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NASA BREAK-UP

Uhuru anxious about Nasa left-outs could hand Ruto 2022 political lifeline

Uhuru's decision on 2022 heir could trigger a falling-out in Nasa , with Ruto reaping the spoils and teaming up with 'losers'

In Summary
  • Nasa's eventual disintegration boosts Ruto 2022 presidential prospects.
  • Mudavadi's flurry of meetings at his Mudavadi Centre with a galaxy of politicians has triggered speculation about his working with Ruto in 2022.
Nasa co-principals Raila Odinga, Musalia Mudavadi, Isaac Rutto, Moses Wetang'ula and Kalonzo Musyoka during a rally in Uhuru Park, Nairobi, on April 27, 2017.
TUKO PAMOJA? Nasa co-principals Raila Odinga, Musalia Mudavadi, Isaac Rutto, Moses Wetang'ula and Kalonzo Musyoka during a rally in Uhuru Park, Nairobi, on April 27, 2017.
Image: JACK OWUOR

An eventual disintegration of Nasa, whose big boys are scrambling for President Uhuru Kenyatta's endorsement, could hand besieged Deputy President William Ruto a 2022 political lifeline.

Three Nasa co-principals – Raila Odinga (ODM), Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper) and Musalia Mudavadi (ANC) – are all fighting to get President Kenyatta’s blessing for the country’s top job in 2022.

Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula and Chama Cha Mashinani leader and ex-Bomet Governor Isaac Rutto are the other Nasa co-principals.

 

Then there is Gideon Moi of Kanu whose father, President Daniel Moi, nurtured Uhuru politically.

There are signals that some Nasa principals want the moribund outfit declared officially dead to unlock their binding ties and forge new alliances.

All of them have gladly backed Uhuru in trying to annihilate Ruto and his allies as the political ground shifts.

Uhuru is on the horns of a dilemma over how to compensate the Nasa bigwigs for their political support that gave him a lifeline when Ruto wanted to render him a lame-duck President.

Uhuru would be totally unable to deal with Ruto without the political support he has received from opposition leaders, some of whom have previously been his bitter rivals.

One thing is certain: If he had to, Uhuru could only anoints one of them.

Such a decision would have massive political implications that might see the rest walk away and easily team up with Ruto.

 

WILL UHURU PICK HIS SUCCESSOR?

Former Cabinet Minister Franklin Bett told the Star President Kenyatta would most likely not handpick his successor and instead would allow politicians to battle it out.

“I am seeing him (Uhuru) not caring much about who succeeds him. He wants to leave a legacy. I am seeing a lot of brutality from him in the coming months as he narrows down his agenda to at least two items that he can be remembered for,” Bett said.

President Kenyatta had been promoting his Big Four agenda. It was already in trouble for lack of funding. Then the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

I am seeing the President picking his heir, and if he won't make a public declaration, then it would be obvious who it would be
Herman Manyora

But political analyst and University of Nairobi lecturer Herman Manyora told the Star all indications are that the President would openly settle on his successor.

He was categorical that his successor would be drawn from the proponents of the Building Bridges Initiative, a project that Uhuru passionately backs.

“I am seeing the President picking his heir, and if he won't make a public declaration, then it would be obvious who it would be," Manyora said.

He said Ruto is not one of Uhuru's options.

Regarding the possibility of a falling out among Nasa before 2022, Manyora said that would be far-fetched as the brigade would be more than united by BBI.

Manyora advises Ruto to eat humble pie, take a break in 2022 and wait for what he termed “his real chances in 2027".

I see a falling out after the 2022 presidential contest. That is why I would advise Ruto to hold on and pick the spoils from the post-2022 falling out,” he said adding that even if runs in 2022, he would lose.

Ruto's post-2017 aggressive nationwide campaigns had enabled him to build formidable grassroots support that had threatened Uhuru's popularity, even in his Mt Kenya backyard.

Uhuru's decision to bring on board Raila through the 2018 handshake, changed the 2022 succession matrix.

Raila is now Uhuru's bosom buddy and a key figure in the government, where a looming reorganisation is likely to hand him the role of superintending the recovery of the economy.

Ruto's fears are that Uhuru might endorse Raila as his successor in 2022, despite their supposed 2013 pact that was said to provide for the President finishing his two terms, then ushering in Ruto for a decade's rule.

Raila enjoys a larger-than-life stature in government, raising eyebrows and prompting speculation that Uhuru could be grooming him to assume the mantle.

Kanu's post-election agreement with Jubilee signals a possible Raila-Gideon arrangement to succeed Uhuru.

The only person not affected is Raila. He doesn't need to look good since from the time he shook hands with Uhuru, things are going his way. Only the rest are scrambling
Prof Macharia Munene

USIU professor of Diplomacy and International Relations Macharia Munene said while other Nasa co-principals are battling for Uhuru's attention, Raila doesn't have to.

“The only person not affected is Raila. He doesn't need to look good since from the time he shook hands with Uhuru, things are going his way. Only the rest are scrambling," he said

Munene said Uhuru will be a major factor in the 2022 polls and is possibly rolling out a succession plan that does not include DP Ruto.

“Since Uhuru will not endorse everybody, there is going to be a realignment in 2022 and those who are fighting today might become the best of friends," Munene said, hinting that Ruto might reunite with his current enemies.

There are concerns the President's choice of successor might trigger a storm that could reunite current enemies in the lead-up to 2022.

Politicians and analysts agree that Uhuru's ultimate endorsement would likely usher in a grand reunion of political adversaries in what might hand Ruto a lifeline in his bid for State House.

Mudavadi's heightened activities lately include meetings with Ruto's allies, sparking debate about a possible Ruto-Mudavadi alliance in 2022.

Mudavadi has denied planning to work with Ruto.

The falling-out would rekindle Kanu's 2002 last-minute break up that saw key figures who had expected President Daniel Moi's endorsement walkout, a jilted lot.

Ruto is facing a vicious and aggressive onslaught from Uhuru, diminishing his initially clear chances of succeeding him.

Under fire from the President and having been boxed out of the nerve centre of power, Ruto could team up with disgruntled heavyweights who might also miss out on Uhuru's favour.

The DP is said to have no chance of landing Uhuru's endorsement owing to the widening cracks between them but his potential reunion with top guns might well complicate the President's succession plans.

Ruto has been isolated from the government and his key allies have been purged from powerful positions in Parliament in a radical shake-up that appears to have destroyed him politically.

More of Ruto's close allies occupying influential positions in the Executive are targeted as the President moves to consolidate his government to deliver on his legacy, two years to the end of his term.

UHURU'S TAKE

During an interview with NTV on Wednesday night, the President affirmed that he has run out of time and would divorce any politician blocking his path to delivering his agenda.

"I do not have that much time to go and so I cannot continue pleading. So if you feel you are not able to work in tandem with my agenda, please then, why don't you let me put in somebody who is eager and keen to help me fulfill that agenda?” Uhuru said.

In a veiled attack at Ruto, he warned that some politicians he has shoved away were blinded by their ambitions, not focusing on the present.

"Do not let your ambitions of tomorrow cloud what you must do today. What you do today is what shall determine where you shall be tomorrow. That's all and it is as basic as that to me," Uhuru said.

The President's sweeping remarks appeared to buttress his shift away from Ruto in firming up his legacy amid concerns that most of his promises in 2013 and 2017 remain a pipe dream.

For the President, it is a race against time to salvage his legacy. Two years is nothing.

NO TIME LEFT

Bett, the former Buret MP and a liberal voice in Ruto's Rift Valley backyard, said the President was ready to crush any politician appearing to derail is agenda.

“I am going to see a President determined to achieve his legacy. He would crush anybody standing in his way to his legacy. He wants to go home with a legacy,” said the former State House comptroller during the Moi era.

Bett said he expects the President soon to reorganise government and bring on board experienced leaders to help deliver on his legacy projects.

Political analyst Danstan Omari said the DP might give the Nasa bigwigs a run for their money in the 2022 polls because he might team up with one or two of them.

“When Uhuru anoints his successor, they will find Ruto ready to name a running mate from among the people who are scrambling for Uhuru's favour now," he said.

Omari claimed Nasa leaders have decided to work with Uhuru because they want to build their financial war chests ahead of 2022 - and nothing else.

"Uhuru will be deserted by 2021 the way Moi was deserted in 2002. Uhuru will only be a factor up to mid-2021. From there, everybody would be looking for survival and Ruto might get the greatest advantage,” the lawyer said.

MOI ANOINTED UHURU 

If Uhuru decided to handpick his successor, he would be the second after his mentor Moi, who overlooked senior players to settle on him in 2002.

Moi's decision to settle on Uhuru - then seen as a political greenhorn - forced key heavyweights angling for his endorsement to jump ship for the opposition in a bitter revenge game.

Moi's controversial endorsement led to a massive fallout in Kanu and the building up of the Narc coalition that swept to power in 2002.

Raila who had earlier merged his NDP party with Kanu would later lead a walkout from Kanu, including  George Saitoti and Kalonzo Musyoka.

The rebel faction identified as the Rainbow Alliance later joined the NAK of Mwai Kibaki, Kijana Wamalwa and Charity Ngilu to form Narc, the opposition coalition that ended the Independence Party's reign.

Ruto was then backing Uhuru for the top job.

For the country's third President, Mwai Kibaki, the succession script was different.

When his turn came to retire, Kibaki never publicly endorsed his successor in what analysts say threw the 2013 presidential contest wide open.

The 2008 Grand Coalition government in which Raila served as Prime Minister and Kalonzo as Vice President had occasionally squabbled as they battled for Kibaki's endorsement.

However, Kibaki - whose last term has been hailed for triggering a massive economic growth across sectors because of his grand infrastructural projects - opted not to directly endorse his successor.

Kibaki's sudden move triggered heartbreaks.

Raila would then unite with Kalonzo in the Cord coalition as Ruto joined hands with Uhuru once more to fight it out in 2013.

Uhuru and Ruto running under the Jubilee coalition trounced Raila's Cord coalition in the highly charged polls that were disputed unsuccessfully at the Supreme Court.