?
Well, for starters, Ruto is party-less. He folded up his United Republican Party (URP), the political formation that gave him a bargaining platform to join hands with Uhuru Kenyatta ahead of the 2013 General Election. He has instead herded his core supporters to the monolith that is Jubilee Party with the hope that come 2022, he will be king. Or will be made king.
He is also a worried man, because, Uhuru’s political backyard is toying with the idea of propping up a failed presidential candidate, Peter Kenneth, as Uhuru’s successor for the vote-rich Mt Kenya bloc.
Apart from their personal chemistry, there is toget International Criminal Court (ICC0 bogeyman is dead. The dislike (or is it hatred?) for Raila Odinga can’t sell as well in the Rift Valley as it does (or used to) in Central Kenya. And yes, there are people around Uhuru who believe Ruto is a liability.
But the latest addition to Ruto’s woes is retired President Daniel arap Moi and his son, Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, who have been looped by members of the Kenyatta family, in circumstances that have raised political speculations.
The trouble for Ruto is that, having led everyone in his political bastion into Jubilee Party, Gideon and his party, Kanu, are likely to reap big from the fallout that will arise out of party nominations. That will erode Ruto’s stranglehold on the Kalenjin votes – his biggest bargaining chip in the Jubilee Party—and expose him.
When Gideon emerges as the alternative powerbroker, and if he gets more people on his side, there is a likelihood that come elections, the President, a pragmatist, will be forced to drop Ruto in favour of Gideon.
Gideon and Uhuru are both sons of former Presidents. They know power; they know privilege, and when they speak with each other, they speak the same language. A language of, what could be Kenya’s equivalent of royalty. While Uhuru’s private views on Ruto as a person – aside from the political ‘Ndugu yangu William’ – are unknown, those held by Gideon are known. He has no respect for Ruto and actually had to remind him to check out the dictionary meaning of the word ‘hustler’.
Ruto is a student of politics from Gideon’s father. He has pulled some Machiavellian moves, including picking a candidate to unseat Gideon from the Baringo Senate seat. He is also causing ripples in West Pokot, targeting Senator John Krop Lonyangapuo, who is Gideon’s right hand man.
When Lonyangapuo revealed that the meeting between the Mois and the Kenyattas had to do with Kanu’s support for the Jubilee Party, it must have sent shivers down the Ruto camp since in Kenya’s quid pro quo politics, the meeting begged the question: “What was Gideon offered?”
No one can guess, because nobody knows why Gideon’s father settled on Uhuru in 2002.
A fortnight ago, Gideon went hard on Ruto for the numerous trips that the Deputy President had made to Baringo.
“There’s one Jubilee leader who has been frequenting Baringo and lying to people about development projects… If I quit politics today, and chose to be a farmer, would he still be coming here, to Baringo?” Gideon posed.
Gideon has options, but with Kanu being the alternative centre of power, the political flirting with Uhuru is just an overt way of telling the Deputy President that he should not think that he (Ruto) is the way to power. Neither does Ruto reserve the monopoly to form coalitions with other politicians in the pursuit of capturing State power using the Rift Valley numbers. There’s Kanu.
What this means is that Ruto does not just have to worry about the unity battle within the Jubilee Party, he also has to fight for the consolidation of his backyard, so that he has the numbers that he can bring to the table, when the power-sharing after the elections begin.
If Kanu backs Uhuru’s re-election, then, Uhuru will be forced to yield to the party’s drive to shore up its numbers in elective seats. Put another way, it will compete against Ruto’s men and women in the Rift Valley for the governor, senate, and parliamentary seats, and even at the county assemblies.
The next bit of the deal, will be that Ruto will have to tell his candidate for the Baringo Senate seat that the Jubilee Party will not field a candidate against an ally of the President. In a game where numbers matter, prevailing upon an aspirant to hold off, won’t be a capital offence.
If that is part of the deal that Uhuru made with the Mois, it won’t stop there. It would mean that Kanu and its party leader Gideon will also get a chance to nominate people into key positions in the next government.