UNFAMILIAR TERRITORY

How Ruto's bumpy political journey mirrors Raila's

The DP has found himself battling the same problems that Raila has fought for years.

In Summary
  • Claims by the DP's allies that scheme has been rolled into motion to rig the 2022 general election is the latest demonstration of Ruto's fears.
  • Just as Raila endured humiliation in the Grand Coalition government between 2008-2013, the DP has cut a lonely image of an isolated man in government.
ODM leader Raila Odinga and DP William Ruto
ODM leader Raila Odinga and DP William Ruto
Image: FILE

Deputy President William Ruto has found himself walking a thorny path that mirrors that of Raila Odinga's bumpy political journey, marred by broken political vows and poll rigging claims.

Ruto, like Raila during the Narc administration and the Grand Coalition government, has been shoved from the heart of state power. He has numerously complained of being belittled by junior government officers.

The similarities of the Ruto-Raila political paths became even clearer on Thursday when the DP’s allies launched a bitter protest, alleging a plot to rig the 2022 election.

Ironically, Ruto has previously managed to put a brave face on his tribulations, claiming he has the support of millions of Kenyans and 'God' to sweep to power in 2022.

On Thursday, however, his allies alleged an elaborate scheme by the so-called system to rig the election through Huduma Namba.

Several MPs claimed that a mysterious foreign firm had been single-sourced through the National Intelligence Service to rig the 2022 polls, allegations that were rubbished by the Ministry of Interior.

"The government urges Kenyans to be wary of misinformation and conspiracy theories propagated about Huduma Namba,” the ministry said in a statement to newsrooms.

The claims have exposed the jitters in Ruto’s camp. Ironically, in both 2013 and 2017, Ruto led a spirited campaign to discredit Raila’s poll rigging claims.

A week to the August 4, 2017 polls, Raila claimed that the Kenya Defence Forces, the police, regional coordinators and county commanders had been mobilised and trained at Nairobi’s Embakasi Barracks to help tilt the elections outcome in favour of the Jubilee Party.

Raila has previously said he was robbed of victory in 2007, 2013 and 2017. However, today the ODM leader is basking in full glory of his Handshake deal with Uhuru and enjoys goodwill across government.

Recently, Ruto said he did not believe the 2007 presidential election was rigged despite having been in Raila's camp that organised countrywide protest against the results. 

Ruto insisted that Jubilee won the 2013 and 2017 presidential elections fair and square, adding that it is hard to rig an election in Kenya and get away with it. 

“From where I sit, it is not easy to rig an election and get away with it. Any election that is rigged, people go to court and they overturn them. The best way to know whether an election was rigged is to subject it to due process,” Ruto said on Citizen TV last month.

His remarks were, however, seen in some quarters as a contradiction given that the 2017 presidential election was annulled by the Supreme Court over illegalities and irregularities and the IEBC directed to conduct a repeat poll.

Nasa, the coalition that brought together Raila's ODM, Wiper, Ford Kenya, Chama Cha Mashinani and ANC, boycotted the repeat election, saying its grievances over the election had been ignored. 

Edged away from the nerve of government, Ruto seems to be building a political machine from a disadvantaged position as was Raila years ago.

During the 2008-13 Grand Coalition government, Raila alleged humiliations and embarrassments from President Mwai Kibaki's men.

As Prime Minister and a co-principal in the political marriage, Raila's allies frequently lamented that he was treated as an outsider for five years. His tenure was characterised by protocol breaches and open complaints that the provincial administration was conspicuously absent from his events.

“The Prime Minister is coming to an important function like this and the PC (provincial commissioner) is not there…and a small carpet like this,” Raila protested at his treatment by government officers in April 2009

However, 11 years down the line, the DP has found himself in the same precarious position, alleging that top state officials have been roped in to undermine his office.

The DP has claimed that officers from the national administration previously the provincial administration have been instructed to mobilise the public against his presidential campaigns.

“If you are a county commissioner, please, focus on government development programmes, stop playing politics,” the DP warned on Thursday during a rally in Kajiado.

He protested that county commissioners, deputy county commissioners, assistant county commissioners, chiefs and assistant chiefs are executing orders to frustrate his rallies across the country.

The former Eldoret North MP has alleged that the "system" or the "deep state" is scheming to deny him victory but dared it to bring it on.

"They may have the godfathers, but we have God the father. We want to tell those who are selling to us fear that they should stop that nonsense," the DP said on Thursday.

In Kenyan politics, the “system” refers to powerful bureaucrats, political operatives and tycoons bankrolling Kenya’s elections and is most of the time said to hold sway in determining who becomes the chief executive of the country.

On Friday, political analyst and university don Augustine Nyamboga told the Star that Ruto is getting a test of his own medicine.

"It is now clear that the DP has no political philosophy that can define him. The wild claims on rigging by his allies is meant to whip emotions and is dangerous for the country," he said. 

The DP has warned his rivals not to bank their hopes on the system, saying his 'hustler nation movement' will crush them at the ballot.

Coincidentally, Ruto's frustrations in his own government have heightened at a time the momentum is building for a national referendum as was the case in 2005.

Just as Narc disintegrated in the run-up to the public vote in which Mwai the Kibaki administration lost to a Raila-led side that largely comprised politicians in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and official opposition party Kanu (then led by Uhuru), the ruling Jubilee Party is on the same path as a plebiscite looms.

A year after sweeping to power in 2002, the National Rainbow Coalition was hit by an acrimonious split. Raila’s allies accused Kibaki’s men of doing everything to trash a pre-election power-sharing pact that would make him Prime Minister.

Similarly, Ruto, who has opposed a Building Bridges Initiative-driven referendum, has found himself in an unpleasant situation a predicament Raila faced 15 years ago after a falling-out in the Narc administration.

President Uhuru, on the other hand, appears to be pushing for a referendum to alter the governance structure of the country. He says time is ripe to amend and improve on the decade-old supreme law to make it responsive to the needs of Kenyans so it can spur socioeconomic development and promote shared prosperity.