The Star (Kenya)

Fu­ture al­liances: Lessons from Uhu­ruto to Uhuru and Ruto

- ISAAC MWAURA @mwau­raisaac1 Se­na­tor for per­sons with dis­abil­ties and chair­man of the Al­binism So­ci­ety of Kenya Politics · Elections · Jubilee Party of Kenya · Jomo Kenyatta · Kikuyu · Kenya · Raila Odinga · Mwai Kibaki · Internationaler Strafgerichtshof · Deputy · Barack Obama · United States of America · Joe Biden · Donald Trump · Jaramogi Oginga Odinga · Dynamic Duo · National Rainbow Coalition – Kenya

It’s now clear to all that there is no love lost in the rul­ing Ju­bilee Party.

The once promis­ing out­fit with nearly two thirds of leg­is­la­tors in both Houses of Par­lia­ment is on its deathbed, just three years af­ter its for­ma­tion. Many such jug­ger­nauts that have swept to power end up col­laps­ing be­tween one to three years later.

At in­de­pen­dence, Kanu, whose lead­er­ship pro­duced the first gov­ern­ment led by Pres­i­dent Jomo Keny­atta and Vice Pres­i­dent Jaramogi Oginga Odinga col­lapsed nearly three years later ow­ing to amongst oth­ers, per­son­al­ity clashes of the two pro­tag­o­nists due to dif­fer­ing po­lit­i­cal ide­olo­gies, and for­eign in­ter­fer­ence em­a­nat­ing from the then Cold War be­tween com­mu­nism and cap­i­tal­ism.

Po­lit­i­cal ide­ol­ogy is based on eco­nomic model of ex­trac­tion, thus lead­ing to so­cial strat­i­fi­ca­tion. While Keny­atta favoured cap­i­tal­ism, Oginga pre­ferred com­mu­nism, which he thought was much closer to the African way of do­ing things.

Their catas­trophic fall­out not only di­vided the coun­try, but bore the seeds of po­lit­i­cal com­pe­ti­tion and an­i­mos­ity be­tween their two tribes, the Kikuyu and the Luo, to date.

Keny­atta and Jaramogi were two very strong-willed in­di­vid­u­als, who started out with a ‘bromance’, wear­ing the same type of head­gears and suits. When they even­tu­ally fell out and Jaramogi be­came the doyen of op­po­si­tion pol­i­tics, the two seem to have con­ferred upon their com­mu­ni­ties the very tag of their ide­o­log­i­cal lean­ings. The Kikuyus are seen as more cap­i­tal­ist, while the Luo as so­cial­ist, thus fus­ing tribe and ide­ol­ogy to de­fine Kenya’s po­lit­i­cal di­vide and land­scape.

Many years later in 2002, when Kenya had its first real free and fair elec­tions, Raila Odinga, the son of Jaramogi, teamed up with Mwai Kibaki, to form the NARC gov­ern­ment. Soon af­ter com­ing to power, they fell out due to fail­ure to im­ple­ment an MOU that had given Raila a non-ex­is­tent prime min­is­ter po­si­tion, shar­ing of Cab­i­net slots and a com­mit­ment to pro­mul­gate a new con­sti­tu­tion in 100 days.

In terms of per­son­al­ity traits, while Kibaki was a laid back, lais­sez faire kind of per­son, Raila, whose po­lit­i­cal sym­bol was a trac­tor, was a force­ful rab­ble-rouser, us­ing sheer force of per­son­al­ity to emerge be­hind the shad­ows of his fa­ther to be­come the undis­puted leader of of­fi­cial op­po­si­tion.

The two clashed on how to run gov­ern­ment but to their credit, the econ­omy grew to a record seven per cent. While Kibaki ran the econ­omy, Raila ran the pol­i­tics. How­ever, their fall out three years later led to the 2007-08 post-elec­tion vi­o­lence largely tar­get­ing the Kikuyu com­mu­nity. The ne­go­ti­ated Na­tional Ac­cord forced them to work to­gether again, this time as Pres­i­dent and Prime Min­is­ter.

Uhuru and Ruto were per­ceived [sus­pected] to be the pow­ers be­hind Kibaki and Raila’s elec­toral dis­pute and vi­o­lence, end­ing up as sus­pects at the ICC. This sit­u­a­tion made them work to­gether, first to ex­on­er­ate them­selves, and sec­ond to self-pro­tect by to­gether run­ning for of­fice. Ear­lier on, they had also worked to­gether in 2002, when Moi ap­pointed Uhuru as his suc­ces­sor, though the bid failed.

In their first term as Pres­i­dent and Deputy Pres­i­dent, Uhuru and Ruto — pop­u­larly re­ferred as Uhu­ruto — , just like Jomo and Jaramogi, wore sim­i­lar ties and shirts, with the Pres­i­dent mostly hav­ing left the run­ning of gov­ern­ment to the DP as his ‘mtu wa mkono’. The me­dia nick­named them the Dy­namic Duo.

They had learnt lessons, it was said, from the mis­takes of the Kibaki-raila part­ner­ship. In terms of per­son­al­ity, while Ruto is seen as an ag­gres­sive go-get­ter, Uhuru, on the other hand, is seen as kind hearted and easy go­ing, de­mys­ti­fy­ing the pres­i­dency and bring­ing it closer to the peo­ple. Oth­ers have de­scribed him as a prince at the same time.

In the sec­ond term though, Uhu­ruto has since de­gen­er­ated into Uhuru and Ruto, thereby demon­strat­ing that even when a co-prin­ci­pal such as a Deputy Pres­i­dent is given un­fet­tered lat­i­tude to ex­er­cise author­ity, still the cen­tre may not hold for long.

So while Oginga and Jomo fell out due to strong per­son­al­i­ties and po­lit­i­cal ide­olo­gies, Kibaki and Raila fell out due to the lat­ter’s sheer force of per­son­al­ity, threat­en­ing the for­mer’s laid back per­sona. Ruto, it ap­pears, ended up tak­ing more than kazi ya mkono to the cha­grin of his boss or those around him.

On the other hand, Moi was able to sur­vive as the long­est-serv­ing Vice Pres­i­dent — though at the ex­pense of so­cio-eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment — and the only one to have suc­ceeded his boss as Pres­i­dent, even though the in­ner cir­cle never wanted him.

In the US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and VP Joe Bi­den worked fairly well, de­spite the lat­ter be­ing se­nior and more ex­pe­ri­enced than the for­mer. Even though Bi­den never be­came the au­to­matic can­di­date to suc­ceed Obama, he is cur­rently lead­ing in opin­ion polls to tor­pedo Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

In the fore­see­able fu­ture, there will al­ways be at least two pro­tag­o­nists com­ing to­gether to win power, ei­ther through a sin­gle party or by coali­tion, due to our eth­ni­cally di­vided and po­larised coun­try.

The lin­ger­ing ques­tion re­mains: What for­mula can fu­ture po­lit­i­cal part­ners use to en­sure the cen­tre holds for po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity and ef­fec­tive state build­ing?

 ?? /JACK OWUOR ?? Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta and Deputy Pres­i­dent Wil­liam Ruto at the launch of Ju­bilee Party mem­ber­ship smart­card at Kasarani on Jan­uary 13, 2017
/JACK OWUOR Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta and Deputy Pres­i­dent Wil­liam Ruto at the launch of Ju­bilee Party mem­ber­ship smart­card at Kasarani on Jan­uary 13, 2017
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