TURBULENT TIMES

Sycophants dim Ruto’s star

Hope is fading, as Jubilee Party fissures widen.

In Summary
  • Querulous MPs from Central have fuelled the conflict further.
  • It’s probably because of their shared naïveté or orchestrated excitement that these largely first-term MPs cannot see that power is envious. It is increasingly defensive and protective.

Cantankerous Jubilee-Tangatanga MPs are dealing daily blows on Deputy President William Ruto’s presidential ambition. They know only too well their benefactor’s desire is anchored on the DP inheriting President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Central Kenya turf. But the President is the butt of their ridicule.

The hope is fading, as Jubilee Party fissures widen. The co-presidents – once described as the dynamic duo – are no longer joined at the hip. When they were, the chorus was ‘Uhuru Kumi, Ruto Kumi.’ Uhuru’s final five years in office are buried in the furore of 2022 succession campaigns. The choirmaster is the DP. The clash between Uhuru’s desire for a legacy and the DP’s unbridled ambition has muddled the succession math.

Querulous MPs from Central have fuelled the conflict further. It’s probably because of their shared naïveté or orchestrated excitement that these largely first-term MPs cannot see that power is envious. It is increasingly defensive and protective.

 

Tangatanga optimists say the DP’s ambition would be good to go, even with a 40 per cent of the Mt Kenya vote. When Uhuru and Ruto were still bosom friends, and were still UhuRuto, the math was 100 per cent of the stake. The reduction of expectations is practical: for the first time Central is divided. But that is not all. Central has no strong presidential aspirant to rally the House of Mumbi around ethnic interests. The power vacuum also means the mystified tyranny of numbers is dead.

But the DP’s presidential ambition has other hurdles: You need more than sympathy for betrayal and a cry over a dishonoured debt to run a winning presidential election. You need more than a heavy financial war chest to run a successful presidential election. You need the goodwill and financial muscle of the Deep State to anchor a presidential race.

The DP, who is a rank below ‘above’, should know succession politics has taken a historical trajectory that does not flatter his ambition. He needs an alternative strategy, away from the do-or-die; the now-or-never posturing.

You also need a state-backed electoral rigging machine. You need the wherewithal to take out a Msando, and manipulate the electoral commission. These were standard, impudent practices during the 2007, 2013 and 2017 presidential elections, even with a united Gema vote. The ball is moving to the other foot.

Three years to the 2022 regime change elections, the administration is avoiding the DP’s meet-the-people development rallies. Chiefs of state corporations, top civil servants, including regional commissioners, have spurned these rallies.

DP’s allies blame some ‘junior officers’ in the Office of the President for the no-show of security backup at Ruto’s meetings. Interior CS Fred Matiang’i and PS Karanja Kibicho are blamed for the spurn.

These signs should worry pacesetters of Ruto’s presidential run. It could be why some of them, especially those from Central, are panicking. Their nervous spite for ‘orders from above’ is telling. They should know the puppeteer is a duck.

Partisan politicians shout like hens when eagles snatch their chicks. But the Deep State, like a duck, is silent. It may have reconstructed Kenya. From the succession wrangles, Ruto does not register in the Deep State’s 2022 matrix.

Ruto may have money, he could be generous, even philanthropic, but the presidential aspirant lacks, at least for now, typically Kenyan building blocks for a winning presidential campaign.

The DP, who is a rank below ‘above’, should know succession politics has taken a historical trajectory that does not flatter his ambition. He needs an alternative strategy, away from the do-or-die; the now-or-never posturing.

Ruto may have money, he could be generous, even philanthropic, but the presidential aspirant lacks, at least for now, typically Kenyan building blocks for a winning presidential campaign.

The Deep State – the clandestine government made up of a covert network of power influencers – has its biases. It always has its way. It denied Raila Odinga the reigns of power in the 2007, 2013 and 2017 elections. It ensured voters did not matter. Vote counters prevailed.

The ‘owners’ of Kenya did not want Uhuru to succeed Kibaki in 2013. But the Deep State surrendered when vested interests converged.  Uhuru and Ruto, then International Criminal Court suspects, weren’t  good for business. But the Deep State wasn’t ready for the alternative—a change-invoking Raila presidency.

The Deep State may have decided who President Uhuru’s successor would not be. It may have its will, depending on how it plays its stakes. This uncertainty worries Ruto and his allies who have, for seven years now, treated the Uhuru succession as a fait accompli.