Nothing wrong with seeking ethnic support for 2022

Leaders are seeking to gain from their ethnic political base as they reach out for support from other communities

In Summary

• There is no leader who has captured any key position in the country without a strong political base from his or her community.

• In a democratic society, DP Ruto and Senator Moi are at liberty to consolidate their tribal backings —  their bargaining chip in their quest for the highest position in the land.

Baringo Senator Gideon Moi and Deputy President William Ruto
SUPREMACY BATTLE: Baringo Senator Gideon Moi and Deputy President William Ruto
Image: FILE

An article appearing in last weekend’s Siasa pullout with the headline ‘Community-based leadership behind Ruto-Gideon supremacy wars’ was misleading and cannot go unchallenged.

The rivalry among Kenyan leaders is not something new. It, however, shapes the political agenda and prepares the next course of action.

What the country is witnessing as it prepares for the next general election is leaders seeking to gain a firm ethnic political base as they reach out for support from other communities.


This causes political rivalry and bad blood, especially among leaders from the same community eying top key positions, be it in Parliament or the presidency.

But what we are witnessing between Deputy President William Ruto and Baringo Senator Gideon Moi is a repeat of what has happened before.

There is no leader who has captured any key position in the country without a strong political base from his or her community.

In fact, this is a key rule in Kenyan ethnic politics that keeps on manifesting itself in each election period.

Ruto, who is the Jubilee deputy party leader, and Gideon, who is the Kanu chairman — both hailing from the Kalenjin community — read from different political scripts and subscribe to different opinions dictated by their parties’ constitutions.

This makes it difficult for Kalenjin leaders and other opinion shapers to bring them together without consolidating their parties’ manifestos.

The difference in opinion and approach to issues affecting the Kalenjins and Kenyans at large does not necessarily mean that Ruto and Gideon are in a political war and are going for each other’s throats.

Each candidate is there to market his party’s ideologies to the masses without necessarily ethicising his objectives.

In a democratic society, both leaders are at liberty to consolidate their tribal backings, which forms their bargaining chip in their quest for the highest position in the land.

But a sober reflection on Rift Valley politics would, however, reveal that Gideon is no match for Ruto, whichever political metrics you take into account.  That Ruto is the Deputy President while Gideon is a senator speaks volumes. Each one is sticking to his lane by dint of the clout he wields and the weight of his political punch ahead of the 2022 elections.

However, individuals, including former MP Koigi Wamwere, are trivialising politics between DP Ruto and Senator Moi to be a war between the Tugen and the Nandi Kalenjin subtribes — they're getting it wrong.

The country has experienced a lot of political transformation since independence and no leader can ascend to the presidency without the backing of other communities.

In the spirit of service delivery, Ruto has made several tours and initiated various development projects in Gideon’s Baringo county.

In fact, the majority of lawmakers — senators, MPs and MCAs — were elected under Jubilee, of which Ruto is the deputy party leader.

Likewise, Gideon in his capacity as Kanu chairman has been traversing the country, including his home ground of Rift Valley, selling his party ideology.

The people will decide in 2022.

What should come out clear is that the Kanu and Jubilee manifestos are incompatible, like water and paraffin, and this fact has seemingly infused itself into the political veins of some leaders in both parties.

In any case, they are entitled to defend the manifestos of their parties for this forms the ground on why they should be elected to higher position.

But it would be wrong for some leaders to equate the political scenario in the country to what happened during detentions soon after the country gained Independence.

It’s unfortunate that some leaders, such as the late Jean-Marie Seroney, underwent a lot of torture while championing for the rights of his Nandi community. These are political events that cannot be encouraged in the current democracy.

It is now clear that some leaders, including ODM chief Raila Odinga, Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka as well as ANC’s Musalia Mudavadi, have been streaming to Kabarak to meet former President Daniel Moi to perhaps indicate that a coalition between them and Senator Moi was in the offing,  to compete against Ruto’s Jubilee in 2022.

This is why in the current state of affairs, there is no single party that can ascend to power without forming a coalition with other like-minded parties.

But for a fact, Jubilee currently enjoys majority support and representation in the National Assembly, the Senate and in the county assemblies, not only among the Kalenjin communities but also in many parts of the country because of its ideology of unity and development.

It is on this grounds that DP Ruto wants to keep the party intact as he aims  to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2022

The DP has taken the lead in embracing inclusive politics by bringing together several parties to form the Jubilee Party.

In the vote-rich Rift Valley, for instance, the majority of the Kalenjin, the Nandi and the Tugen included, support Jubilee without necessarily displaying their ethnic differences, which in any case is non-existent.

This is why leaders and opinion shapers claiming that community-based leadership is behind Ruto-Gideon supremacy wars are missing the point.

Kaino works for the DP's press office. Comments here are his own.