Political Analyst and Blogger
I think we have heard enough of the narrative by DP Ruto and his allies that Opposition leader Raila Odinga was the "enemy number one of Kenya". In the latest attacks, the DP described him as a false prophet, wearing wolf’s skin. He was addressing a church congregation and perhaps this explains why he quoted a verse in the Bible.
In earlier attacks, Raila would be called a witch-doctor, a tribal kingpin and a person who committed a treasonable act and has a history of wrecking political parties. To me, these attacks are aimed at achieving two goals.
The first is to send a message to President Uhuru Kenyatta that he "committed a big blunder" when he shook hands with Raila; the ODM leader poses threat to the realisation of his Big Four agenda, so he should denounce and overturn the handshake.
Secondly, Uhuru’s approach to the war on corruption was wrong because Raila has a hand in it. To them, the President should focus on building a peaceful and united country. I disagree! You cannot achieve that when almost half of the population is left out.
Therefore, the President made the right decision when he reached out to his main political competitor. Prior to this, dozens of Kenyans had lost their lives and property worth millions of shillings destroyed. This situation was getting bad but the interventions of the two leaders saved the country from plunging into full-blown post-election chaos.
Notably, corruption is a cancerous disease that is ailing our country. So, unless it is eradicated, peace and unity will never prevail. As a country, we need to support the efforts of the President to deal with this problem. Claims by Ruto’s allies that the war is targeting him for political reasons are not convincing. So far, they are yet to prove their claims.
The President has stood his ground. This is what he would tell them. "Don’t say in funerals, weddings and other public gatherings Uhuru Kenyatta and some of his relatives should be investigated. If you have evidence, report to the relevant authorities. I am ready to carry my cross."
Notably, Ruto’s attacks on Raila would bring to fore the question; if he knew he was unfit to be president, why did he support him in 2007? Prior to this election, Raila had joined and decamped from a number of political parties. Ruto was aware of this but would stop at nothing in pushing Raila’s agenda. “Raila has won this election. We will not allow President Mwai Kibaki [he had already been sworn in} and his handlers to steal his victory,” he said.
So, what has changed now? Well, Ruto has been burning mid-night oil scheming to succeed President Kenyatta in 2022. He knows Raila poses a serious threat to his ambitions. If he will not run, he will play the role of a kingmaker.
He is remembered for his popular slogan of 'Kibaki Tosha' ahead of 2002 polls. With this declaration, the other opposition presidential candidates were left with no option but to support Kibaki’s bid. As the captain of his team, Raila campaigned for his victory. Ruto understands the rules of power politics. It is hard to defeat a worthy competitor unless you throw all sorts of dirt at him.
But in most cases, this would not work. In both 2013 and 2017 elections, UhuRuto used a similar strategy but millions of Kenyans turned to vote for Raila.
The other headache for Ruto is whether the outgoing President Uhuru will support him. Reports indicate his allies have been crafting strategies aimed at making him a lame duck President and lose the grip of his stronghold of Mt Kenya region.
But as it turns out, the President is aware of these tricks. When he toured Nyeri county, he reiterated that he was in full control of the country’s affairs. He warned those plotting to turn him to a lame duck President to look for something else useful to do. He also said when the time came he would rally behind a candidate he would prefer to succeed him. "My choice will shock many of you".