Insiders pushing Ruto to strike deal with OKA chiefs
Insiders in Deputy President William Ruto’s camp are pushing him to reach out to the One Kenya Alliance (OKA) principals to safeguard his presidential ambitions in the face of what appears to be a rising threat by opposition chief Raila Odinga.
According to people close to his inner circle, there is a growing feeling that Ruto’s chances of winning the presidency next year are becoming shaky without the support of “solid” leaders.
OKA principals Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi, Moses Wetangula and Gideon Moi fit this description.
The insiders, who spoke to People Daily, revealed that a section of his advisers think that Raila’s steady overtures to Mt Kenya region which was initially thought to be Ruto’s stronghold, will require him to widen his fishing net and create new allies.
Prof Kaburu Kinoti, a Kenyatta University lecturer and secretary general of the Peace and Development Party, thinks that Ruto is caught between a rock and a hard place.
Kinoti, an insider in the Ruto camp, admitted that they were worried about the future of the Hustler movement since the bedrock of its support, Central Kenya, is shifting at a fast pace. “Faster than we anticipated,” says Kinoti.
“I did a statistical analysis of the possibilities of Jubilee winning in 2017 and out of a possible 1,000 scenarios Jubilee was going to win after bagging 90 per cent of the votes.
That is what Ruto needs but the shocking twist is Raila will be president if he manages only 24 per cent of the vote, regardless of turnout,” he said.
However, according to Prof Kinoti, all is not lost: “The DP should as a matter of urgency engage the One Kenya Alliance leaders.
OKA is drifting towards Raila Odinga. With the mountain shifting, Ruto should talk to OKA. If they endorse Raila, then it’s game-shot. Ruto’s goose will be cooked.”
According to the statistics expert, the DP made a grievous mistake by thinking he would penetrate the mountain without the help of regional leaders.
According to him, Ruto’s decision to ignore regional kingpins will return to haunt him.
“The Deputy President has shown contempt for regional kingpins. He has made them feel unwanted and this has shifted the narrative in the mountain region.
The middle class is shifting in droves. People are beginning to doubt the message and time is running out fast,” Kinoti told People Daily.
The professor also believes the Hustler narrative will not be the key determinant of the vote next year.
“In my opinion the Hustler narrative is not stable. By virtue of my work at the university and as a political player, I interact with many people and get a lot of feedback.
The truth of the matter is that person you are calling a hustler at the end of the day retreats to some cultural setup.
He is influenced by those he perceives close to him and these are the leaders the DP has decided to lock his door to.
I have supported him but truth be told the path to the mountain has been made difficult by those the DP doesn’t want to talk to.”
But another insider, Prof Edward Kisiangani, says Ruto is not desperate to become president: “His mission will be complete once the base of the societal pyramid is attended to”.
He said: “Hustlers are believers in the morality of work and once you empower them society will be complete.
Raila is also trying to sell the same narrative through his youth initiatives, struggler’s talk and all that, this is because he knows you cannot ignore the young men and women in today’s politics.
What the Deputy President has done is to empower the bottom of the base and a few leaders are panicking.”
On the grumbles of the regional leaders who feel ignored in the Hustler approach, Prof Kisiangani says: “They have been the cause of the turmoil the country has faced since independence and now there is a leader who wants to change that narrative.
These people are fraudsters. The notion of kingpins is a poisonous cancer that we need to remove from our democracy.
We need chemo-politico therapy to deal with it. The kingpins want a seat at the table to negotiate on behalf of their families and cronies, they have never had the interest of the people at heart.”
Ruto’s disdain for the OKA principals has hardly been disguised with the Deputy President making frequent trips to their backyards where he gleefully makes disparaging comments about them.
Ruto has frequently described the OKA leaders as tribal chiefs ganging up to frustrate his presidential ambitions and share power.
In an interview with People Daily on Monday, Mudavadi maintained that he will not play second fiddle to anyone and has ruled out working with Ruto.
“I am very focused on where I want to go. I am focused on seeking the presidency of this country.
And if there is anything that will warrant a conversation, I will not shy away from telling Kenyans that I am in a conversation.
But I want to tell Kenyans what many are dealing with now are mere rumours than anything else,” he said.
“I am looking at nothing less than being on the ballot. That is my target. I am offering myself to the people of Kenya so that I can serve them as their president come 2022.”
Kalonzo has consistently expressed anger at calls for him to back Ruto who he accuses of being corrupt.
“There are others who pretend to be very religious, but their lives are in total contradiction to what Christ stood for,” Kalonzo said at rally in Machakos a month ago.
He said time was ripe for him to contest the country’s top seat and that he would not withdraw from the race to support anyone.
However, the Wiper Party leader noted that he was alive to the fact that he cannot not win alone and that he would seek alliances with other leaders to fulfil his ambitions.
But Keiyo South MP Daniel Rono, a strong ally of the Deputy President, argues that the Kalonzo group must join either Ruto or Raila if they are to remain relevant politically and influence the 2022 succession.
“If they want to be in government, the OKA principals must work with either Ruto or Raila. It will be a sure bet if they work with Ruto, if they have to go anywhere.
Past differences don’t matter. Anything is possible. Who thought that Governor Anne Waiguru would work with the Deputy President?” he posed.
The MP thinks that the OKA group needs Ruto more than he does them and should, therefore, reach out to him.
“In politics, past difference are inconsequential and irrelevant. Political interests become the overriding consideration. It will be a sure bet with Ruto but a gamble with Raila,” he told People Daily.
Prof Felix Kioli, the Dean of the School of Social Sciences at the South Eastern University, argued that both Raila and Ruto need the OKA principals who may provide the critical swing vote.
“Ruto and Raila cannot win without the OKA leaders. They require a plus-one and this will either be Kalonzo or Mudavadi. Politics is a matter of strategy.
The OKA principals also desire to survive and require either Raila or Ruto who are clearly the key contenders,” argued Prof Kioli.