By Kibisu Kabatesi
What does Deputy President William Ruto know about the ‘handshake’ between his boss President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga that we are all ignorant of? Why hasn’t Uhuru publicly reiterated support for Ruto’s 2022 bid since his reelection? Why is he insisting his cohorts take leave from ‘2022 politics’ when their drumbeats are for Ruto? Whatever Ruto knows is sending him into a fit of fury and on full campaign mode while paying lip service to his boss’s plea to halt ‘2022 politics.
And why is every notable denying that whatever it is they are are up to now will shape the 2022 outcome? Not even Uhuru, who has nothing to lose politically heading to 2022, is believed when he exhorts his troops to halt shouting support for Ruto. The President’s demeanour is what the ever-suspicious DP has latched on to mount a full-scale counter-insurgent campaign disguised as promoting development. In panic, Ruto is making all the mistakes and enemies he shouldn’t.
Ruto has been spooked and is in a hurry to cover as much ground as possible as if anticipating a divorce of sorts with Uhuru. Ruto, it appears, has called the bluff of whatever he imagines the President held back in the folded handshake with Raila. He should be understood because the couple has been mean with truth.
An apprehensive DP is mounting whirlwind tours, former President Moi style, with a retinue of Kikuyu and Kalenjin MPs. He has specifically pitched tent in Rift Valley, where he parades Kikuyu MPs reaffirming their community’s support for him. This is a clever ruse to bolster the confidence of sceptical Kalenjin masses who worry the Kikuyu will not reciprocate their backing Uhuru.
Ruto is implanting belief in the Kalenjin that there exists a reciprocal agreement that the Kikuyu will support him after Uhuru. He’s setting the stage for an ‘otherwise’ retribution. A siege mentality is being moulded amongst the Kalenjin. And it’s just fine to let Mt Kenya leaders publicly overcommit to the Kalenjin so when they renege, which they will, he leads a toxic campaign narrative of an ungrateful and deceitful cabal.
Ruto also wants to play the victim in 2022 at another level. In his rearguard war, he’s spinning a narrative that the Kenyatta, Moi and Odinga dynasties are conspiring to deny a ‘peasant’ the comfort of State House. That these dynasties are loathe to accept an outsider with an appetite for amassing wealth like them, but who isn’t likely to protect their interests. The sprouting hashtags ‘hustlers’ against ‘dynasties’ buttress this.
Which goes to say Ruto has sensed betrayal and he is not afraid to accuse his boss of being a co-conspirator. He knows he’s out of favour. Like a cornered cat, he must claw his way out by mounting a vicious counteroffensive. But he remains petulant, echoing his boss about all eyes on the Big Four, while his retinue of cheerleaders tear into perceived competitors. In the cross hairs particularly are the Moi and Odinga scions.
But it’s weird the extent to which the DP is revealing fear of isolation. He pulled out all stops to paint a hitherto politically out-of-breath Gideon Moi a villain. The prank of being denied audience with Moi at the behest Moi Jr was unbecoming of the DP. Involuntarily, Ruto’s moves against Gideon are counterproductive, popularising the latter as an authentic contender. Ruto not only reveals he does not command a solid Kalenjin vote bloc and that he needs to attract suitors, but also that Gideon has arrived at presidential wannabe table.
So why is everyone denying the obvious, that 2022 succession is on, full blast? To the progenitors, the ‘handshake’ is about decontaminating toxic politics, ensuring electoral justice and equality of the vote. If that’s it, it strains credulity for Raila to deny that the handshake isn’t about 2022. Otherwise, how do you anchor electoral restitution if not in the coming polls?
Uhuru cannot fool anyone by wishing to deflect our attention with the Big Four smokescreen. And Ruto can’t be deploying an electoral armada if 2022 will not happen. He cynically wants us to ‘develop’ while he alone campaigns.