If past is prologue, DP Ruto is venturing on a tricky path to the presidency. The verbal assassin has made it clear that he intends to xerox former President Moi’s playbook to the top, but history is not a good partner in this endeavor.
For starters, no vice president in recent history has made it to the top. Save for Moi, a man who religiously played second fiddle to an aging boss and miraculously ended up taking over, other vice presidents have routinely served as pliable poodles of whom the country moved on without their services. The late Prof George Saitoti was used as a stencil in this effort albeit, in a rather painful way.
The jury is out on whether a banana tree will be expected to yield mangoes on the material day.
Unlike Moi, Ruto’s boss is a much younger man with lots of years ahead of him. This in itself, is a major hurdle on the straight shooter’s path to succession. WSR is poised to lay claim on a political debt from UK and on the strength of his rock-solid support to UK 2013 and 2017 campaigns, he has earned the right to ask for payback.
In other words, he is banking on a gentleman’s agreement being honored. The same type of agreement that Kibaki made with Raila in 2002 and the same kind that Kibaki made with Kalonzo Musyoka in 2007. Ruto will be counting on trust that he is not Raila and that Mount Kenya will treat him as such. The jury is out on whether a banana tree will be expected to yield mangoes on the material day.
Secondly, WSR is trusting that he will not receive the Kalonzo Musyoka treatment. In the lead up to Decision 2013, the then Vice President Musyoka was given one of the most mundane tasks ever to be bequeathed on a VP. He was shipped to the skies, gallivanting the African capitals in what was dubbed “shuttle diplomacy” in a bid to save the ruling duo from the ICC. When all was said and done, the G7 had morphed into Jubilee minus the VP! The lineup was ready and sealed forcing the sitting VP to jump into the Raila cavalcade in the defunct CORD. That was the end of the Kibaki-Musyoka pact.
All these were folks who nursed presidential ambitions. Now, with nothing but political scores to settle, expect a barrage of sabre rattling and outright repudiation of the DP.
To be sure, WSR is a beneficiary of the most lethal political consultants in the business. Dr Magut and Dr Sang’ (full names withheld) are top shelf political Svengalis in Kenya. The magical duo has catapulted WSR to first class politico status. But the big dance is about to start. How they navigate through the forthcoming heavy storm will be crucial.
WSR is staring at a monumental task of making a community that is stubbornly known for political navel gazing to take a chance in a none mount Kenya figure who is known to be a ruthless, no-nonsense politico. What’s more? Some folks still allege that they have some “unfinished business” with the DP. Tellingly, they quip that these are aftershocks from the 2007 political melee. How they intend to address that issue is anyone’s guess.
Then there are the 2017 casualties of WSR’s political coupe de tat in Central Kenya. This list boasts the who-is-who in the region and they will have something to say shortly. The DP’s long knives claimed the political lives of former Kiambu Governor William Kabogo, the region’s political ambulance chaser Peter Kenneth, Martha Karua and the uber ambitious Peter Munya. All these were folks who nursed presidential ambitions. Now, with nothing but political scores to settle, expect a barrage of sabre rattling and outright repudiation of the DP.
Unbeknownst to the Deputy President, UK’s political power, as far as his succession is concerned, sublimed on inauguration day. The mafia officially took over and he is about to witness award-winning political gymnastics. Clandestine appointments in key ministries, watering down of powers being exercised by his appointees, open rebuke from subordinates etc. Baringo Senator Gideon Moi is reportedly being used as a shillelagh against WSR. The mafia unleashed him to receive foreign dignitaries during inauguration no less!
The current push and pull in the lead up to the new-look cabinet is a telltale sign that things are not right. WSR is about to confront his biggest test to date. In as much as he belabors the 1978 strategy, his recent moves and a keen study of the political tea leaves reveal that his team is working overtime.
He has gone mute on the Raila political strip-tease that is the swearing-in, his foot soldiers are equally tight-lipped even as the TNA wing is going hammer and tongs on NASA. The DP is quickly realizing that his path to Statehouse passes through Nyanza.
After all, a lot has changed since 1978.
Mike Dande is a political analyst based in Washington DC.