SUCCESSION

OMWENGA: Ruto now dynasty, Gachagua is the hustler

The fallout has to do with the fact that the President has made it known a Kikuyu will not succeed him.

In Summary
  • No one is more panicked that Gachagua because he created the beast.
  • He must now cleverly find a way to avoid it mauling him or taking it head-on and emerging on the other side as the victorious victim of this predictable crisis.
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and President William Ruto during the Akorino annual prayer conference in Nakuru on Sunday, June 9, 2024.
FALLOUT: Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and President William Ruto during the Akorino annual prayer conference in Nakuru on Sunday, June 9, 2024.
Image: PCS

There will be no formal declaration, but we are already witnessing a captivating fallout between President William Ruto and Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua.

From the day Ruto announced Gachagua as his running mate, it was clear that this relationship, with its complex dynamics and political implications, was bound to be a rollercoaster ride.

One dynamic that could not escape any astute observer is the relative obscurity of Gachagua compared to Ruto. Yes, Gachagua was a district officer in the Moi era and later became an MP after stints as a junior officer in various government offices, including being an assistant to retired President Uhuru Kenyatta when he was minister for Local Government.

Nobody would not know that if he walked by them on any street outside Nyeri and definitely not the streets of Nairobi.

The obscurity nicely hid the Moi era DO who Ruto unleashed to wreak havoc on the Kenyatta family in general, and Uhuru in particular.

So much so that as then DP was singing that the dynasty must fall in rallies across the country; the Mathira MP was literally making that happen by turning almost everyone in Mt Kenya against Uhuru. The first casualty in that skirmish was none other than former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who had hoped to be, indeed many assumed, he would be the next president courtesy of his brother from the mountain.

Thanks in large part to principally Gachagua and other lesser mortals and Ruto's foot soldiers, Raila saw dust in Mt Kenya. The former DO hurled the votes to Ruto who was equally busy gathering votes they needed elsewhere to make it easy to accomplish the mission as he and a few of his confidants and backers stealthily planned.

In one of his first TV interviews, the President publicly assured Gachagua not to worry about his role as deputy and, more importantly, that he would not treat him as badly as he (Ruto) was treated by Uhuru and his handlers.

There is an expression that says always take a politician’s word with a grain of salt. As one who gives everyone the benefit of doubt until they prove themselves otherwise, I recall hearing and watching the President publicly giving Gachagua those assurances while at the same time posing the question, which no doubt many others did, asking is this real? Was Ruto that comfortable with his DP such that he would not be scheming to tame him?

These were open questions, but it did not take long to get answers. The fallout has been swift and unprecedented. At least for Uhuru and Ruto, nothing spilled into the public until many years after simmering in the background.

While we know the fallout between Uhuru and Ruto was over the handshake and Uhuru’s desire to have Raila succeed him, the fallout between Ruto and Gachagua has very little to do with the fact Ruto has made it known a Kikuyu will not succeed him.

That’s a minor factor.

The main reason is that the President is making it known by deed and words that he is capable of rendering Mt Kenya irrelevant in his political calculation, and that has created panic in the region because those in the know acknowledge is not a pipe dream.

No one has panicked more than Gachagua because he created the beast. He must now cleverly find a way to avoid it mauling him or taking it head-on and emerging on the other side as the victorious victim of this predictable crisis.

Kenyans are amused and bemused with his move to carry his own bag to a KQ flight to Mombasa and sitting in the economy section of the plane. The message was simple, straightforward and effective: if you think you were the hustler in the lead-up to the 2022 election, I am henceforth the real hustler and will make your political life hell going forward. The globe-trotting hustlers be damned.

It is a powerful message that may force Ruto to call off his dogs and make peace with Gachagua to at least see the presidency past the 2027 election.

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