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SUCCESSION BATTLE

How Kieleweke group is falling for Team Tangatanga strategies

In their strategies, both teams are banking on Uhuru’s overt and covert actions to succeed.

In Summary

• Team Kieleweke are politicians driven by the desire to stop Ruto from succeeding Uhuru. 

• They have no clear leadership structure and no alternative candidate for the 2022 presidential race.

Deputy President William Ruto at the Salvation Army Kakamega Citadel, Kakamega County on April 14, 2019.
Deputy President William Ruto at the Salvation Army Kakamega Citadel, Kakamega County on April 14, 2019.
Image: DPPS

The political contest for the 2022 General Election has more or less taken shape in terms of the main contestants.

Two major camps have emerged as has been the case since the reintroduction of the multi-party democracy in 1991.

In the successive elections, two major formations have emerged famously referred to as horses by  Raila Odinga.

 

Alongside have always been fringe parties seeking to fill some ideological void or rebelling against the dominance of the big two.

In all the cases, the leading lights of the three tribes of political preeminence have led the brigades in the duel of the horses.

Therefore, in 1992, it was President Daniel Moi, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, and Kenneth Matiba. In 1997, it was Moi, Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga.

The Kikuyu were split equally between Uhuru Kenyatta and Kibaki to form alliances with Moi and Raila respectively in 2002.

Raila was with William Ruto in 2007, while the old professor of politics and his protégé, Uhuru, endorsed Kibaki’s reelection.

In 2013 and 2017, Raila found himself alone up against the UhuRuto juggernaut, which had the full support of the two former presidents.

Today, Kenyans seem to have gone full circle and face the prospects of the unlikely alliance of Uhuru and Raila against the Ruto behemoth.

 

The formations have crystalised into the Kieleweke and Tangatanga teams.

Tangatanga derives its name and formation from the public rebuke of Ruto by the President in Eastlands sometime in 2018.

Ruto’s allies chose to turn what appeared as a slur into a campaign slogan for the DP.

During the same period, the anti-Ruto forces were consolidating their grounds and found this to be the most opportune moment to launch their public campaigns against the DP.

Then followed the renewed fight against graft which put Ruto on shifting grounds. His opponents used the anti-corruption war to push to the wall claiming that he did not understand what he was up against; thus the Kitaelewekwa slogan and the Kieleweke group.

Central Kenya MPs in Parliament where they reiterated their unwavering support for President Uhuru Kenyatta and his development plans on January 8, 2018.
Central Kenya MPs in Parliament where they reiterated their unwavering support for President Uhuru Kenyatta and his development plans on January 8, 2018.
Image: JACK OWUOR

In their strategies, both teams are banking on Uhuru’s overt and covert actions to succeed.

Ruto is his deputy and they have an agreement to implement in terms of his succession.

On the other hand, Ruto is opposed to some of Uhuru’s projects meant to secure his legacy.

The Kieleweke Team comprises people closely associated with the President either through history, party and government or through the handshake.

It is thus not surprising that both camps make reference to his name as they seek to cut down each other.

The two teams have now become distinct in character and operations.

It is by dint of approach that Team Kieleweke appears to support the Tea, Tangatanga’s efforts. This could be either by default or design or both.

STOPPING RUTO

By default, Team Kieleweke are politicians driven by the desire to stop Ruto from succeeding Uhuru.

They have no clear leadership structure and no alternative candidate for the 2022 presidential race. In its ranks are Jubilee politicians without portfolio and many others who lost in the last elections.

They have been around and seem to lack freshness and fire in their bellies.

They have an alliance with opposition figures, who are smarting from two successive electoral loses.

These opposition politicians hope to use their proximity to power courtesy of the handshake to recoup billions sunk in previous campaigns.

They intend to use this alliance to re-strategise and make a comeback ostensibly with state backing. Their language is not in sync with the Jubilee mandarins.

This grouping is, therefore, not united in vision, traditions, and character.

This group consists of more strategists than field operatives. They have many in the boardrooms but few in the trenches.

They constantly pray that Uhuru and Raila will cement their handshake pact and provide leadership to them.

However, they are in a huge dilemma as they face the challenge of the clear command structure and the question of an alternative candidate.

The Jubilee wing of Team Kieleweke does not have a candidate who can upstage the second in command, who doubles as the Jubilee deputy party leader.

On the other hand, it would be farfetched if not foolhardy for Jubilee to shop a candidate from the opposition ranks.

The opposition is itself not in unanimity about their leadership and 2022 candidate.

Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa and Governor Ferdinand Waititu
Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa and Governor Ferdinand Waititu
Image: FILE

The fortunes of Team Tangatanga are on the rise. They have solidified into a team out of fear of government persecution and relative naivety.

The team comprises new MPs, governors and senators elected through the patronage of Ruto during the acrimonious Jubilee nominations. They have more of their future than past.

These young men and women from Central and beyond know that Uhuru has no political capital to offer in his last term.

Being in Tangatanga gives them an opportunity to build themselves and become key players and influence peddlers in the Ruto government.

The team has one absolute and irrefutable leader in the DP who is also their choice for 2022. They, therefore, have no burden of identifying their flagbearer, nor the baggage of old debts to settle.

They are vocal and exude youthful energy, which is necessary for traversing the length and breadth of the country as they sell their candidate.

The pockets and coffers of their benefactor seem deep and large. They are generous and philanthropic in their operations. This has endeared them to the citizens who generally wallow in abject poverty.

While the middle class appears to understand the negative and devastating effects of corruption, they are also active participants.

POLITICAL DEBT?

While crisscrossing the countryside, Ruto has cut for himself the image of a workaholic deputy assisting his boss in supervising the implementation of government projects.

Faulting him for doing his role as the principal assistant to Uhuru has not washed with the majority of the Jubilee bastions in Central Kenya.

The narrative of no political debt owed does not seem to sell as fast as was initially envisaged. While the ranks of Team Kieleweke in Central Kenya has been swelling, they lack the oomph necessary for such a gigantic and ruthless operation.

The increase in their numbers has been more of quantity than quality. This has conversely benefited Team Tangatanga, which is motivated and driven by self-preservation instinct.

The anti-corruption war has by default worked in favour of the Ruto camp.

 

They are the purveyors and beneficiaries of graft proceeds. Kenyans generally celebrate their kith and kin who are able to manipulate the government processes for personal aggrandisement.

Looters of public resources and grabbers of government assets for private use are considered heroes.

Many leaders are supported into office by their respective communities on account of expected community benefits through graft. Tangatanga has been fingered in the fight against corruption.

Initially, this crusade pushed the Ruto camp to the wall and seemed to be the straw that would break his back.

It later turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it galvanised the Tangatanga forces into a unified team.

They have to stick and hang together or risk being hanged separately and individually. Their supporters at the grassroots have come out in their numbers to defend their actions.

As usual, they find it difficult to directly connect their current status of under development to corruption. In any case, once their man and cohorts ascend to the throne, development and associated all else will be guaranteed.

The team has done a good propaganda job in portraying the anti-graft war as ethnically targeted and weaponised. Kieleweke also finds it difficult to enthusiastically champion the war since it exposes weaknesses in government processes, which are under their leader, Uhuru, as President.

The Kielewke group has thus relied on the opposition figures to be the champions of this crusade, yet some of them also actively seek to manipulate tender processes through the handshake.

While the easiest way to amass campaign resources is through government business, Team Kieleweke has the arduous task of maintaining a holier than thou image. Tangatanga has no such burden since by claiming to be targeted they have admitted complicity.

Money matters and in Kenya it matters much more. The Tangatanga team has money in more abundance than their Kielewke counterparts, at least in appearance.

On the other hand, Uhuru might have decided to help his deputy succeed him by isolating and exposing him to early campaigns.

This has helped Ruto to cut an image of being his own man and separate from Uhuru. The President has further pushed this agenda by inviting Raila into the government and therefore neutered the opposition forces.

If this becomes the case, then Uhuru may have just delivered the presidency to Ruto by backhand strategies and settled his part of the deal in their 2013 MoU.


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