The as­sump­tion in the Ruto camp seems to be that by Peter Ken­neth join­ing the Nairobi gov­er­nor race, he is tak­ing a strate­gic po­si­tion in readi­ness for the Uhuru suc­ces­sion in 2022

The Star (Kenya) - - Voices - OKETCH KENDO Com­mu­ni­ca­tions con­sul­tant and univer­sity lec­turer

Deputy Pres­i­dent Wil­liam Ruto’s po­lit­i­cal grav­i­tas is grossly ex­ag­ger­ated. The man, who burns with post-dated pres­i­den­tial am­bi­tion, is at the top of the totem pole of the Kalen­jin fief­dom, but he fum­bles on the fluid na­tional chess­board.

Na­tional in­te­gra­tion, the na­tional in­ter­est, eq­uity, jus­tice, in­tegrity, and ide­ol­ogy seem alien for as long as the cur­rent Kalen­jin and the Kikuyu elite are joined at the till.

The Ju­bilee strat­egy of the pos­si­bil­ity of the two com­mu­ni­ties dom­i­nat­ing the pres­i­dency up to 2032 has been shaken, thanks to Peter Ken­neth’s an­nounce­ment of his in­ter­est in the Nairobi gov­er­nor race.

The as­sump­tion in the Ruto camp seems to be that Ken­neth is tak­ing a strate­gic po­si­tion in readi­ness for the Uhuru suc­ces­sion in 2022.

It’s also pos­si­ble that Ken­neth may be work­ing on a strat­egy that could give him two terms as Nairobi gov­er­nor: That is, if he wins in 2017against the in­cum­bent Evans Kidero.

Re­tired Pres­i­dent Daniel Moi’s leg­endary pa­tience as he waited for his turn af­ter Jomo Keny­atta, Pres­i­dent Uhuru’s father, eludes the self-pro­claimed hus­tler. The DP is rest­less, whereas Moi was pa­tient. Ruto is nos­ing the touch­line, over­look­ing the next hur­dle.

Among the Kalen­jin, Ruto is cel­e­brated as one who dis­man­tled the ci­tadel dur­ing the life of the king and his princes. But the self-de­clared hus­tler should know the ‘roy­als’ have not for­given him for in­sin­u­at­ing him­self on the realm.

The roy­als are the in­her­i­tors of the king­dom for­mer Pres­i­dent Moi built. Moi sur­vived the power in­trigues around Keny­atta be­cause he did not ex­pose his pres­i­den­tial am­bi­tions too early. Ruto has not learnt from Moi, which makes him fair game for in­trigues.

Ken­neth’s into the Nairobi race ex­poses the fidgety side of Ruto. The for­mer Gatanga MP has not even said he is recharging for the 2022 pres­i­den­tial race.

There may be no logic to the anx­i­ety in the Rift Val­ley, but the an­nounce­ment has shaken the foun­da­tion of Ruto’s 2022 pres­i­den­tial plot. His camp may even want to re­turn to the draw­ing board — as­sum­ing it still ex­ists.

Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta may have been as sur­prised, like oth­ers, by Ken­neth’s de­ci­sion to down­size his pres­i­den­tial am­bi­tion and run for gov­er­nor.

The other aspi­rants seek­ing the Ju­bilee Party ticket — nom­i­nated MP John­son Sakaja, Dagoretti South MP Den­nis Waweru, Wa­ter CS Eu­gene Wa­malwa, for­mer Starehe MP Mar­garet Wan­jiru, and Nairobi Se­na­tor Mike Sonko — didn’t see this com­ing: The rats re­treated when the cat ar­rived.

But for now, the Pres­i­dent, who is seek­ing re­elec­tion against a resur­gent op­po­si­tion, should con­sole him­self: Some of Ken­neth’s 72,789 in 2013, may top up his bas­ket.

Ruto’s han­dlers have al­ways as­sumed the 2013 Ju­bilee power pact would see their man suc­ceed Uhuru in 2022. They as­sume Uhuru will have ex­hausted his two five-year pres­i­den­tial terms. This wish is of­ten ex­pressed with hubris and en­ti­tle­ment.

At the 2007 gen­eral elec­tion, Uhuru, a 2002 pres­i­den­tial race loser, de­ferred his am­bi­tion and backed Pres­i­dent Mwai Kibaki’s bid for a sec­ond term. The leader of the op­po­si­tion de­fected to sup­port the in­cum­bent. The urge to keep power in ‘The House’ was ir­re­sistible.

In 2012, Kibaki dropped his loyal Vice Pres­i­dent, Kalonzo Musyoka, for Uhuru.

The Pres­i­dent may want to re­pay the Ruto debt in 2022, but he would have lost the clout to lead the Kikuyu be­hind his deputy. In ad­di­tion, the pos­si­bil­ity of squeak­ing through the 2017 gen­eral dlec­tion is di­min­ish­ing in the face of ris­ing pub­lic rage against cor­rup­tion.

PK may also be aware of the com­plex­i­ties of the pos­si­bil­ity of a sec­ond Kikuyu re­plac­ing a Kikuyu in 2022. If he is, then, that re­moves the bur­den of com­par­ing his strat­egy with Uhuru’s 2007 sup­port for Kibaki. Then there may be no con­spir­acy but an in­de­pen­dent de­sire to repli­cate the Gatanga CDF suc­cess in Nairobi.


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