Why Ruto has not visited Raila's Nyanza turf in Tanga tanga tours

In Summary

• Ruto has locked his eyes on the country’s top seat in 2022 and has stonewalled all calls, including by President Uhuru Kenyatta to tone down politics.

Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga.
Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga.
Image: FILE

Deputy President William Ruto has not visited ODM Raila Odinga’s Luo Nyanza backyard during his weekend ‘Tanga tanga’ tours. 

The DP has visited most regions save for Luo Nyanza in his cross county trips observed as attempts to enhance his visibility in the grassroots ahead of the 2022 elections. 

Though he has defended the tours, saying they are aimed at ensuring that the government’s development pledges are fulfilled, he has leveraged them to score political goals. 

Ruto has locked his eyes on the country’s top seat in 2022 and has stonewalled all calls, including by President Uhuru Kenyatta to tone down politics. 

Western, Coast and Mt Kenya regions have been his regular destinations where he has led fundraisers in churches, schools and launched projects. 

In Nyanza, the DP has paid several visits to Kisii and Nyamira counties, but has not been to Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay and Migori. 

Ruto’s arch political rival, Raila, hails from Siaya and is viewed as the Luo community’s political kingpin.  

According to Prof Herman Manyora, a don-cum-political analyst, the region has ‘generally shown’ hostility to the DP during past trips.

 This, he says, could have played a part in the DP’s perceived avoidance of the area. 

“To most observers, Luo Nyanza must be hostile to him. So it is an element of fear and apprehension. They are not the best of his friends,” he observed. 

“The problem with Luo Nyanza for him is that any small thing can erupt, then he gets embarrassed,” he added. 

Manyora, however, noted that the DP’s move to not visit the region could be a political strategy ahead of 2022 elections.

 “That could be part of his strategy because he can decide to leave some areas and decide to attack and a certain time,” he said. 

Analyst Macharia Munene, while insisting the DP has not shunned the region, observed that he has not made as many visits there compared to other areas because ‘there is no one to invite him.’ 

“He can only go somewhere when he is invited or unless he is on official duty,” he opined. 

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei, the Ruto’s close ally, refuted the assertion the DP has avoided the region. 

“There is no way he is avoiding Luo Nyanza because Nyanza is part of Kenya and he is the DP of the Republic of Kenya,” he said. 

According to him, Ruto has visited every part of the county and will continue to do so as the President’s principal assistant. 

“The people saying that [he has avoided Luo Nyanza] don’t know his itinerary because as I am aware the DP will work with all Kenyans from all corners, from all tribes,” he added. 

The last time Ruto visited Luo Nyanza was on December 13, 2018, when he toured Kisumu with President Uhuru Kenyatta during the launch of the pilot phase of the Universal Health Coverage. Before then, Ruto was in Migori and Homa Bay County where he commissioned Masara-Suna-Kehancha and Awendo- Mariwa-Oygis roads in November. 

Prior to the visit, political leaders in Homa Bay led by Senator Moses Kajwang has asked him to skip the trip, saying he was not welcome to the region. 

He has not set foot in Siaya since he and the President were re-elected to office in the repeat Presidential election in October 2017. 

The last time he was in Siaya was in July 2015 when he was hosted by Anglican Bishop Johanness Angela in Bondo.

The Bishop was abducted days after he hosted the DP.