Sunday, 23 August 2015

President Uhuru Kenyatta increasingly likely to drop William Ruto come 2017

By Prof Makau Mutua

Jubilee’s Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya’s CEO, has never been more confident. You can tell by the bravado and braggadocio with which he’s swatting political opponents. He’s treating the Opposition with contempt — like a bunch of flies. His diction — whenever he speaks — is authoritative.
There’s a firmness in his voice that’s reminiscent of his famous dad, the Burning Spear himself. Methinks I know why. The scion of Jomo is bestriding Kenya like a colossus. He has one thing on his mind, and one thing only — a second term come 2017. That’s why he’s getting his ducks in a row.
My crystal ball tells me that Kamwana’s most significant casualty will be the irrepressible — but lately easily irritable — URP boss William Ruto. First, Mr Ruto has premonition. That’s because most astute politicians can sense dark clouds even before they gather. That’s why Mr Ruto recently accused his political detractors in the Rift Valley of “digging a grave” for him. He warned — ominously — that the grave diggers might be the ones entombed in it.
Like the late Paul Ngei — one of the famous Kapenguria Six — Mr Ruto believes he has nine lives. Like a cat. But when a political maestro like Mr Ruto openly panics in public, then you know the gods aren’t happy with him. They say never let your enemies see you sweat. Which begs the question — is the kitchen getting too hot for the son of Cheruiyot? Mr Kenyatta doesn’t need a numero dos who lacks confidence. Deputies, even in America, don’t win elections for the boss. American Vice President Joe Biden is Exhibit A.
But sidekicks can cost the top dog an election. The job description of a perfect running mate is to make sure the cup is full, and not leaky. Mr Kenyatta yoked himself to Mr Ruto, the junior partner, to corral the last election. Never mind whether it was by hook or crook. But what use is Mr Ruto to Mr Kenyatta if he’s causing the Jubilee boat to take on water? That’s why I think Mr Kenyatta will throw his chief assistant overboard. He doesn’t need a spotter with poor eyesight.
Second, Mr Ruto was only useful to Mr Kenyatta as the Kalenjin kingpin. But alas, Mr Ruto’s reign atop the Kalenjin Nation has become wobbly. KANU has roared back from the dead to eat his lunch. So has Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto. Beware of former allies turned foes. And get this — Governor Ruto isn’t some quisling. He’s a bona fide kingmaker. If I was William, I would be foolish to go mano-a-mano with Isaac.
Governor Ruto is a brawler who’s not afraid to mix it up — he can sucker punch with the best of them. That’s why he’s hogtied his namesake and reduced him into a crybaby. Mr Kenyatta will jettison Mr Ruto because he can’t herd the Kalenjin. Third, President Barack Obama’s visit proved to Mr Kenyatta that he doesn’t need Mr Ruto. Mr Kenyatta kept Mr Ruto largely closeted, although he did let him out on several occasions to meet K’Ogelo’s most famous scion.
The International Criminal Court’s Sword of Damocles still hangs over Mr Ruto’s head. Mr Kenyatta escaped the ICC’s guillotine last year. This is why Mr Obama could now come to Kenya. But Mr Ruto’s ICC woes make him a liability — a diplomatic embarrassment — to Mr Kenyatta. Going to the ballot in 2017 with Mr Ruto is akin to taking a malaria-ravaged patient to the battlefield. It would be foolhardy for Mr Kenyatta to go to war with a lame duck. Fourth, Mr Kenyatta’s running mate in 2017 will be the presumptive favourite to catapult to State House in 2022 should he snag a second term. This is the gazillion dollar question — who wants Mr Ruto to succeed Mr Kenyatta in 2022?
I could hear a pin drop once I asked the question. The truthful answer, though painful for Mr Ruto, is that he’s damaged goods. Nobody will back him in 2022 even if he and Mr Kenyatta are re-elected. But it won’t come to that because he won’t run with Mr Kenyatta in 2017. Except for a few URP diehards, no serious political cartels want to see Mr Ruto in State House.
That’s why Mr Kenyatta will drop Mr Ruto. Fifth, and finally, Mr Ruto has served his purpose for Mr Kenyatta. He can now be discarded. It’s like the law of gravity — whatever goes up must come down. Politics is a utilitarian game, not a sport of sentimentality. The coalition of Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto is limping to the finish line — 2017 — and they both know it. Don’t be fooled by public expressions of fidelity to each other. It’s over — gone and done with. It’s time for divorce — coming soon.

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