With less than 24 months to Kenya’s general election and a country at the mercy of Covid-19, the scramble for political survival beyond 2022 for Kenya’s top executives cannot be ignored. The elephant in the room is: Who forms the government and ultimately lead Kenya after Uhuru’s constitutional presidential term limit ends in 2022?
Most people will point to the current deputy president, Mr. William Ruto. But when you look at Kenya’s political landscape, does he stand a chance? The answer is a big No! This is because politics is a pragmatic and technical game based on numbers. Below are reasons to as why Ruto’s dream of rising to power in 2022 is a tall order than he might think:
Raila Odinga, The Green-Eyed Monster
No man in Kenya has caused former presidents much headache and pain than the infamous master of sabotage, Mr. Raila Odinga. Motivated by his own failed ambitions to secure the presidency, Mr. Odinga will be livid with jealousy for any thought of anybody else succeeding where he himself has failed back to back for more than half a century. Mr Odinga tried to steal the presidency from former presidents Daniel Moi in 1982 coup, gave Kibaki sleepless nights in 2007-2008 as well as watered down Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election in 2017 leading to an annulment and a do-over in an election in which he later boycotted even after the supreme court sided with him regarding allegations of perceived or real irregularities during the initial 2017 general election.
For those eyeing for the presidency in 2022, be it with or without a change of the constitution, one thing that people can be assured of is that so long as Raila Odinga is alive, he will be on the ballot for the presidency. By the look of things, Mr. Odinga stands a chance of getting the top seat he has always wanted this time round more than ever as Uhuru Kenyatta is a lame duck president hence barred by the constitution from running for a third term for the top job. Raila Odinga is very much aware that William Ruto is also eyeing for the coveted job and since Raila Odinga has been in politics even before William Ruto was born, nothing irritates “baba” than a potential defeat by someone of the same age group as his offspring. Raila Odinga has teamed with Uhuru Kenyatta to drum up support for the BBI movement which intends to change the constitution, re-install the position of the prime minister and dilute the powers of the presidency in the disguise of uniting Kenyans. While Uhuru Kenyatta could have convinced William Ruto to campaign together for this arrangement, nobody is more enthusiastic for this type of arrangement than Mr. Raila Odinga. The latter is willing to have the title under his name even if it means a diluted, powerless “President of Kenya” title. It will not be a surprise that the attempt by Jubilee officials to oust William Ruto from the Jubilee Party, and hence render him party-less with less time left to form a new party, came from Raila Odinga himself. Uhuru Kenyatta does not bother defending his deputy because Uhuru benefits from this as well. Remember William Ruto wants to be the president under the current constitution and he is against BBI, while Uhuru and Raila are the chief engineers of the BBI movement. So the two titans are united in their attempts to save their political careers come 2022. Whereas Raila Odinga wants to ink his own name on Kenya’s history books regarding the Republic’s presidential record, Uhuru Kenyatta is full of pride and hence uncomfortable to take any other job other than that of the powerful office in the land and he is prepared to swap the title of the president to that of a powerful Prime minister. This will only be possible if the BBI movement succeed in convincing Kenyans to change the constitution again for the second time in just a decade. Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta share more in common as they both emerged from their parent’s limelight and are considered political insiders compared to the new entrants like William Ruto whose fame is not inherited.
Another motive for the unexpected Raila-Uhuru political alliance has to do with the Kikuyu people. This election season, Kenya’s most populous tribe do not have a credible candidate capable of winning a presidential election. If not changed, the current constitution will be the final nail in the coffin for a Muthamaki-affiliated presidency for at least a decade. This unsettles and really irks the Kikuyu people immensely. So how do they dodge the bullet? By doing what other African leaders do when they are cornered: To change that damn constitution! By Uhuru aligning with Raila Odinga, Mr. Ruto will be against a formidable giants as far as votes are concerned. The Kikuyu constitutes 22% of the Kenyan population while the Luos come at a distant second at a mere 13% of the Kenyan population. While there are “Hustler“supporters in Central Kenya, a majority of the Kikuyus will want Uhuru Kenyatta to continue guarding the top job for a while until a suitable Kikuyu ‘candidate’ emerges to take over from him.
Looking at the 2013 general election results, it should be noted that Uhuruto only barely secured the presidency with only 50.07% of the national vote.One can assume that the Kenyatta/Ruto pairings only escaped with a whisker here. With a pairing in which Ruto is on the top while hypothetically Kenyatta assumes the role of Deputy President, such a pairing will ensure total defeat at the hands of Raila Odinga. So Kenyatta did not want to risk this, and it is possible that he saw the writings on the wall and decided the best alternative he can get. Whereas the pairing with Raila is seen to be symbiotic between the two men (Raila gets what he has wanted for the past 50 years, while Uhuru get a new powerful Prime Minister role), this arrangement do more than just that as it ensures that the Kikuyu people will be assured a win while prolonging their reign in power for a while. It is yet to be seen who William Ruto will “gang” up with now that his purported “friend” Uhuru Kenyatta has betrayed the Sugoi native. Whoever Mr. Ruto partners with, by the look of things on the ground, they don’t stand a chance against a Kenyatta-Odinga pairings.
William Ruto: The Uncharismatic, scandal-prone Political Pariah
Nobody in Kenyan politics is more hated as Mr. Hustler! Without Uhuru Kenyatta’s support, it will be particularly difficult for Mr. William Ruto to attract and put up a team powerful enough to defeat the Kenyatta-Odinga team. If you sit down and put up the best case scenario, Uhuru’s betrayal of Ruto starves the latter the required vote to ascend to power come 2022. To make the matters worse, Uhuru is even digging in for the kill by chipping away Ruto’s political stronghold in Rift Valley by befriending a few Kalenjin leaders including Gideon Moi, Isaac Ruto, Joshua Kuttiny and William Kamket. Not only that, William Ruto has widely been seen as politically unlikable as he has been kicked out of ODM and then UDM, tricked to dissolve his URP party and now at the verge of being ostracized from the Jubilee Party. He has been tainted with scandal after scandal. From the dubious land deals involving The Kenya Pipeline Company, to the maize scandal during the grand coalition government, to shuttled diplomacy of hiring a ksh 100 million jet for a trip to West Africa.
William Ruto is the most controversial politician in Kenya. His other scandals includes the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital scandal, the Langata Primary School Land Grab scandal, The Ruai Sewarage Treatment land scandal, the ksh. 40 billion arms deal scandal and many many others. Wheres the deputy president has never been convicted of any of these scandals in the court of law, they do damage his reputation in the eyes of voters and ultimately make him unfit to be president.