• William Ruto trounced Chesire in the 1997 polls on a Kanu ticket
• What will separate Ruto’s stab at the presidency is the fact that the establishment endorsed and gave their blessings to Moi and Mwai Kibaki.
In the 1997 elections, a young and little-known William Samoei Ruto threw himself to the political ring for a match against a two-term MP Reuben Chesire.
Chesire, who hailed from Kabarnet, Baringo district, had ascended to power in 1988 after dethroning William Morogo arap Saina in an election that adopted the controversial “Mlolongo” system of voting, which had been ratified by Kanu delegates in 1986.
Chesire came from a privileged, wealthy and prominent family in Baringo district. In fact, President Daniel Moi grew up in their home and they, therefore, grew up as brothers. The decision by Ruto to go against the grain and contest for a seat held by a ‘brother’ of the then very powerful President did not sit well with the establishment.
Nonetheless, Ruto trounced Chesire in the 1997 polls on a Kanu ticket. In the subsequent General Election in 2002, Chesire decided to side with the opposition and contested on a National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) ticket, with the hope of taking advantage of the wave it carried noting that his ‘brother’, who was at the time an outgoing President, was about to receive the wrath of the electorates after endorsing Uhuru Kenyatta as the Kanu presidential flagbearer at the expense of household names. Ruto had, however, chose to be loyal to the party that brought him to power in the first instance.
The 2002 elections proved to be the turnaround in Ruto’s political career.
Anyone who voted or took a keen interest in Eldoret North politics during this time would easily tell you that this was the real battle of the titans that had ever been witnessed in the constituency.
A battle of “Wealth vs Ideas” “Establishment vs Commoner” and “Bourgeois vs Proletariats”.
When this battle came to a close Ruto again came on top and by the time the 2007 elections were conducted, the lines had been drawn and the margins had only increased, save for the fact that the establishment did not have a key player in the name of Chesire, who was not able to recover from the bruises sustained in 2002.
Fast forward to two decades later, 2022. His name will again appear on the ballot, this time not in Eldoret North but across the 47 counties and his tallying centre will unlikely be his small village of Sugoi being overseen by Climendi but most probably at the heart of the capital city.
Presidents Mwai Kibaki and Moi were also sons of commoners with the former being the son of a raw tobacco seller.
However, what will separate Ruto’s stab at the presidency is the fact that the establishment endorsed and gave their blessings to the two former presidents.
This begs the question, will Ruto manage to be successful in his war against the dynasties as he has in his previous battles?
The writer is an advocate and political consultant at Triumph insights.