The available options for Ruto after Senate setback
After Jubilee Party leader, President Uhuru Kenyatta, engineered leadership changes that point to his deputy not being the Head of State’s choice in the 2022 succession politics, it has become obvious that William Ruto will explore other options to clear the hurdles on his presidential ambitions.
Ruto’s allies and political analysts interviewed by People Daily yesterday said he could pursue a number of options to safeguard his State House journey.
While others said that after Ruto’s fall out with his boss, he can resign and form his own political party, others think he should stay put and strive to attract public sympathy by projecting himself as a victim of mob injustice.
Initially deemed as Uhuru’s heir apparent, political fortunes for Ruto have changed dramatically, resulting in Monday’s dramatic sacking of his key allies from influential positions in the Senate, barely two weeks after the government took back his 1,600-acre land in Ruai, which had been set aside for expansion of the city’s sewerage treatment works.
“Those of us who support Ruto have a number of options. One, the DP camp will remain involved and stay put (in the ruling party Jubilee) and fight from within.
"The reason why the DP is being fought from all fronts is because he has the support of a majority of Kenyans and is sure of winning the presidential contest,” Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua claimed yesterday.
The lawmaker said at the tail end of Uhuru’s presidency, more leaders will openly speak their mind about the elections.
“This is a democratic party. The days when people would use the President’s name to intimidate others are long gone,” he said, without elaborating.
However, Javan Bigambo, a political commentator, says that Ruto is in a catch 22 situation; staying put in Jubilee or bolting out both have specific risks.
“What is clear now is that Ruto has a very stormy relationship with the President. Being in such a situation is very precarious; the Head of State wields a lot of powers, he can use the system to bar Ruto from vying in 2022 by crafting legal hurdles to stop him,” Bigambo said yesterday.
However, Ruto has the option of cooling down his loyalists and advising them to use measured words when talking about the President, so as to appease him and avoid antagonising him further, Bigambo added.
Another political scientist, Obuya Bagaka, said recent events indicate that the DP is not on the cards of Uhuru’s inner circle.
“It is a clear case of a codriver who has been reduced to a passenger in the bus he is supposed to be driving. He has no control of the bus. It is a clear case of a person who has been sidelined,” he added.
“He should resign and reinvent himself by returning to his power base instead of being part of a system that he has no control over. A resignation will enable him to create momentum for what he has said to be his unstoppable march to State House because he still has troops.”
A shrewd politician, Ruto has so far managed to navigate the country’s rough political terrain. However, the rain started beating the country’s number two when a group of politicians close to Uhuru, led by Jubilee vicechairman David Murathe, declared there would be no automatic Jubilee presidential candidate in 2022.
Ruto hit back, saying he has never said he was waiting to be endorsed by anyone, a statement backed by one of his close allies, Kimilili MP Didmus Baraza, who insists the DP has support in all parts of the country to win the presidency.
“Ruto has many options open to him but I will not discuss those now. However, he is open to forming alliances with like-minded politicians,” the MP said.
The Ruto camp is buoyed by a recent ruling that saw Registrar of Political Parties Anne Nderitu decline to approve a list of new members of the National Management Committee (NMC) that had been forwarded by Jubilee secretary general Raphael Tuju.
But Monday’s removal of Ruto’s close allies Kipchumba Murkomen and Susan Kihika from leadership positions in the Senate has forced the caamp team to reflect on their future in the party.
“We are going back to the drawing board. We have now learned who our friends and foes are. We know the journey will be rough and turbulent, but are ready for any eventuality, our goal remains 2022,” said Baraza.
However, Makueni Member of Parliament Dan Maanzo (Wiper) thinks it is high time the DP resigned and formed his own political party.
According to Maanzo, Ruto started his campaigns too early and in the process appeared to be antagonising the Head of State.
“Ruto has been defying the President openly; if you fight your boss you should resign, there is no way he can work with him, the President wields much power and can exercise the same to suppress your moves,” Maanzo says.
“At the moment there is a lot of friction between the President and his deputy. Ruto should ship out and form his own outfit which can propel him to the presidency if that comes to pass,” he said.
But former Kakamega Senator and close Ruto ally Boni Khalwale said the changes in the Senate leadership “is a step forward in Ruto’s political journey.”
“Daggers have been drawn and we will be making a statement publicly to pronounce our position going forward,” Khalwale said.