The writing is on the wall that William Ruto might not likely be Uhuru Kenyatta’s preferred successor despite their 2013 and 2017 post-election pact which stipulated that the head of state will rally behind Ruto in the 2022 presidential race after Uhuru will have ended his two terms.
There is a growing feeling in the DP’s camp that Uhuru could be planning to ditch his deputy in preference of another unnamed candidate.
For Ruto, matters are further complicated by Uhuru’s mentor, former president Daniel Moi’s insistence that under no circumstances should the president anoint the DP as his successor despite the DP making forays across the country endearing himself to Kenyans from all corners of the country in readiness to a bruising 2022 presidential campaigns.
Those close to Uhuru now commonly known Uhuru men consider Ruto a vindictive individual who led a rebellion against Moi in 2007 election despite having been his disciple, and amassed wealth courtesy of the former head of state.
They say although a born-again Christian, Ruto portrays himself arrogant, boastful and sarcastic. They give a narrative of when Ruto openly lambasted his former YK92 boss Cyrus Jirongo at public gathering saying he was his errand boy but Jirongo had failed to get organised and that is why he was facing economic woes.
To Uhuru camp, it is Jirongo who bolstered and made Ruto and if he can discredit him in public, the same can happen to Uhuru once out of power.
Ruto further is accused of not keeping friends and it is bound to happen to Uhuru. Kalenjin tycoons led by Mombasa-based investor David Langat, former MP Zakayo Cheruyoit and former Bomet governor Isaac Ruto who helped him win Kalenjin support in 2013 are no longer in good books with the DP as it is said he does not know how to forgive.
Uhuru’s reservations for his deputy became apparent three weeks ago when he made it clear that his choice of a successor will surprise many, which is a pointer that his deputy is not in his lineup. Speaking in Nyeri, the head of state said he will play a critical role in the selection of his successor, and further told those interpreting his silence as cowardice that they will be in for a rude shock.Kenyans on cyberdom hit back saying that it was Uhuru who was going to be shocked by their choice of president.
Insiders aver that Uhuru is opposed to Ruto presidency on various grounds. Just like the Moi family, the Kenyatta family is wary of Ruto’s presidency, together with Mt Kenya elite, for they fear he will target their business interests once he swears the oath of office and hence they would better back another candidate including perennial foe turned friend, Raila rather than the DP. To them Ruto cannot protect Kenyatta, Moi and Mwai Kibaki families business and other interests.
The poor of Central are however solidly behind Ruto whom they admire as he inspires them with his rise from rags to riches which they feel could happen to them. Indeed, there are those among the poor of Central who say the elite of Central have for too long exploited them and that it is time they were cut to size and because an elite from Central and elite from Nyanza are one and the same thing, while a hustler from Central and a hustler from Rift Valley are the same thing, only a hustler can save them.
For the years Ruto has served in cabinet and as deputy president, Ruto has fronted poor allies to land lucrative government tenders sidelining well linked political wheelerdealers. The current tribulations facing tycoon Jimmy Wanjigi investments in railway and airport projects are linked to Ruto although others say that the railway project was exclusively Uhuru’s plate and no one could dare get close. Wanjigi has found his way back into Uhuru’s camp courtesy of Raila.
Another fear is that if Ruto is president, he will destroy political dynasties in Kenya thus making it impossible for Kenyatta family to rule in the future. An example given is how Ruto has been fighting to destroy the Moi family politically in Kalenjin politics. Other influential Kalenjin families now politically irrelevant courtesy of the DP include that of late Isaac Salat.
One of the reasons they fear a Ruto presidency is his resilience and determination to contest for the top seat which they for long imagined would never leave the hands of the dynasties.
The president shares the same feelings with the Kikuyu elite who believe Ruto’s presidency will result in the destruction of their economic interests. Incidentally, dirtpoor Kikuyus who are in their millions say they have waited too long for real independence because after their freedom fighter grandparents lost everything as they fought for independence, the 1963 independence was hijacked by the colonial collaborator homeguards who are in tens and who upto today hold a firm grip of commerce consigning them in a never ending cycle of poverty.
Keen observers will have noticed that of late, Uhuru does not get on well with East and Central Africa regional leaders who seem to be isolating him due to his America connections. Ruto has been cementing relationship with the said leaders. He has been hosted by Ugandan strongman Yoweri Museveni, Rwanda’s Paul Kangame, just to name but a few. Any one with an understanding of political strategy would not be shocked by the regional developments because as Uhuru serves his last few years in power, the neighbouring presidents know that he will not be of value to them any longer.
The feelings of the Kikuyu elite are aptly captured by a member of the influential Mt Kenya Foundation; a lobby group that helped to bankroll Uhuru’s presidential campaigns in 2013, and as well as 2017.
The member, when asked why they fear a Ruto presidency stated that the DP was a non-entity in Kenya’s dynastic politics, thundering “Bururi ni wa andu atatu: njamba, gitonga na muthamaki’ (A country belongs to three types of people: the brave, the rich and the anointed leader).
He asserted that Ruto could be brave and rich but that alone does not qualify him to rule the country, adding Raila is a njamba, but the Kikuyus did not give him the presidency.
The tycoon said the country’s influential political families have rejected Ruto and hence the masses have to follow suit.
Insiders vow that the Kenyatta, Moi and other top families are also wary of Ruto’s presidency due to the wealth he has amassed from, which would see him forcefully take over their companies should he assume the presidency. One however wonders where the rich families now pointing fingers at Ruto got their money from if they did not loot the country as they are accusing Ruto of in shameless phariseesm.
They further state that the country needs a fearless and strong president who will ruthlessly deal with cartels, and not one who will go to bed with them at the earliest opportunity. On this, Ruto people laugh loudly and ask what Uhuru has done on graft except paying lipservice.
The fact of the matter however is Uhuru and Kikuyu elite fear Ruto’s plan is to use the presidency to do business and because they assume Kenya’s limited resources are theirs by birthright, new elite will come up and thin their share.
They claim that if Ruto is not tamed, his plan is to dethrone the dynastic families of Kenyatta, Moi and Jaramogi in that order, from future political participation. To do that, he will first destroy their business empires to enable him survive as a president and consolidate his powers. What they might not know however is that this is sweet music to the poor of Kenya who have for years looked on as their conditions deteriorate with no one to rescue them.
In April 2013, the Mt Kenya Foundation members hosted some of Ruto’s bosom buddies at the Kenyatta-owned Blue Post Hotel in Thika to find out from them, what exactly was Ruto’s political ambition.
But one of Ruto’s men told them: “Ruto anajua Wakikuyu hawawezi kumchagua…anataka kutengeneza pesa tu halafu aende kwa makabila ingine kuwaomba kura.” (Ruto knows Kikuyus cannot vote for him; he just wants to make money and use it to lure other communities to back him).
Other insiders assert that Uhuru men are convinced that Ruto wants to be a powerful president like the rest before him and that is why he is opposed to the push of a referendum to introduce new political seats of prime minister, two deputies as it will water down presidency.
Indeed, one of the reasons Uhuru shook hands with Raila on March 9 was obviously to disrupt Ruto post-election programme and succession game plan.
Ruto plan was that once the Jubilee Party was in power, he was to begin dismantling the Nasa coalition. He was to consolidate his power in the senate and parliament by bringing majority of the MPs to Jubilee and the opposition on his side.
Keen political pundits must have noticed the cap Ruto was wearing during the April 23, Kamagut chicken auction was branded ‘Jamaa wa Kuku’. Ruto decision to widen the gap and create animosity between the rich and poor is not being received well by Uhuru men. There is fear that if he lands the presidency, the downtrodden and the poor will likely invade large tracts of land owned by political dynasties.
But others consider Ruto a go-getter and the kind of person the country needs as president.
They say he is a political strategist who helped Raila win Kalenjin votes against Mwai Kibaki. Further, were it not for Ruto, Uhuru could not be president today. He forced Uhuru in 2013 not to back Musalia Mudavadi presidency after he had fallen to the tricks of influential men then surrounding Kibaki. Uhuru had declared stepping down for Mudavadi only for him to change mind after Ruto opposed the move.
In fact word has it that Raila fears Ruto political moves to an extent that he has told his allies not to underestimate him in 2022.
In 2007, he again delivered the Rift Valley to his then friend-turned-foe Raila. The ODM camp loved him in no uncertain terms as much as the PNU side loathed him.
Though his father was a peasant, it is imperative to note that Jomo Kenyatta and Moi’s fathers, Muigai wa Kung’u and Kimoi Arap Chebii respectively, were also paupers.
Also, whenever Ruto contributes millions of shillings in churches and rallies and immediately suspects that Kenyans will corner him, he normally claims his boss gave him half of the money but the fact of the matter is that the money is from state corporations as well as the weekly fund given the president and VP since the days of Moi, Kibaki, Raila as PM, Kalonzo Musyoka as VP only that these were keeping the money to themselves. The standard amount in Kalonzo VP and Raila PM days was Sh6m every Friday given by NIS.