JUBILEE SHIP SINKING

Uhuru has conned Ruto, time to weigh options

The President is on record supporting a 10-year Ruto presidency. What has changed and what are the political implications of a sudden about-turn?

In Summary

• Jubilee has failed Ruto mainly because it was premised on the wrong foundation.

• One of its pillars was the selfish acquisition of power and there is always a price to be paid for that.

President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga during the National Anti-Corruption Conference at Bomas on January 25, 2019.
UHURUTO: President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga during the National Anti-Corruption Conference at Bomas on January 25, 2019.
Image: DPPS

Our politics have hit turbulence and the Good Ship Jubilee is listing precariously and in real and present danger of capsizing.

The Captain, President Uhuru Kenyatta, appears to have abandoned ship and has left everything to his deputy, William Ruto. It is up to Ruto to steer the ship out of treacherous waters or sink it. 

The Jubilee Party, a brainchild of Ruto, was formed to unite the TNA and URP wings, among others, in the run-up to the 2017 General Election.

It was a special purpose vehicle to propel the nominated party aspirant to the presidency in 2022. It was designed to put all party members, including senators, MPs and MCAs into a 'straight jacket' in preparation for a specific future event. It was part of the plan to rule Kenya continuously for 20 years.

The August 2017 presidential election failed to pan out as planned by Jubilee. Indeed, it turned out to be an unmitigated disaster when the Supreme Court nullified it and ordered a fresh election due to irregularities.

President Kenyatta reacted with uncharacteristic anger and issued some unprintable epithets towards the person of the Chief Justice and the Supreme Court.

The opposition coalition Nasa boycotted the repeat presidential election in October 2017 and Jubilee got a walkover. Raila Odinga, however, refused to recognise Uhuru as elected President and proceeded to swear himself in as the People’s President.

The game plan was to deny Uhuru legitimacy, something every President of any democratic state craves. Then came the famous or infamous handshake that completed our political terrain. Raila, then Uhuru’s nemesis, has become a darling in the new bromance, while Ruto has been slowly yet surely shunted to the periphery.

The double-barrelled question is, has President Kenyatta conned Ruto? Kenyans ask this question because the President is on record supporting a 10-year Ruto presidency. What has changed and what are the political implications of a sudden about-turn?

Ruto could, of course, soldier on as a lone ranger and pull off a Moi-era stunt! The problem with this kind of strategy is that his opponents are well aware of the game plan and will create mechanisms to trip him up. His other option is to abandon ship and join another party.

This is a painful prospect for a man who built Jubilee almost single-handedly. If he takes this option, it must be done immediately as the next presidential election is barely two years away. That way, he would leave Uhuru holding a dead baby.

Once again his opponents would be delighted as it would now give them a head-start on a man who was recently 'light years' away in the presidential race. The truth be told: The man is an awesome politician who puts more work into a task than all his opponents combined.

The indefatigable teetotaller puts in a punishing daily schedule of 18-20 hours that only a select few can maintain.

If Ruto successfully cobbles together another party and gets a good shot at General Election 2022, he will have paid both the President and all his opponents with the same coin. Whether he has the courage, mental strength and wherewithal is not in doubt.

Jubilee has failed Ruto mainly because it was premised on the wrong foundation. It was a special-purpose vehicle to propel two people to power and could only work with both parties operating in tandem.

One of its pillars was the selfish acquisition of power and there is always a price to be paid for that. The moment one partner jumped ship, then the others’ political goose was cooked. When and why it happened is anybody’s guess.

The President is playing his cards very close to his chest and appears belligerent and perpetually angry. For Ruto and his allies, it is the unkindest cut of all, it is the worst form of betrayal. They must weigh their options pronto.