• As things stand, Ruto and Raila are clinging onto Uhuru to secure their political future and it is still not clear what the President has in mind.
• The only way Raila and Ruto are going to remain relevant politically is if they resolve to work together.
Mutahi Ngunyi is arguably one of the most distinguished Kenyan political scientist of our time.
This ‘professor’ of political economy enjoys admiration and hate in equal measure. Those who like him enjoy his controversial and richly philosophical analysis on Kenyan politics, while those who hate him detest his braggadocio and candid nature.
In 2012, Ngunyi, in an interview with Citizen TV's Francis Gachuri, made an annoyingly accurate observation on whether the Uhuru-
Ruto candidature was tenable. He observed that “if Ruto and Uhuru are not going to hang together, they will be hanged separately”.
The context was if the two went to the 2013 presidential election separately, they would end up in The Hague.
Eight years down the line, I want to paraphrase the sentiments made by Ngunyi and say, "if Ruto and Raila are not going to hang together, they are going to be hanged separately".
The only difference this time is that the 'hangman' has changed. This time round it is not the ICC but President Uhuru Kenyatta.
As things stand, Ruto and Raila are clinging onto Uhuru to secure their political future and it is still not clear what the President has in mind. But two things are becoming clearer.
One, the President's relationship with DP William Ruto has changed. If anyone was in doubt, the ongoing wrangles in the Jubilee Party point to that evidence, and if still in doubt, listen to party vice chairman David Murathe.
In January 2019, Murathe apparently resigned because "it is no longer tenable to stay on as the party vice chairman, given that I will have to sit in the same National Executive Council with a man I am taking to court to block from running for President”.
A year later, it turns ut party leader Uhuru rejected Murathe’s resignation. In other words, the President is okay with Murathe’s position and that Ruto should be blocked from becoming president.
Two, it is becoming clear that Uhuru might not be going anywhere after 2022. There are three ways this might happen. Through proxies, through a referendum to create room for him, or if there are no elections in 2022.
The idea that Uhuru might stay around after 2022 leaves Raila at a bad place, politically because whatever position he gets, he will be a stooge.
The only way Raila and Ruto are going to remain relevant politically is if they resolve to work together. Clinging onto Uhuru is a dangerous venture. It’s like taking a walk around a swampy area. As much as the first few steps are convincing ― that you might actually be standing on solid grounds ― if you keep on walking, you will eventually sink.
Finally, I have reason to believe that a Ruto-Raila unity might deliver more to Kenyans than a Uhuru-Raila unity. In fact, what we learn from history is that the Uhuru-Raila unity is bound to end up in betrayal.
Bruno M Otiato
Political science student, UoN, [email protected]