2022 RACE

Ruto is no Moi of the 1970s in the succession battle

he former is saddled with so much baggage, making it virtually impossible to even stand up come 2022

In Summary

• In ordinary politics and in more advanced democracies, succession politics is often schemed right from the day a president serving his or her last term is sworn in

• Deputy President William Ruto has set his eyes on the presidency. He may want to gaze elsewhere.

Former Sports CS Rashid Echesa, Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu and DP William Ruto in Kakamega on February 17, 2019
Former Sports CS Rashid Echesa, Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu and DP William Ruto in Kakamega on February 17, 2019
Image: CALISTUS LUCHETU

When Raila Odinga “trounced” Mwai Kibaki at the polls in 2007, what ensued is in the history books except for those who lost loved ones, property or otherwise, had their lives disrupted and changed forever.

Every day for them is a reminder to never underestimate what horrors those hungry for power can do to have or keep it.

Kibaki nonetheless went on to rule for a second term and no sooner had he been sworn in in the dark of night, someone somewhere was already plotting 2013.

 
 

In ordinary politics and in more advanced democracies, succession politics is often schemed right from the day a president serving his or her last term is sworn in, which is normal and expected.

You would expect those deputising a president would succeed him or her, but history shows that’s rare than is common.

In Kenya, the story has been no different. The first casualty of this phenomena was Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, who declined the presidency, instead opting to have Jomo Kenyatta carry the mantle. Jaramogi would later resign and served in the opposition for the rest of his life.

He was succeeded by Joseph Murumbi, as Kenya’s second vice president between May and December 1966, when he resigned.

Murumbi was succeeded by Daniel Moi, who few believed would fare any better than his successors in serving long enough to succeed Kenyatta.

Moi surprised everyone in not only outmanoeuvring the powerful and influential politicians opposed to his becoming president, an accomplishment he owes the then Attorney General, Charles Njonjo, a tonne of gratitude but also in how quickly and almost effortlessly he consolidated his power, making it possible to rule for 24 years.

Moi appointed Mwai Kibaki as VP but later unceremoniously replaced him with Dr Josphat Karanja in 1988. Karanja served for a year before resigning abruptly to avoid an ongoing vote of no confidence.

 
 

Then came George Saitoti after the 1988 General Election and served for 13 years. Despite the long service, Moi did not hide his disdain for him, publicly castigating and eventually replacing him with Musalia Mudavadi in 2002. Moi let everybody know his chosen successor was Uhuru Kenyatta, leaving everyone scratching their heads as to why.

Uhuru and running mate Mudavadi were buried by the 2002 tsunami, in an election Kibaki won with Kijana Wamalwa as his running mate. After Wamalwa died in August 2003, Kibaki appointed Moody Awori as his replacement. A likeable person fondly referred to as “Uncle Moody,” his constituents didn’t think much of him and gave him the boot in 2007 as Funyula MP.

The 2007-08 post-election violence saw ODM Kenya leader Kalonzo Musyoka become VP in a boardroom deal, only to be betrayed by Kibaki at the eleventh hour in 2013.

Deputy President William Ruto has set his eyes on the presidency. He may want to gaze elsewhere.

Some argue — and no doubt Ruto himself believes this — that like Moi, who surprised everyone by succeeding Kenyatta, that DP will also outwit everyone to succeed Uhuru.

They forget one thing: Ruto of the 2000s is no Moi of the 1970s. The former is saddled with so much baggage, making it virtually impossible to even stand up come 2022. Not the least of which is being opposed in his efforts by powerful individuals from Mt. Kenya when Moi of the 70s had Njonjo, who helped him outwit the hapless anti-Moi brigade. Ruto has no such force, not even close.

Governor Ferdinand Waititu is not it and go down the list and what you’re left with is, in the end, a hapless Ruto, which is the opposite of what happened in the Kenyatta succession.

And no, no amount of money can overcome these many forces allayed against Ruto. It would be wiser for him to start planning how to survive in the next government, even if it is serving as assistant deputy to the deputy prime minister.