Deputy President William Ruto has rattled the opposition with his onslaught on regions perceived to be loyal to ODM leader Raila Odinga.
Yesterday the Star established that there was panic in the Orange Party over Ruto's frenetic activities. It has called a National Executive Committee meeting for next week to discuss how to parry the DP's forays.
Raila is to chair the meeting to discuss how to keep ODM united and agree on disciplinary cases — ODM rebels endorsing Ruto — to be forwarded to the disciplinary committee.
"There is confusion. Nobody knows whether Raila will run or not. He needs to come out clearly on this matter,” an ODM Executive Committee member told the Star.
The DP's relentless charm offensive targets Raila’s bastions of Coast, Nyanza and Western as he prepares to succeed his boss, President Uhuru Kenyatta.
He says it's official business, launching projects and representing Uhuru, but critics see it as blatant campaigning and dishing out projects and promises. There's a fine line between the duties of Ruto the Deputy President and Ruto the campaigner.
For the last three days, Ruto has been touring the Coast where he has been praised by opposition leaders, despite threats by ODM secretary general Edwin Sifuna to discipline them. A number of ODM lawmakers have promised to rally votes for the DP.
Since the Uhuru-Raila handshake of March 9, the DP has held 46 rallies countrywide, an average of three public meetings a week.
As a student of former President Daniel Moi, Ruto has employed the same strategies of frequently hosting delegations and meeting various leaders at his Eldoret and Nairobi homes.
He does the same whenever he tours the country to launch projects and inspect development.
His unceasing travels have been dubbed "kutangatanga" by Uhuru and the phrase, not a compliment, has caught on.
The DP is also understood to be promising to reward those willing to support him if and when he becomes President.
Some ODM lawmakers who abandoned Raila for Ruto have said the Deputy President is very generous and willing to 'give them development'.
"He is not a front runner anymore. He is the only runner who is solving our issues as we head to 2022," said Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa. The once-staunch Raila supporter is now fondly known in the Ruto camp s "Mama Radar" for sensing the political pulse and being among the first to back Ruto.
Ruto has hit Raila's Nyanza bedrock. On April 8, the DP met all five MPs from Nyamira county and announced that schools in the region would benefit from a Sh 2.1 billion kitty.
Earlier, the DP met all nine MPs from Kisii county and urged them to forget the divisive 2017 elections and work together for development.
At his Karen home, Ruto has also hosted Western Kenya MPs, fuelling reports that Ruto could work with Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang'ula and ANC's Musalia Mudavadi in 2022.
For 15 years Raila has enjoyed massive support in Nyanza and Western where he got more than 70 per cent of the vote in both populous areas in the last three elections.
ODM's deputy party leader Wycliffe Oparanya has met Ruto and is reportedly angling to be his running mate.
The DP is determined to making more overtures to opposition troops as he takes advantage of the confusion brought about by the handshake.
He has visited Kisii, Bungoma, Kakamega, Kilifi, and Mombasa and is set to visit Northeastern next week.
He will tour National Assembly Majority leader Aden Duale’s Garissa backyard to launch development projects before moving to Wajir on a similar mission. He will end the week in Isiolo and Mandera counties.
At the Coast, the DP has dealt Raila a blow after several MPs allied to NASA backed his 2022 bid. They they have even abandoned their 'son' Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho who once said he would run for President.
They included Kinango’s Benjamin Tayari, Kilifi North MP Owen Baya, Suleiman Dori of Msambweni and Malindi's Jumwa.
Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi's could be a major catch for Ruto. He has been an opposition point man but signalled he could work with Ruto.
Jumwa had been termed an iron lady for her tough talk and influence in the Coast region. She was rewarded by Raila with a seat on the lucrative Parliamentary Service Commission.
"We have already built bridges, what we are doing now is walking on them. That is why we are crisscrossing the country to preach peace and promote unity," she said.
Ruto has also captured chairman of the Coast Parliamentary Group Suleiman Dori who has quit the ODM National Executive Committee.
Yesterday, secretary general Sifuna confirmed to the Star that Dori had tendered his resignation.
“He resigned yesterday [Sunday] as a NEC member,” said Sifuna who vowed the party would crack the whip on MPs perceived to be disloyal.
“It is only a matter of time. The party organs responsible are on that matter and soon you are going to see what will happen. They [rebels] will be dealt with in accordance to the party’s constitution,” he said.
Sifuna clarified that the party’s NEC had resolved in a formal meeting against backing Ruto in his 2022 presidential bid.
National Assembly Minority whip Junet Mohamed warned that early campaigns could open loopholes for plundering public resources and therefore jeopardise Uhuru’s Big Four agenda.
“Let me join many Kenyans in registering my shock! It appears that the official campaign period for the 2022 presidential election has been declared. And with that, the looting to bankroll it risks destroying Uhuru’s Big Four. Wrong timing,” tweeted the Suna East MP.
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