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Rebuttal to “10 reasons why DP Ruto will be next president”

Ruto is only fighting to survive and he knows the prospect of becoming president in 2022 is fast fading away.

In Summary

• If you think Kikuyus who are supporting Ruto are doing for their love for the man or because Uhuru promised him 10 years, you are completely naïve and have no clue what is going on.

• If Uhuru wanted to, he could have the DP arrested and once again charged with corruption, except this time he will be bogged down with case after case to have room to breathe, let alone run for president.

Deputy President William Ruto engages residents of Kisii town on my way to Kitutu Chache South and South Mugirango for boda boda, women and youth groups empowerment programmes on September 10, 2020
Deputy President William Ruto engages residents of Kisii town on my way to Kitutu Chache South and South Mugirango for boda boda, women and youth groups empowerment programmes on September 10, 2020
Image: DPPS

In a column published by the Star, its writer Henry Makori purported to offer these reasons which I now take time to dissect and show how none of them stands in the face of any scrutiny.

To offer full context of what Makori said in the piece, I quote him verbatim and what he said is in italics.

Kenyans love a fighter. The person who stands up to great odds is often a hero, regardless of what the fight is about.

Goes without saying and this is not peculiar to Kenyans alone; it’s a universal concept going back ages.

Ahead of the 2013 election, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto turned their arraignment at the ICC into an anti-imperialist platform and gave their opponents a run for their money.

True, even though I would not call that giving their opponents a “run for their money” as that phrase is commonly used. That phrase implies or assumes a certain level of fairness and open competition, not a competition where one side is aided by state machinery as was the case in 2013 where Uhuru and Ruto were the beneficiaries of state machinery.

In contrast, the likes of Kalonzo Musyoka and Musalia Mudavadi, never known for a fight, hardly stir public emotion.

True but only to a certain extent.

Today, Ruto is the only fighter among political bigwigs.

False. Ruto is only fighting to survive and he knows the prospect of becoming president in 2022 is fast fading away. Put another way, the only way Ruto now becomes president is (a) convincing the system he is not the threat he is believed to be or (b) sits this one out but backs Raila or whoever Uhuru and Raila tosha, if it is not Raila.

Makori then goes on to give what he fashions as “10 reasons why he has a chance of becoming the fifth President:”—again, what he says is in italics.

1. UHURU BETRAYAL

Ruto keeps his head high despite open betrayal by his boss.

Not true. Although in some cases Ruto has said words which in isolation can be interpreted as being the obedient deputy to the president, in many cases he has said and done things that directly undermine that position and, what he has not done to downright show contempt for Uhuru, his minions have done that for him without abandon, and obviously with his tacit approval.

As to “betrayal,” one can’t call what has happened between Uhuru and Ruto “betrayal.” True, Uhuru promised to support Ruto after completion of his term or the so-called “kumi kumi” pledge. But politicians not keeping promises given is nothing new; in fact, is one thing that all politicians have in common, namely, never take any of their words or promises as a given. If circumstances change, a politician will change direction and cause accordingly.

Kibaki shred his MoU with Raila and he went on to serve as president for 10 years. Raila has shred his MoU and he will use state machinery to have his successor of choice to come in as president and nothing Ruto can do to stop that, much as Raila was unable to stop Kibaki—and Raila had twice the support across the nation as Ruto does.

Uhuru has practically kicked him out of government and the ruling party, hounded some of his allies out of parliamentary leadership and targeted others in a selective war on graft.

True.

Ruto’s refusal to buckle under pressure will serve him well.

The odds are he will buckle under the tremendous pressure he is on and resign as deputy president; if not, those who want him out will find other ways to force him out.

2. REFERENDUM IS UNPOPULAR

The prevailing view seems to be that a referendum is not what the country needs now but better implementation of the Constitution.

This is a view held by Ruto and those who support him. Obviously, there is the original view that remains and that is the one held by Uhuru, Raila and those who want to see an end to electoral violence every five years. That view is BBI is the solution and that is soon likely to come to pass.

Many believe the planned changes are not for the common good but to benefit Uhuru and Raila and lock out Ruto.

“Many” here means Ruto and those who support him. I refer you to my comment above.

 Like happened in 2005, Ruto is busy turning the referendum against the two.

Though there are some similarities between efforts to revamp the constitution in 2005 and what is being sought in implementing BBI, there are also dissimilarities that are even greater and dispositive of why Ruto cannot have a repeat of 2005. For one, the architect of 2005 revolt against Kibaki is this time protagonist in what would be the equivalent of Kibaki side in 2005. Ruto is no match for that and therefore put this one on the Yes column in terms of BBI referendum passage.

3. RAILA’S BETRAYAL OF SUPPORTERS

The handshake killed the Raila brand.

False.

While there are many Raila supporters who were disillusioned with Raila’s decision to shake hands with Uhuru for they wanted him to lead them into a revolution or even a secessionist movement, those supporters themselves were and remain to be ill-advised and ill-informed. Raila’s move was a masterstroke that meets and surpasses opposition objectives and I’ll elaborate on this in my next column or one I’ll pen soon.

His millions of supporters wanted nothing short of a revolution following the repeat 2017 presidential election he boycotted.

I would not say “millions” but a significant portion among those who closely follow politics. That number is coming down to fewer and fewer because many now understand what the handshake was intended to deliver and is poised to do just that.

That was the point of Raila’s swearing-in as the “people’s president” on January 30, 2018.

It may have been (and I was personally opposed to the move and told Raila as much) but the handshake is the better alternative for a myriad of reasons no need to get into here.

The handshake was a painful betrayal and demobilized his support base – except the “cows.”

Again, initially, many of Raila’s supporters may have been disillusioned and even demoralized by the handshake but over time that has changed as nearly all of them now see the benefit of the handshake and what dividends lie in wait for its implementation.

Ruto will try to capitalize on Raila’s disgruntled supporters.

He is already doing that but he will fall short as what he is up against is simply insurmountable.

4. CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS

Ruto has turned the war on corruption against Uhuru.

It is a decision he will live to regret.

People who argued that Uhuru was rich and could not be involved in corruption if he rose to power have had good reason to rethink that view.

That’s neither here nor there; what matters is Uhuru has the instruments and he can cause real pain for those engaged in corruption than anyone can ever do against him. With Raila on his side, this is a war those they target cannot possibly ever win.

Corruption accusations cannot stop one from being elected in Kenya. Ruto knows this.

Not true; if Uhuru wanted to, he could have the DP arrested and once again charged with corruption, except this time he will be bogged down with case after case to have room to breathe, let alone run for president. Just because this has not been done before does not mean the system doesn’t have it as one of its arrows in the quiver.

Kenyans tolerate corruption because of state failure. Given a chance, many would readily use public office for private gain. Graft is accepted as “working smart”

That may be true, but it is a double-edged sword. See my comment above.

5. HUSTLER NATION

Jubilee promised Kenyans, especially the youth, heaven. It has delivered hell. Ruto has distanced himself from the government and resorted to using his money to help jobless youths (hustlers).

You cannot have your cake and have it! Ruto was fully in Jubilee for five years and he can’t run away from that record and say he is now for the “hustler” simply because he has been kicked out of Jubilee and the government for all practical purposes and intent.

The gullible will believe that use of money Ruto is accused of having obtained by corrupt means “to help the jobless” is somehow Godsent and a ticket to State House as president.

Far from it.

We do not need individuals dishing out money (a few shillings) to the poor and calling that a solution to what we need to have done. That was the whole basis of Moi politics—recall he said he can buy any vote for 100 bob. To promote this type of politics is the very definition of backwardness.

 This contrasts with the “dynasties” who are disconnected from the sufferings of Kenyans as they cut backroom deals to retain power and accumulate more.

This “dynasty v us” narrative is a fallacy peddled by Ruto and his supporters when Ruto is no different and probably worse than the purported dynasties themselves.

Reminds me of one Donald J Trump who fooled poor and racist whites that he is one of them and will help them fight to keep America white and he succeeded in doing so but those same whites and racists are no better off than they were in 2016; in fact, they are worse off!

Were Uhuru to become president, the poor will remain poor because there is no vision he has he could not have had implemented as deputy president and we no of no legislation or proposals he put forth to improve the conditions of the poor or to create jobs.

Everything he promised, the stadiums, the factories and so on none came to pass so he suffers the consequences though not exactly as Uhuru who, for his part, he simply wants to leave a country more peaceful and on a path to the development that eluded the duo last 7 years.

6. NOT ANOTHER KIKUYU

Kenya’s politics is tribal. Everyone is aware three of Kenya’s four presidents are Kikuyu, two of them father and son. Uhuru told Kenyans he would support Ruto to succeed him. Jomo Kenyatta and Mwai Kibaki betrayed allies who backed them to get state power. Ruto could benefit from the Kikuyu hoi polloi who reject being branded as betrayers one more time.

Here is a reality check for you: If you think Kikuyus who are supporting Ruto are doing for their love for the man or because Uhuru promised him 10 years, you are completely naïve and have no clue what is going on.

The only reason Ruto has enjoyed the support he did in Kikuyu nation is twofold:

One, hatred of Raila in the region. Not all, but a large segment of the Kikuyu community can’t stand the notion of Raila becoming president. These poor folks have been so programmed all their lives it is virtually impossible to cure them of this disease but, thankfully, more and more of the community is now starting to warm up to the notion of Raila being president because of no less an effort by Uhuru and his men and women to reverse cause and say this is the right thing to do.

Two, Ruto engaged in a stealth campaign for years to woo politicians from the region to support him. Support for Ruto in Kikuyuland is as firm as a house built on sand. Yes, the money Ruto has spent in the region has endeared him to many, but the support is as artificial as any can be. Once BBI is implemented and the campaigns roll around, nearly all that support will evaporate and all but the hardcore haters of Uhuru because he now loves Raila as his brother will not back his preferred successor. Keep in mind, it will be the first time the Kikuyu vote will be split but Raila or anyone Uhuru backs other than Ruto need not have the near unanimous vote from the region, only enough to provide the requisite margin of 50%+1.

7. CLOSE TO CHURCH

Ruto is an evangelical Christian. It makes strategic sense that he has focused his philanthropy on raising funds for churches. Delegations of church leaders’ troop to his Karen and Sugoi homes nearly every day. Kenya is a majority Christian nation and the Church has massive political influence.

There are two types of Christians: those who exploit Christianity to enrich themselves and those who genuinely advance Christianity in the true meaning and spirit of the faith. The former are no different from your ordinary crooked politician busy stealing from the public till; in fact, these types of fake Christians will gladly welcome such stolen loot as good for “spreading the word of God” when in reality the loot is good for them and their lifestyles.

The latter Christians (those who truly live up to the faith’s calling) can only be neutral and guide their congregants as the spirit leads them, not because of having been bribed to do so.

Given this dynamic, I wouldn’t put much stock that Ruto is an Evangelical, much like I would put any stock in 2020 that Evangelicals still support Trump in America; if you’re in a sinking boat, nothing will stop you from sinking the only thing you must do is get your life-vest on and hope to be rescued by someone—in this case that someone is the next government.

8. HE STARTED EARLY

Ruto has been a 2022 presidential candidate for the last seven years. He backed Uhuru to inherit Central votes.

This is also his undoing; had Ruto lied low and waiting for a more opportune time to strike, he would not have alienated and alarmed many in the system as he has to have them draw and aim their weapons at him to politically finish him as they have. So, this is a net minus than it is any gain.

Other politicians have declared their intention to run but many of them – Kalonzo, Mudavadi, Mwangi wa Iria – pose no serious challenge.

True.

Raila, whom Uhuru is expected to back following the handshake, has not declared he will run. That makes Ruto the frontrunner in the coming election even going by current opinion polls.

True but only to an extent. Raila has not declared but you can take it to the bank barring something catastrophic, Raila will be on the ballot for 2022. That being the case, if Uhuru backs him as he is expected to, it will be all but a foregone conclusion he will be our next president—regardless of how Ruto performs or even whether he vies at all.

9. JUBILEE IS DEAD

Whoever Uhuru will support would likely split Jubilee even further. The expected coalition between the ruling party and ODM (and possibly other parties) will take time to cobble together. By the time their compromise candidate will hit the ground, Ruto would already be miles ahead.

As I and others have repeatedly said and repeat here, most gains Ruto made in Mt. Kenya region have been erased already and, going forward, the powers that be will make sure the man from Sugoi has no room to breathe, let alone mount a serious presidential campaign.

Put another way, the system’s preferred candidate will be our next president.

Ruto was the beneficiary of that system, he knows how sweet it is to be sworn against all odds and having not won at the polls as was the case for him and Uhuru, now let him be prepared to suffer the same medicine as prescribed by the very same system.

10. INCUMBENCY ADVANTAGE 

Unlike his mostly lackluster competitors, and despite being isolated by Uhuru, Ruto is the second highest-placed insider in the current government.

False, I assume you are not including Raila as a “lackluster competitor” but, given the man will vie barring something catastrophic, the man (Raila) is the second highest placed insider in the current government, not Ruto.

Conversely, were Raila not to vie, then whoever he and Uhuru back (and they will under that scenario) will have all the benefits of incumbency and Ruto will have none, not even being in government altogether.

He enjoys the trappings of power and the privileges of incumbency.

Not anymore.

Ruto is for all practical purposes and intent merely an occupant of an office in title but nothing else.

Having an office with no power and scant budget to do anything is not exactly having the power and privileges of incumbency.

He knows how the system works and will likely use that knowledge to great political advantage.

Partially true.

As one who knows how the system works, he will be the first one to tell you it’s virtually impossible to beat it no matter who you are but he’s putting on a brave face knowing he will soon or later succumb to it.

In other words, Ruto knows once the system has rejected his prospect to become our next president, that will be the case and, more importantly, if he tries to show he has the proverbial bigger balls than anyone who has tried and failed before him, the system has other arrows in the quiver to render his candidacy a non-starter to begin with.

Wiser counsel would be for Ruto to accept the fate, lie low and live to fight another day.

In 2027 or 2032, that is.