As the clock ticks towards the 2022 general election, anxiety is mounting in Uhuru Kenyatta’s camp over the choice of a presidential aspirant to succeed him. The president after parting ways with his deputy William Ruto now finds himself at crossroads, regarding the person to pick as heir. Uhuru’s lack of clarity on the matter is said to have split Raila Odinga’s team of advisers with a section fearing that Uhuru will not back Raila for the presidency 2022 come rain or shine.
According to them, the handshake deal was meant to cool the red hot political temperatures, dismantle opposition that was exposing corruption in the Jubilee government and so help the Kenyatta family do multibillion shillings business with the government without anyone raising a finger. Before being roped in government, Raila was seen to be privy to happenings in government and as a result, he could get dossiers on suspect tenders that he exposed tainting the image of Jubilee government, to score political goals. Ever since his handshake deal, he has never exposed any of the scandals in government, leaving the media to do the job. A massive building on Ronald Ngala Street is associated with the beleaguered Kirinyaga governor Anne Waiguru, the product of which is said to be the National Youth Service scandal, where millions of shillings of taxpayers’ money ended up in smoke. Raila defended the besieged governor. A section in ODM inner core circles we talked to revealed that all is not well, and concern has been that Raila’s association with Uhuru, and the Kenyatta family, is costing him politically ahead of 2022.
There are claims that ever since the power-sharing deal, Raila’s rating in Kikuyuland and the larger Mount Kenya region has nosedived dangerously. Those bitter with the deal say that Uhuru is facing a rebellion in his own home turf, and common voters, and a majority of politicians, are aware of the fact and wonder how he will wrinkle himself out of it. On the ground in Central Kenya, word has it Uhuru presidency has benefited only the Kenyatta family at the expense of commoner. Already, there is talk that the family is involved in the multi-billion recarpeting and paving of streets, avenues and roads in Nairobi, in which one of the family’s flagship companies – Clayworks – is said to have been contracted. A human resource manager at the company GK Muchesia when contacted could neither affirm nor deny the claims. In fact, it is said that the president is privy to the rebellion, and that is why he is doing all at his disposal, to dispatch senior government officials, to oversee various development projects by the government to win back the confidence of the voters and that Nairobi street poses a serious threat to his legacy.
Raila had expected Uhuru to deliver the Mount Kenya vote to his side. With Luo vote and Kikuyu populous vote bloc adding up on a section of Luhya, Kisii, Coast and North Eastern, they saw a Raila presidential win in 2022. But those opposed to the calculation within Raila’s inner core are pessimistic, subtracting the Kikuyu political card. Initially, Uhuru and a section of the Kenyatta family, including his brother Muhoho Kenyatta and uncle George Muhoho, had settled on Raila to be the stop-gap president, who would rule for one term and then hand over the baton to Baringo senator Gideon Moi, but now a combination of factors appears to be putting this plan into a quagmire. The choice of Raila has now become a headache for Uhuru due to Raila’s failing health, advanced age, and infighting in his camp including in his own native Luo Nyanza, which would adversely affect his campaigns for the top seat. To complicate matters, the ODM leader is losing ground, even in regions hitherto considered his strongholds such as Western and Coast, sparking fears that he is likely to be defeated by an alliance that is likely to be formed to tame and block Uhuru-Raila project 2022.
Another fear within those opposed to Uhuru-Raila deal in ODM is that, just as Uhuru is creating more political enemies fighting Tanga Tanga allied Ruto supporters, Raila has stepped on toes of many politicians and for political survival, the said politicians are likely to team up ahead of 2022. History is likely to repeat itself as it happened with the Moi succession, where an alliance of convenience was struck to block Uhuru, then Moi project in 2002. Mwai Kibaki was to emerge a compromise candidate winning the presidency to succeed Moi. This precedence is the fear among Raila aides against the Uhuru power deal in whose there are fears of emerging rifts and camps. Our source revealed that Raila advisers supporting the handshake are out to do multi-billion shillings business deals with the state using Raila’s name. To them, the camp is not out to help Raila win the presidency 2022. Those said to use Raila’s name strike business deals are on 24-7 access to the ODM leader.
They are party deputy leader Hassan Joho, the Mombasa governor, Suna East MP Junet Mohammed and Gladys Wanga, Homa Bay women rep. Joho’s family outfit, Portside Limited, was given a lease at Embakasi Inland Depot to clear goods transported by standard gauge railway from Mombasa. The family is also doing lucrative business at Mombasa port. Joho was one of the major critics of the Jubilee government and even at one time, Raila claimed Jubilee was out to destroy the governor’s business investments. Joho since the handshake has been smiling all the way to the bank. Joho’s brother, Abubakar’s firm is also doing massive road projects in Nairobi Central business with Nairobi Metropolis Services. The Cabro materials being used are allegedly bought from the Kenyatta Family Ruiru based Clayworks firm. Junet’s name has been linked to the National Youth Service scandal with that of Wanga doing business with Kemsa – thanks to the current COVID -19 crisis. Hardliners surrounding Raila led by Siaya Senator James Orengo are concerned that Joho and Junnet who flew to visit Raila in Dubai hospital are boasting to be fundraising for Raila 2022 bid yet the ground is shifting unlike 2013 and 2017.
Infighting among Raila advisers has seen Orengo and ODM chairman who doubles up as Suba South MP John Mbadi not see eye-to-eye over control of the party. It is the same case with Kisumu governor Anyang’ Nyong’o and Senator Fred Outa whose fights have plunged the devolved unit into a constant state of animosity. Mbita MP Millie Odhiambo also does not get along with Wanga and has even threatened to frustrate Wanga’s 2022 gubernatorial ambitions, describing her as the worst mistake Homa Bay would make for the choice of governor. In Western, Governor Wycliff Oparanya who is ODM deputy leader is embroiled in a supremacy fight with ODM secretary general Edwin Sifuna. Sifuna has brought on his side Senator Cleophas Malala a man who does not walk with Oparanya.In Mombasa and the entire Coast region, Joho is at war with ODM governors and MPs who do not sing to his tune. They include Amason Kingi of Kilifi and Salim Mvurya of Kwale. Kikuyu rejection of Raila has forced the president to keep on postponing the much-touted joint tour of the region with the ODM leader that never was.
There is talk that the Kikuyuland leaders supporting Raila are doing it for fear of being targeted by the state in the crackdown targeting the DP’s allies, but when the elections are finally called they will tell Uhuru off. Initially, Uhuru had for months been coming out guns blazing, threatening to crush Jubilee Party rebels he accused of derailing his development agenda by engaging in 2022 campaigns for Ruto’s bid for the presidency but now appears to be going slow on the purge to remove them from government. It seems he has come to terms with the fact that he has no legacy to fight over. The president has even shelved the much-talked-about cabinet reshuffle where it was expected he would remove all Ruto allies and extend the same purge to parastatals and other government agencies. The president, insiders revealed, is now in a catch 22-situation regarding his choice for an heir-apparent. The president’s silence when Jubilee vice chair David Murathe known to be his mouthpiece, pour cold water on the March 9, 2018, handshake when he categorically stated there would be no negotiations on the sharing of parliamentary slots left vacant after Jubilee rebels were removed, left many wondering about the future of the handshake.
Though the ruling party later caved in to ODM’s demands for more representation in the committees, it was not lost to observers that Murathe’s remarks hinted at a growing divide in the Uhuru-Raila union. Murathe’s remarks came at a time Raila was out of the country to seek medical attention in the United Arab Emirates, and hence many thought Uhuru ought to have reprimanded Murathe so as to defend the handshake. The president’s dilemma came to the fore when he made an about-turn by declaring he will not support anyone in the 2022 presidential election. A pointer of his dilemma in the succession matrix was brought to the fore by Laikipia woman representative Catherine Waruguru when she knelt down at a public gathering to plead with her constituents to support the Uhuru-Raila union. Waruguru who jumped out of Ruto’s camp after two and half years of vouching for the second in command to succeed Uhuru cautioned the residents that failure to support the Uhuru-Raila union would lead them to the opposition in 2022.
Another signal Uhuru might be charting a different political path from Raila is the silence by nominated Jubilee MP Maina Kamanda who hitherto used to take every opportunity to remind the deputy president that he is not the president’s preferred heir. Raila insiders added that there is a likelihood of a rebellion, where some leaders now in his camp, including a big number from Mount Kenya, troop to the new formation that besides Ruto and Mudavadi, will include Moses Wetang’ula, Governors Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni), Alfred Mutua (Machakos), Garissa Township MP Aden Duale and a host of Mount Kenya leaders led by Senator Kithure Kindiki. Raila hardline advisers further read suspicion in using Gideon in the populous Rift Valley politics. They say that Raila is being forced by the Kenyatta family to work with the Baringo senator when even in the son of Kenya’s second president native home county of Baringo, things are not rosy to him. Prior and after the handshake, the president was confident he would marshal his Kikuyu kinsmen to rally behind a presidential candidate of his choice, but it is now dawning on him that many of them are not convinced that person is Raila.
Indeed, apart from bringing to an end the bitter political rivalry between the two communities that dates back to 1966, when Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and Mzee Jomo Kenyatta fell out, the handshake has not succeeded in convincing the Kikuyu to vote for Raila in 2022. Only a handful of leaders who include embattled Kirinyaga governor Anne Waiguru, Kamanda, Gatanga MP Nduati Ngugi, Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu and former Mukurwe-ini MP Kabando Wa Kabando have publicly come out to back Raila for the presidency. The rest have adopted a wait-and-see approach, with indications that they are waiting for the whistle to be blown to start campaigns, and eventually jump ship to the side the Kikuyu masses will be. Word on the ground is that Uhuru failed to attend the Building Bridges Initiative rally in Kinoru Stadium, Meru after intelligence agencies warned him of a possibility of being heckled by the crowd for sidelining Ruto. Insiders’ worry is that Raila is relying on political weaklings to market his candidature in 2020, which will cost him. Raila has burnt bridges with all those who supported him in the past and chances of them regrouping under him are nil. These are Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka, Mudavadi and Wetang’ula.
Kalonzo backed Raila in the 2013 and 2017 polls, where he was the running mate with the hope the ODM leader would back him in 2022. It is the same case with Mudavadi, who backed Raila in 2007 polls, where he was the designated vice president and again did it in 2017 polls. However, MPs aligned to ANC leader Mudavadi were also removed from plum parliamentary seats the Uhuru purge. For Wetang’ula, he backed Raila in 2013 and 2017 polls. However, Raila stabbed him in the back when he endorsed ODM’s move to use its numerical strength in Nasa to remove him as senate minority leader. Due to business-minded Raila handlers, Kikuyu tycoons whose cash is vital in oiling the presidential campaign kitty are deserting him with fear that if Raila wins, his money-hungry handlers will lock them out of business. But a plus for Raila is that he has international network as compared to all other presidential aspirants. Raila handlers are also divided with the bringing on board Kalonzo and Chama Cha Mashinani leader counterpart Isaac Ruto in power pact with Jubilee.
The aim is to checkmate Raila. Kalonzo and Rutto hammered a pact with Jubilee as independent entities, and not Nasa which means they have an equal stake with ODM in the negotiations table.What this means is that there will be five strong men in the negotiations table – Uhuru, Raila, Kalonzo, Gideon, Isaac – and hence if Raila decides to bolt out if not given the presidential ticket, the void will easily be filled. Gideon brokered both Kalonzo and Isaac deal with Jubilee with Raila being sidelined. Sources say that aware of the division caused by the handshake among his advisers, Raila has decided to keep his supporters guessing as to whether he will run for the presidency or not. He is mark timing, waiting for BBI report to be made public and passed on, with the creation of new political fronts and then, makes a major political pronouncement. But as all is being awaited, Raila handlers including university professors, read from different political scripts. All this as Uhuru rues being tricked by Raila more like the Hare tricked the Hyena to kill his mother wrongly believing that Hare was also doing the same.