Why DP Ruto should worry and other talking points after Kiambaa by-election
The outcome of the just concluded Kiambaa by-election, where UDA candidate John Njuguna Wanjiku trounced Jubilee’s Kariri Njama, has elicited lots of reactions among Kenyans.
Fashioned as a duel between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto, the by-election was destined for massive scrutiny on what it portends for the 2022 General Elections.
Judging by previous by-elections held in the larger Mt Kenya region, the Kiambaa mini-polls was for DP Ruto-led UDA to lose.
Most allies of DP Ruto, who hail from the Mt Kenya region, labelled the contest as the burial for the ruling Jubilee party.
A flashback of the campaign period paints a glowing picture of the UDA party in terms of crowd mobilization and resources.
While Jubilee on the other hand showed resilience and determination to recapture the seat, some observers had faith that it could rekindle its political mojo that swept nearly all seats in the Mt Kenya region during the 2017 General Elections.
The outcome of the Kiambaa mini-poll arguably surprised many after it turned out that UDA won with a paltry 500 votes.
To analysts, Jubilee might have lost the by-election but its glory is yet to fade away.
Mt Kenya and 2022 General Elections
It is no doubt that DP Ruto enjoys a huge following from the Mt Kenya region and that explains why the Kiambaa mini-poll was crucial in creating perceptions ahead of 2022.
Most of his allies said the Kiambaa mini-poll mirrors the outcome of the 2022 presidential elections.
“There is no number two in a political contest. At the end of an election, the winner is what matters. This Kiambaa by-election has shown us what will happen in 2022,” Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua said while celebrating the UDA victory in Kiambaa.
Jubilee losing by about 500 votes raises eyebrows whether the DP has cemented his ground in the larger Mt Kenya region.
For his 2022 chances to become solid, pundits argue that DP Ruto needs to garner at least 90 per cent of the Mt Kenya region votes.
To some, if the Kiambaa by-election can be used to tell what the future holds for the DP in the larger region then he has a long way to go.
“There are two warnings that could be extracted for both UDA and Jubilee from these by-elections. For UDA this is probably the best they will do in Central Kenya. That should worry DP Ruto who needs 101 per cent of Mt Kenya support if his candidacy is to convert to the State House,” Governor Anne Waiguru said.
Waiguru’s remarks were approved by media personality and current affairs commentator David Makali who said the DP needs to take stock of his political strength in the Mt Kenya region.
“I rarely do but on Kiambaa, I agree with Governor Waiguru's observation on DP Ruto’s lead in Central Kenya,” part of his statement on Twitter read.
Jubilee party and its future
The Kiambaa by-election has somewhat unmasked the Jubilee party’s dwindling political fortunes.
Losing six out of the eight by-elections in the larger Mt Kenya region speaks volumes on a party that wields power and also gets the lion’s share of the political parties fund.
The performance of the Jubilee candidate in Kiambaa has raised concerns about whether his victory was denied because of his allegiance to the ruling party.
According to some, Njama was a strong candidate who lost to a starter, thanks to his Jubilee party which is alleged to have lost its support base in the larger Mt Kenya region.
“For 4 years the Hustler Nation built a formidable candidate in Kariri Njama but in 3 weeks Jubilee chipped away 70% of his political support. What a loss!” Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen opined on the Jubilee loss.
To a section of leaders in the ruling Jubilee, the party is dead; it is just a matter of time. Others are calling for patience saying it is time to reflect and assess where they went wrong.
“They intended to bury Jubilee in Kiambaa. Moses Kuria even said as much publicly. It didn’t happen. And now it’s quite clear that Jubilee is NOT dead,” MP Ngunjiri Wambugu commented.
But as the debate rages on, the Kiambaa mini-poll is another wake-up call for the Jubilee leadership to rethink its strategy.
Uhuru and his advisors
Is the President paying the price of isolating his Deputy in the government they formed together? If so, who is to blame?
In the wake of these defeats, some Kenyans have questioned the role of his advisors in keeping him afloat even as tenure nears ends.
“Those who may have advised the President of the Republic to isolate, ignore and humiliate his Deputy are, to say the least, the President’s greatest enemies,” Senator Kithure Kindiki opined on his Facebook page.
For a region that has benefited a lot on development projects during his tenure as the President, many would expect that the ground will not be this hostile to President Uhuru.