If you have been watching television recently, nothing is overwhelmingly ‘deafening’ as the conspicuous absence of Kenya’s Deputy President, Dr. William Ruto. Many Kenyans will be wondering why the number 2 in the country does not participate in the press conference aired by the leader of the Republic of Kenya, President Uhuru Kenyatta. But why is Ruto not seen working hand-in-glove with his boss?
The answer to this question is very complex. Going back to 2011/2012, William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta shared the fate of standing accused of crimes against humanity for orchestrating the genocidal murder of innocent Kenyans during the 2007 and 2008 post election violence.
It is this accusations that galvanized the duo who worked together by campaigning for the presidency in Kenya. Both had their own political parties. Mr Ruto had his chiefly tribalist United Republican Party (URP) while Mr. Kenyatta had his equally polarizing The National Alliance party (TNA).
The duo embarked on a campaign for the election of President and Deputy president for the 2013 general election. Midway, Uhuru and Ruto agreed to abandon their parties and launched a new party called Jubilee Party. In this party Uhuru and Ruto assumed chairmanship and vice-chairman respectively. They succeeded in securing the presidency in 2013 with Uhuru assuming the presidency while Ruto taking the deputy president.
They worked together, the bromance blossomed and they agreed to launch Uhuruto 2.0 by campaigning and winning the 2017 general election without changing anything at all. This is because both sides agreed the status quo as everybody knew their place in the “marriage” whereby Kenyatta will wear the pants in that relationship by having the presidency while Ruto will be relegated to a deputy president role.
But now with only less than 24 months left in their union as 2022 approaches, it looks like their relationship has turned sour. They are no longer calling each other “brothers from another mother”. What exactly changed??
Building Bridges Initiative (BBI). This is the project that Uhuru claims will unite Kenyans but of which most citizens think is geared towards extending the reign of the lame duck president, Uhuru Kenyatta. Under the BBI proposal, Kenya will hold a referendum to change the constitution so as to re-install the position of a prime minister while retaining that of the president.
The Premier position will be more powerful than that of the ceremonial president similar to the system being used in India. It is funny that it is expected Uhuru Kenyatta himself will be the prime minster (more powerful) while the president will be Raila Odinga.
Now to make the matter more interesting, the BBI proponents do not have a space left for Ruto as it is unclear what a role if any the current deputy president will assume beyond 2022. As expected, Mr. William Ruto is against the BBI project as he calls it what eactly it is: a Trojan horse meant to extend Uhuru Kenyatta’s mandate beyond the two terms maximum stipulated by the constitution for anyone elected as president.
William Ruto has held no punches as he made it clear where he stands as demonstrated by his statement on January 13, 2020. As reported by the Daily Nation, the depute president called the BBI “an act of political conmanship”. But this has not stopped Uhuru Kenyatta from actively courting Raila Odinga to support the BBI project as it will benefit the latter by bringing him back into government.
Deception and Political Exploitation
But is Uhuru Kenyatta’s courtship of Raila Odinga genuine. Not really! The handshake and BBI have hidden agenda: to help Uhuru Kenyatta secure his political future past 2022. While in the USA, president Obama graciously retired after completing his two terms as president, most African leaders cling to power past the expiration of their mandate to lead.
Uhuru Kenyatta is one of these leaders. He is using the handshake and then later the BBI project to extend his reign in power. He is trying to change the constitution, yet to be seen whether that will bear fruits, to allow him extend another ten years and even 20 years in power. President Uhuru and his people know that Raila Odinga has always wanted to be president as early as even before the 1982 coupe against the late president Daniel Moi.
So Mr Odinga’s sweet tooth in the presidency is well known and is being exploited here for Mr. Kenyatta’s benefit. The reason why Uhuru Kenyatta now ignores William Ruto is because the latter and the former’s interests collide with each other. Whereas Ruto want to be on the ballot for the presidency in 2022, Mr. Kenyatta wants to be the prime minister in 2022.
It could have made sense if the current number 1 and number 2 traded places in 2022 because in 2013, Uhuru himself said he wants to serve 10 years as president and then leave William Ruto complete his 10 years. But was Uhuru Kenyatta’s words back then genuine? No. Since Uhuru Kenyatta did not honour his promise from 2013, why will anyone trust him whatever promise he is making to Mr. Odinga? Well, it has to do with political convenience. Uhuru Kenyatta only cares about his own career and will stop at nothing including using whoever is available and suitable enough to enable him accomplish his political desires.
Can William Ruto Stop BBI a.k.a The Reggae?
Yes. William Ruto has his die-hard supporters even within Central Kenya itself! He needs to keep drumming up support for decency and upholding of the biblical teachings that prohibits cheating/lying. Kenya is 90% Christians and most people will side with William Ruto because Mr. Kenyatta made promises of supporting Ruto on record. But now president Kenyatta is reneging on that promise.
Also, Ruto stands to benefit from Coronavirus/COVID 19 in the sense that not only does the virus makes it impossible for BBI proponents to hold massive rallies across the country but also will ensure that most funds previously earmarked for BBI rallies might end up being diverted to fight COVID 19. Alternatively, Mr. Ruto can go on the offensive by mobilizing his supporters and then holding massive anti-BBI rallies across the country.