2022 RACE

Ruto has bolted: Will Uhuru push him to the political gallows or lasso him back to stables?

The 2017 presidential election cast must make hard choices, huru has everything to lose

In Summary

• People have put their life's saving bets on stallion William Ruto, the Deputy President. They have prepared Ruto well for the race and he seems excited and ready.

• Uhuru, however, does not seem quite sure about this bet and is exercising caution.

The cabinet meeting chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House, Nairobi on September 30, 2020.
The cabinet meeting chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House, Nairobi on September 30, 2020.
Image: PSCU

The story of stables is the story of horses, jockeys, gambling and big money.

In the stables, they breed horses for sport to do business and bring pleasure.

Critical care is given to the horses because they are the bridge between business and pleasure. For both, big money is involved and that is where gambling comes in.

The Jubilee stable has horses, most of them stallions.

The stable owner, President Uhuru Kenyatta, needs to have a horse in the next race in 2022.

People have put their life's saving bets on stallion William Ruto, the Deputy President. They have prepared Ruto well for the race and he seems excited and ready.


Uhuru, however, does not seem quite sure about this bet and is exercising caution.

He has pleaded with his team for patience before settling on the horse for the race. Sensing he might lose steam before being taken to the lanes, Ruto has bolted and is bracing for a race in the open fields.

Last week, taking advantage of the stable owner’s absence, he undertook activities that must have rattled the boss. These events have firmly demonstrated that Ruto is the candidate to beat in 2022.

Towards the end of Covid-19 lockdown, Ruto strategically engaged in activities designed to show the difference between him and Uhuru. He seems to have accepted that Uhuru’s support for his presidential bid in 2022 is not guaranteed.

Initially Jubilee's inner court was pushing him away. Then he decided to drift away on his own. He stopped whining about not being involved in government operations and functions. He now has the grit to ignore State House invitations to presidential functions.

Then he moved a notch higher: He took the game to Uhuru’s doorstep. He stormed the Jubilee House in Pangani when he had deluded his opponents with a decoy Jubilee Asili Centre. He chaired a meeting at Jubilee House in the absence of his boss, who was in France for a visit.

Again, he sponsored a candidate in the Msambweni parliamentary by-election soon after pretending to heed the party’s decision not to field a candidate in favour of ODM.

Two days later, he led his troops to Murang’a county, where a church fundraiser turned chaotic.

Two lives were lost and scores injured during the Ruto, once again, pushed the ball to Uhuru’s corner. He has it dangerously in Uhuru’s goalmouth. Will the President ignore his deputy?


Uhuru seems to have not more than three options. The first one has to do with the possible catastrophic outcomes of Ruto’s actions.

DP’s activities may spell his downfall and political doom. In this scenario, his erstwhile buddy has the choice to either let him sink or hasten his self-destruction.

Ruto has moved with alacrity to create a clear delineation between Uhuru and himself. He no longer suffers the fool of the UhuRuto duopoly.

He wants his relationship with Uhuru to be understood in an antagonistic framework. He will not tolerate those who oscillate between Harambee House and its Annex.

The 2017 presidential election cast must make hard choices: You have to belong to either not both. This has the consequence of making the targeted leaders cast their lot with Ruto or choose to play safe and stick to the President’s side.

If they stick with Uhuru, then the President may relish the rapid slide of his deputy to the bottom of the political cesspit.

However, if they choose to hang on with Ruto, then Uhuru may decide to pay his deputy in kind.

The President may choose to painfully separate and politically punish Ruto and allies. An array of options is at his disposal.

If he were to go to war with Ruto, then his arsenal is well stocked.

The second option Uhuru has is to focus on his retirement and promote his legacy projects. In spite of the heightened political and accompanying tension, Uhuru may well take the Mwai Kibaki route — assume an ambivalent posture and careless whatever the outcome of his succession.

The challenge will be how to tame the Kieleweke team that has coalesced around the President as they fight against the Ruto presidential bid.

It would be Uhuru’s responsibility to scatter them to the four winds. He may still have the support of Raila Odinga and his ODM brigade as he pushes his Big Four agenda.

This will give Ruto a field day and he would most likely romp home to the finish line with little resistance.

Therein lies the danger for Uhuru. Given his vindictive streak, President Ruto will return for his pound of flesh. He shall have kicked Uhuru in the teeth by winning the presidency in spite of him and his Kieleweke operatives.

The last option is to play the Moi-Machiavelli plot — woo Ruto back to the stable and pacify him. Once Ruto is relatively comfortable in his former Harambee Avenue operation centre, Uhuru will have to decide what to do with his deputy.

It is a little easier to deal with a problem at close range than when out of reach.

Since Ruto will be within his ambit, he may choose to hijack Ruto’s presidential programme and own it.

Uhuru would be telling the whole world that talk of him abandoning his deputy was farfetched and mere propaganda.

He would then proceed to be the champion of the Ruto 2022 campaign. This would be partly in fulfilment of their 2013 election gentlemen's pact.

If Ruto fails to win the elections with Uhuru’s support, then he, more than Ruto, would bear the blame. Uhuru’s legacy quest would have gone up in smoke but Ruto would still have a fighting chance in 2027.

At least Uhuru would have used that opportunity to calm the tense nerves of Ruto supporters and the restive Kalenjin community. He shall have paid his perceived debt to Ruto.

Conversely, Uhuru may decide to scuttle Ruto’s presidential bid from within. Once Ruto is firmly back in Uhuru’s fold, the President can easily annihilate him politically.

In American parlance, they say that it is better to have your irritant inside the tent peeing outside than from outside peeing into the tent.

Within the tent, it is easy to contain Ruto and tightly control his agenda. He will be subjected to activities that will make him wither by 2022.

His troops will be watching helplessly from outside as their captain succumbs to the weight of state power.

Uhuru, in this case, would have his way as he organises his succession. In conclusion, by dint of his sheer bravado, Ruto has thrust his boss into the field, albeit earlier than Uhuru desired.

Whatever, options available to the President, he has everything to lose now.

By default or his own design, he has plunged into the 2022 politics and is henceforth a central plank in his own succession game.