NEVER SAY NEVER

No permanent enemies, only interests as Ruto critics now back him

Politicians are making about-turns and supporting their one-time rivals as they realign themselves ahead of 2022 polls.

In Summary

• Eliud Owalo recently ditched ANC, where he had a small stint following his exit from ODM, which put him in the national limelight through Raila.

• Exactly one year ago, Owalo, then a candidate in the Kibra by-election, completely ruled out chances of ever supporting, leave alone working with the Deputy President.

Deputy President William Ruto with Eliud Owalo at the DP's Karen residence on September 14.
NEW STRATEGIST: Deputy President William Ruto with Eliud Owalo at the DP's Karen residence on September 14.
Image: DPPS

The ongoing realignments ahead of the 2022 General Election have proved once again the old adage that in politics there are no permanent enemies or friends, only permanent interests.

Politicians who were once bitter rivals are now the best of buddies.

A number of influential people who once denounced Deputy President William Ruto have now joined his campaign for the presidency.

The recent case is the declaration by Raila Odinga’s former aide Eliud Owalo that he has joined the ‘Hustler Movement', DP Ruto's camp.

 
 

Owalo recently ditched Musalia Mudavadi's ANC, where he had a small stint following his exit from ODM, which put him in the national limelight through Raila.

Exactly one year ago, Owalo, then a candidate in the Kibra by-election, completely ruled out chances of ever supporting, leave alone working with the Deputy President

“I, Owalo, have stood with Raila Odinga, an honest person; I have stood with Mudavadi, another honest person. Do you think I will betray what I believe in and strike a political deal with a thief?” he asked.

“There is no day you will hear that Owalo has struck a political deal with Ruto … I do not need someone’s money; I have mine, which is enough. Those who think that I would pull out of the race [because money has been used to buy my loyalty], you are in for a rude shock,” Owalo said.

Ruto has also been joined by a number of leaders who previously said all manner of unprintable words against his person.

They include former Senators Johnson Muthama (Machakos), Hassan Omar (Mombasa) and Boni Khalwale (Kakamega).

Political analyst Kariuki Ngunjiri said political friendship or enmity has never been cast in stone.

 
 

“In Kenya, politics has always been a game of give and take, where everyone fronts their interests or that of their communities. This must be the primary reason why Khalwale and now Owalo are supporting Ruto, despite having been fierce critics,” Ngunjiri said.

He added that Owalo, Khalwale and Muthama have placed their bets on someone they are convinced will win.

Ngunjiri said perceptions that certain competitors are not well prepared gives “kingmakers” options to shift to those they feel have more assets at their disposal.

“Muthama has, for example, been quoted as saying Kalonzo Musyoka lacks the muscle to run a campaign. This explains why he wouldn't risk banking on such a candidate,” he said.

ODM chairman John Mbadi said Owalo and Muthama are behaving in a way many Kenyans would. “To be fair to the two, how many Kenyans have principles in politics? If they are there, then very few. We lack principles in politics."

“Whenever our interests are not found right, we tend to bolt out. Owalo has been gate flopping, moving from one place to another. Owalo is obsessed with becoming an MP for Kibra so he's looking for any method to get there. I think ideologies and principles don't even exist in his vocabulary,” Mbadi said.

Khalwale was a vocal critic of Ruto, especially during the last general election when he supported Nasa. The former senator, who is lately seen as Ruto’s major ally in Western Kenya, is now a strong critic of Raila, whom he supported in 2017.

He had established himself as one of Ruto's fiercest opponents, accusing him of swindling public funds to acquire helicopters and property not equivalent to his salary.

He is, however, now leading a brigade of Western leaders who say Ruto is the best person to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta. 

Muthama, Wiper leader Kalonzo’s longtime ally and financier, openly declared he will rally the Kamba region behind the DP.

He has influenced Kalonzo's political direction since 2007 when he ran for President and teamed up with Mwai Kibaki the following year to become vice president

In 2013 and 2017 polls, Muthama was a key dealmaker in the Raila-Kalonzo presidential ticket.