SUCCESSION POLITICS

Even history is on DP Ruto’s side

In Summary

• As with Moi, his enemies have shown their hand too early and put him on alert

President Uhuru Kenyatta and DP William Ruto at the Port of Mombasa in September
President Uhuru Kenyatta and DP William Ruto at the Port of Mombasa in September
Image: FILE

In the seventies when founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta started to look frail, a group of politicians close to him began to scheme to keep then Vice President Daniel arap Moi from succeeding Jomo. The Constitution stated that in case of the death or incapacitation of the president, the VP would assume the office in an acting capacity for 90 days.

The group feared Moi would use the 90 days to entrench himself in power (which he eventually did after Mzee died in August 1978 ). The group, later to be known as the Kiambu Mafia, approached Mzee with their concerns, but he defended his second in command using a Kikuyu proverb “Ng’ombe ndionagio kamukwa (you don’t show a cow the rope that will take it to the slaughterhouse)”.

Undeterred the group went ahead with plans, led by then Nakuru North MP Kihika Kimani. It took then Attorney General Charles Njonjo statement on the floor of the House that it was a criminal offence to imagine the death of the President to stop them.

Forty-one years later, history is repeating itself as Jomo’s son Uhuru heads towards retirement in 2022.

Two political camps—Kieleweke and Tangatanga—have cropped up. Kieleweke says Deputy President William Ruto as unfit to succeed Uhuru in 2022, while Tangatanga supports the DP. Matters have been made worse by the March 9, 2018, handshake between Uhuru and opposition leader Raila Odinga.

The camps have led many to believe the ruling party might break up in the leadup to2022.

The fact that Ruto is under siege is no secret. But those trying to deny him entry into State House come 2022 should not underrate him. Ruto is a brilliant schemer, intelligent and not someone to be wished off.

Like Moi, his enemies have shown their hand too early and put him on alert mode.

During his political career dating back to the Moi days, he has created a strong war chest, which is very important in Kenyan politics. No wonder those fighting him have yet to declare their preferred 2022 presidential candidate, leaving people guessing who among his main political rivals—Raila, Gideon Moi and lately Musalia Mudavadi—will face him in 2022.

Moi the VP, like Ruto, was mistreated by his juniors, including powerful PCs, but in the end he triumphed. Like Moi, Ruto has maintained total silence against his attackers save for Raila, and shown total loyalty to his boss despite negative comments from some of the President’s confidants.

The most disturbing thing is Uhuru’s silence. But he has repeatedly said this is not the time for 2022 politics and can be understood to be walking the talk. When all is said and done, the fact remains that even being under siege Ruto is still the man to beat in 2022 and those fighting him must be prepared for a bruising battle.

Still, three years is a long time in politics and this is the wrong time for Kieleweke and Tangatanga to waste their energy on 2022 politics.