Deputy President William Ruto has jumpstarted a long-range campaign for his 2022 State House bid by wooing NASA leaders to his fold.
Despite warning politicians against engaging in early campaigns, the DP has been hosting high-level delegations and holding rallies disguised as official duties while he puts together strong campaign pillars.
He has also been conducting his trademark harambees and generously dishing out political goodies baptised as development projects.
In the last two weeks, the DP has visited the Coast and Central Kenya. Before that, he was in Western for a series of harambees that climaxed with a tour of the conflict-prone Mt Elgon.
“It’s immoral and unacceptable for those of us in the political class to use the political space to manipulate debate so that we always focus on elections and sharing of power,” Ruto said during a Sunday service and fundraising meeting at the AIC Missionary College in Eldoret town.
Yesterday Ruto was in Runda for a harambee with Governors and a host of MPs.
On Thursday, Ruto held lengthy talks with nine Members of Parliament from the Kisii region at his Karen home.
“At the meeting, we discussed how we can work together. We are politicians and can’t rule out politics,” said an MP who demanded anonymity for fear of a grassroots backlash.
On March 13, the DP met Meru county MPs at his Karen home.
“Women leaders are at the forefront of championing equity at the grassroots through legislative policy and empowering communities. They must ensure critical oversight of good governance and accountability systems, and break barriers to realise sustainable development,” he tweeted.
He later met Woman Representatives at his Karen home on March 15 and, on March 20, hosted Nairobi Jubilee MPs.
“It is very simple, he meets the leaders before he starts a tour in the said region,” an aide said.
The meetings come after an extensive tour of the Nyandarua, Nakuru, Kilifi, Kwale, Mombasa, Mumias and Bungoma counties.
During the trips, the DP launched projects, held talks with local leaders and ensured he is endorsed for the 2022 election.
The DP is executing a two-pronged strategy to establish a strong nationwide network for his bid by using influential leaders as key pillars of his campaigns.
“He is first targetting the masses and then local leaders in the next phase to strengthen his bid,” one of the DP’s aides said.
The bottom-up strategy is based on the 2007, 2013 and 2017 voting patterns that outline NASA, TNA, URP strongholds and swing votes.
“Tomorrow’s journey is planned today. Ruto will be our President come 2022, not through witches but our prayers,” Taita Taveta Governor Granton Samboja said last weekend in Mombasa.
Ruto is determined to shake up opposition strongholds and directly endear himself to the voters at the grassroots level. He already understands the Rift Valley is on his side and has focussed on cosmopolitan counties and the Mt Kenya region to buttress his support in Jubilee strongholds too. The DP also intends to leverage on governors to buttress this grassroots support.
“We are also confident that NASA chief Raila Odinga will endorse Ruto to follow the footsteps of President Uhuru Kenyatta,” National Assembly Majority leader Aden Duale, a close ally of the DP, said.
“It is a two-way-approach for the President to build and unite the nation, but at the same time kill two birds with one stone by using the same numbers for the 2022 presidential campaigns.”
wooing nasa county chiefs
Those familiar with Ruto’s strategies say he was in close contact with a number of county chiefs in NASA strongholds to sharpen his campaign machine, but the realignments are expected at least two years to the General Election.
They argue 2020 is the right time the governors will start realigning to existing political formations when Ruto will have tilted the political landscape. According to Duale, among those in the DP’s loop include some second-term NASA governors.
“Josphat Nanok is the one mobilising NASA governors for us,” Duale told the Star.
But Nanok, the chairman of the Council of Governors, did not respond to calls and text messages from the Star.
“In fact, Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, Sospeter Ojaamong (Busia), Patrick Khaemba (Trans Nzoia), Granton Samboja (Taita Taveta), Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni) and Amason Kingi (Kilifi) are in contact with the DP,” Duale claimed.
He went on: “We have already made inroads in Western, Coast and the Kisii region, but it’s now time to cement this newfound relationship. We are still focused on development projects and the Big Four. We will start the campaigns at the right time.”
The DP’s work has been made easier by the ties between some of the governors and their NASA bosses becoming lukewarm. He will offer the outgoing governors political lifelines with lucrative appointments in his administration if the 2022 polls go his way.
Duale said others targetted include Hassan Joho (Mombasa), Amason Kingi (Kilifi) and Charity Ngilu (Kitui).
“I can assure you Ruto is strong and a man of the people. He has previously traversed the country in Jubilee campaigns and will continue tirelessly reaching out to all Kenyans,” he said.
Uhuru has often said Ruto will be the automatic Jubilee 2022 Presidential candidate and promised to campaign for him. But there have been murmurs in the Central region, with some leaders saying he is not guaranteed their support.
The recent handshake between Uhuru and Raila appears to have thrown the succession plan open, with some observers opining it was aimed at deflating the DP’s charge towards 2022.
But it seems to have energised the DP, who has stepped up his strategies to neutralise any outcomes from the handshake. He has promised several county chiefs direct government support during their tenure and a political lifeline after they serve their second terms — from running mate, to Cabinet positions, parastatal chiefs and diplomatic assignments.
Meanwhile, as the DP travels the country and strategises, the NASA juggernaut seems to be falling apart, with co-principals Kalonzo Musyoka and Musalia Mudavadi struggling to hold what remains of it together.
NASA has also protested that the Presidency has been frustrating the governors through denial or late disbursement of funds to the counties.
As Ruto launches the charm offensive against regions that did not support Jubilee, Kalonzo now wants the National Super Alliance registered as a political party. He said this should be done without dissolving the individual affiliates within the Alliance like was the case of the 2002 National Rainbow Coalition that propelled Mwai Kibaki to power.
“The National Super Alliance is a coalition of four parties and I’m seeing it growing or even being registered as a party — just as we did with the Narc of 2002,” Kalonzo said yesterday during a thanksgiving ceremony for Machakos Woman Representative Joyce Kamene Kasimbi, at Wamunyu ABC Primary School.
He said Narc was registered without dissolving the Liberal Democratic Party and the National Alliance Party of Kenya (NAK), which also comprised Ford-K and DP.
Ruto’s onslaught and Kalonzo’s proposal come against the backdrop of a strained relationship between ODM and its coalition partners. The Orange party has said it will work with Jubilee after Raila and Uhuru pledged to bury their hatchets and jointly transform the country.