Kikuyus misled Ruto and hustlers cannot make him President

Ruto does not currently have a winning coalition that can sustain his political survival.

In Summary

• At the moment the principle of hereditary succession seems to be betraying William Ruto and he is avoiding facing this betrayal to his political detriment. 

• Remaining in Jubilee, coupled with the retreat to Karen and Sugoi is passively-aggressive and does not make good politics.

Deputy President WillIiam Ruto interacting with beneficiaries of Nairobi Youth and Women Groups empowerment program on July 9, 2020 at his Karen residence.
Deputy President WillIiam Ruto interacting with beneficiaries of Nairobi Youth and Women Groups empowerment program on July 9, 2020 at his Karen residence.
Image: DPPS

The saying goes that a problem unless well-defined can never be solved. A problem well defined is as good as half solved. The Kenyan political temperament is rife with anxiety, suspicion, and discontent. And one man- William Ruto is at the center of it all. Can we solve Ruto's problems before 2022? Let us explore the logic for his political survival.

We can begin by outlining William Ruto's problems. One, at the moment the principle of hereditary succession seems to be betraying William Ruto and he is avoiding facing this betrayal to his political detriment. The endorsement of 2013 with Uhuru Kenyatta is dead. There has been a new elite consensus (thanks in large part due to the Handshake).

Two, Ruto simply put does not currently have a winning coalition that can sustain his political survival. Three, Ruto has been misled by the house of GEMA. And four, Ruto does not have a worthy enemy.

If we break this down we can start to animate the reason for his political survival or elimination. The original sin to Ruto's problems began in 2013 when he agreed with Kenyatta and himself based on goodwill and a promise; that both parties would act in good faith and let Ruto be the chief successor after two presidential terms.

Yet as Hobbes aptly put it "Covenants, without the sword, are but words and of no strength to secure a man at all." Now we see that the orderly succession of power that Ruto envisioned after Uhuru's two terms is falling apart. But in this crisis, there is an opportunity for Ruto.

At all costs, Ruto should not bank on his incumbency. In the past, this has not translated into an automatic smooth transition to the presidency. Ruto's inability to deal with the current betrayal fast is getting in the way of exercising his political liberty, his ability to pursue those things that he is entitled to.



The next election is setting itself up to be a battle between the ethnic oligarchs. At the nexus of this will be a class struggle. A class struggle that has been amplified by a brutal coronavirus pandemic. The scene of the struggle has been framed as "the hustlers versus the dynasties".

Dynasties in this context being those coming from families with generational assets, those thought to be groomed for leadership to protect the family's wealth and political interests.

In Kenya, only a few have been admitted into this privileged league; so far, they include Uhuru Kenyatta, Gideon Moi, Raila Odinga. In the traditional sense, dynasty successors are born. Uhuru born to succeed Jomo Kenyatta, Raila born to succeed Jaramogi and Gideon to succeed Daniel Arap Moi.

I wish to admit Ruto as a dynasty-in-waiting. Ruto has often been misrepresented as a hustler, and even though he did not inherit generational political assets, his political origins are dynastical.

Ruto has shown himself to be a loyal political student to the dynasties, first with the House of Moi and more recently with the House of Kenyatta. Political survival, therefore, means making a shift from mass-made "hustler" politics, to that of a Prince, embracing elite consensus and circulation.

In addressing his second problem, Ruto must at all costs make friends and build a winning coalition! Ruto urgently needs concrete political allies with actual constituents, not just "talking heads".

Isolation has so far proved to be a dangerous strategy. His primary focus has been an amorphous social group known as the "hustler", but in reality-they ultimately will not win him the election, their loyalty is often fickle, transient, and patronage-based.

As such, the over-reliance on handing out resources to the masses could be a misleading indicator of popularity. The Dictators Handbook reminds us that political power is best ensured and maintained when you depend on a few essential cronies to attain and retain office.

Which leads me to the next disagreement – it has been thought that Ruto has singlehandedly been behind the confusion of the GEMA nation, accused of playing in the president's backyard. But I posit – that GEMA may have misled William Ruto in return. Ruto's folly may have been to misunderstand the intentions of the Kikuyu.

In Voegel's philosophy, GEMA continues to stay true to who they are. A people that suffer from Libido Dominundi- that is, the urge to dominate, the lust for government, the will to power. Have they just been exploiting Ruto to get Uhuru's much-needed attention back?

Lastly, Ruto must learn to benefit from his enemies. Moi had a worthy enemy in Kibaki, Kenyatta had one in Jaramogi, and previously Uhuru had one in Raila. One needs a good enemy to become a fierce political animal. The presidency requires that one have a high threshold for pain.

Ruto seems to be choosing the path of least resistance with his recent moves. Remaining in Jubilee, coupled with the retreat to Karen and Sugoi is passively-aggressive and does not make good politics.

If Raila killed the opposition, shouldn't William Ruto pick this mantle up? Discontent is the ultimate seed of change, one will never change a situation in which one tolerates.

Faith is a Development Economist and Consultant, passionate about Political Economy. Engage with her on Twitter @semasana or email her [email protected]