LIGHTWEIGHTS IMPORTANT

New political alliance no match for Ruto

Whoever, emerges tops in the next general elections will have to find a way of accommodating the new alliance to win in the ensuing run-off elections.

In Summary

• Fragile, tattered Nasa plus Gideon is unlikely to win the presidency but they can determine who does become the next president.

• They are a grouping of equal political lightweights. More driven by fear of obliteration than by a cogent vision for Kenya,

Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang'ula, Wiper's Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi of ANC and Gideon Moi of Kanu in Matungu on Wednesday,
BREAKUP: Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang'ula, Wiper's Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi of ANC and Gideon Moi of Kanu in Matungu on Wednesday,
Image: HILTON OTENYO

Last week the Nasa trio of Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang'ula  with Kanu chairma, Gideon Moi to form a pre-election alliance.

The team has been known to have wormed their way into the Jubilee government soon after the handshake between Raila Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta in March 2018. Whether their action was an afterthought, a reaction to Raila’s move or purely initiated on its own merit is still subject of debate.

Senator Moi is progeny of the grand professor of Kenyan politics, the former Mzee Daniel arap Moi. The other three are Mzee Moi’s political sons.

Mzee mentored Kalonzo on the recommendation of his ally, Mzee Mulu Mutisya, while Mudavadi was the son of his friend in career, Moses Mudamba Mudavadi. Wetangula found himself in Moi’s court courtesy of the multiparty politics threat to Moi’s rule. He was a young budding lawyer who needed to shore up his legal practice using state connections.

On the other hand, Moi needed a fresh breath of political air around his floundering political career. He therefore decided to cobble together  network of young professionals around his campaign among them, Moses Wetang'ula. It is therefore clear that this team has a shared heritage of historical ties.

They also share the baggage of political patronage that denied them the benefits of the rough and tumble of the hostile Kenyan political terrain. However, in the wake of their political upbringing, one cannot ignore the political loyalties and networks that they have accumulated. The new alliance thus offers something new and fresh in the political chessboard ahead of the impending general elections next year.

Given their gentlemanly mien, they may not excite passionate following and forge a winning strategy. The masses will still be divided neatly among the regular tribal chieftains. They are also organising themselves into a formation slightly late after Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga. It is therefore not farfetched to predict that the alliance is unlikely to win the next presidential elections.

However, they are likely to determine who becomes the next president. This is based on the fact that the next elections may not give an outright winner in the first round. This will then call for a runoff between the leading two candidates.

The candidate in the  run-off who then gets the support of this alliance will most likely to win the ensuing run-off. When it was unveiled, people expected that it would offer a credible alternative to their former candidate, Raila and the Ruto-led hustler movement.

However, a closer assessment indicates that the alliance cannot match the existing political cleavages led by Ruto and Raila The first weakness identified with the alliance is their relative political weakness.

It is an alliance of regional political kingpins who do not command absolute loyalty in their  bastions. Kalonzo has had to deal with the pervasive presence of Charity Ngilu as an alternative to his Kamba throne. Lately, Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua has joined the fray. Together with Prof Kivutha Kibwana, the three governors have been able to get elected on parties different from the Kalonzo-led Wiper Party.

Mudavadi and Wetang'ula have been unable to dismantle the deep networks of Governors Wycliffe Oparanya and Wycliffe Wangamati in both Kakamega and Bungoma. Wilbur Ottichilo is not himself a Mudavadi sapling in ANC’s homeground of Vihiga. Senator Moi is yet to recover from the humiliating defeat the BBI train suffered in the Baringo countya Assembly. They are therefore a grouping of equal political lightweights.

The second challenge facing them is the lack of leadership for the group. While the hustler movement has Ruto as its clear presidential candidate and ODM has Raila, they are yet to identify their flagbearer. Their strengths and weaknesses cancel out. It would be therefore difficult to settle on a candidate for the 2022 elections. Without a candidate, they will lack the necessary stewardship to navigate the political terrain. It is also easy to infiltrate their ranks and plant seeds of discord.

This is because the alliance is motivated more by the fear of political obliteration than a cogent vision for the country. The Nasa trio cannot afford another coalition with Raila as the candidate as this would  write their political obituary. On the other hand, young Moi cannot fathom joining Ruto in the hustler movement. He has been successfully portrayed as the poster boy of the dynasties.

This alliance also lacks the gusto and energy associated with political campaigns. They have been unable to design political messages that resonate with the ordinary masses. Their political communication is not punchy and therefore ineffective. Their leadership is laidback and does not inspire confidence. It is also difficult for this alliance to attract funding. They lack resource wherewithal on their own yet presidential campaigns require vast investment in terms of logistics and cash outlay. They are not disruptive in their nature and therefore not a threat to business stability. The business community always invests in the candidature of disruptive individuals who are a threat to business.

On the flipside, they have to contend with their opponents. Currently there are two candidates already in the field. The battle-hardened Raila Odinga and the Deputy President William Ruto. Talk of these two entering into an alliance is illusionary since political alliances are products of fear not love.

Currently nothing threatens their political statuse to warrant a marriage of inconvenience. By his very stature, Raila cannot play second fiddle to Ruto or any of the Mzee Moi students. His political strengths and weaknesses are a matter of public knowledge having been around for quite some time now. It is Ruto who should worry aboutthe new alliance and any would be presidential candidate.

The deputy president has no challenger in his hustler movement and commands a loyal following in his Rift Valley backyard. While he pretends that he is a rank outsider in the Jubilee government, he has at his disposal the trappings of power as deputy to president Uhuru Kenyatta. This accords him unrivalled access to state resources which are necessary for such campaigns.

Ruto is eloquent and an effective communicator who has grounded his hustler narrative among the restless youth. He has based his message on the fear of domination by the dynasties instead of the tiring arguments of programmatic economic development. He appeals to the hearts of the masses instead of the minds of the bourgeoisie as Joseph Goebbels did under Adolf Hitler. This is complemented well by his unrivalled energy and intellectual propensity.

Ruto’s strengths are buttressed further by his vast resource empire which provide ready cash. This resource outlay has been useful in trapping many MPs and greedy politicians by wetting their appetites. Many of these political leaders are average in ideology and vision and are therefore easy prey for manipulation. Whoeve, emerges tops in the next general elections will have to find a way of accommodating the new alliance to win in the ensuing runoff elections.