- He has built a network at the grassroots that ensured that even if he did not step in Msambweni, his interests were taken care of
- Indeed, the greatest lesson for those who want to go against Ruto is that you must ensure that your supporters come out and vote
The warrior Achilles is one of the great heroes of Greek mythology. According to legend, Achilles was extraordinarily strong, courageous and loyal, but he had one vulnerability—his heel.
In 2014, I was the county minister in charge of youth and sports in Kiambu county under Governor William Kabogo. The administration delivered decisively and when we wanted to extend the governor’s term in 2017, the voters refused to honour our request.
The interesting thing about the election is that the people voted against Kabogo, they did not vote for Waititu. And this is the same reason why Waititu is not the governor of Kiambu today. He was not the solution but a convenient alternative at that particular time.
This was replayed last month in the US elections. American voters came out in large numbers to vote Trump out, not necessarily to vote for Biden. Americans have seen how the world was uncomfortable with Trump and they too have been feeling the same way.
I was keenly watching and following the by-election in Msambweni and to everyone’s surprise, ODM lost a seat it has held since 2007. And it couldn’t contest the decision of the voters as the voting was very decisive.
We had other by-elections for ward reps where ODM lost in Wundanyi and the ruling Jubilee Party lost in Naivasha and Murang’a. As a result, the camp of Deputy President William Ruto is in celebration for what it calls beating the handshake.
Without a doubt, Ruto cannot be underestimated. In my opinion, he is the frontrunner and the person to beat in 2022. He has built a network at the grassroots that ensured that even if he did not step in Msambweni, his interests were taken care of.
Ruto and his troops knew that the by-election was about the numbers that came out to vote. They also knew that protecting the vote was critical for them.
Indeed, the greatest lesson for those who want to go against Ruto is that you must ensure that your supporters come out and vote. Secondly, you must have agents in each polling station to ensure that you protect the vote by getting the tally of votes before they get to the tally centre at the end of election night.
But there is also the other side of what Ruto is doing. Ruto is not the strongest candidate we have currently. He may have the best grassroots network but Ruto can be beaten by those who organise themselves the best.
For instance, let us look at Msambweni. Was the candidate Ruto chose to support the best? Feisal Bader is not a new name in Msambweni. He actually was a PA to his uncle and the immediate former Msambweni MP Suleiman Dori.
Therefore, Bader did not win because Ruto supported him but because of the connection to the Dori family and what his uncle had done for the community. Ruto only conveniently fell on the right candidate after Jubilee refused to field a candidate and ODM bungled its nomination process.
The same thing happened in Murang’a. Esther Mwihaki, who was elected the MCA for Gaturi ward, was not a very new face. While she was elected on a different party ticket, she was a key campaigner for the Jubilee Party in the county. She even served in the Kiharu CDF committee.
The examples I am giving above are to show that while Ruto and his camp can use the recent wins to show that they are ahead, their competitors can do better if they are well organised.
While Ruto and team are party-less and way ahead of everyone in terms of mobilisation, the large parties – Jubilee and ODM – need to do a lot of homework. In the upcoming by-elections in March, Jubilee and ODM can put their act together and beat Ruto or they will end up playing catch up towards 2022.