As the country prepares to head into the General Election in 2022, pundits expect it to be a two-horse race between perennial rivals, Deputy President William Ruto and the former Prime Minister, Raila Odinga.
However, all eyes will be on DP Ruto with pundits and analysts arguing that key events that may happen before the August 2022 election can affect his quest to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Ruto’s campaign focuses on economic recovery through the Bottom-UP model. Nonetheless, he has constantly taken a swipe at Uhuru for reportedly settling on Raila as his successor. Ruto has also faced criticism from several quarters with politicians opposing his one party policy.
All aspirants seeking to join his United Democratic Alliance party (UDA), were asked to ditch their parties in return. His key critics included former Agriculture Cabinet Secretary, Mwangi Kiunjuri, Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria and ODM allied politicians.
ODM leader Raila Odinga (left) converses with Deputy President William Ruto (right) during the Jamhuri Day celebrations at Uhuru Gardens, Nairobi County on Sunday, December 12, 2021
Here are some highly anticipated events that may affect Ruto’s aspirations.
Endorsement By Uhuru
President Uhuru Kenyatta has been playing coy throughout his second term on who he will endorse ahead of the 2022 polls. The President has been recorded numerous times in his second term throwing jabs at Ruto and favouring Odinga.
However, Uhuru has not openly endorsed Raila and neither has he condemned Ruto’s presidential ambitions. At some point, Uhuru faulted Ruto for lacking patience and campaigning early rather than focusing on Jubilee Party’s development agenda.
An endorsement from Uhuru would guarantee DP Ruto the keys to State House since Uhuru’s allies in Jubilee Party would be forced to support and go out to campaign for the second in command.
Without the endorsement from Uhuru, DP Ruto will have a difficult time getting into State House since Uhuru’s close allies and the Mt Kenya Foundation billionaires and business people have decided to ride with the Odinga train.
“As the President, he ought to serve all leaders. However, he uses his proxies to speak. When these people speak, we all know the Head of State has spoken. He uses them to stay away from the limelight,” political analyst Nafula Kisiang’ani told Kenyans.coke, explaining that Uhuru was keen on avoiding polarising the country by endorsing either Raila or Ruto.
ODM leader Raila Odinga (left) with Deputy President William Ruto at a football match on November 9, 2020.
Coalition Pact With Raila
As the saying goes, there are no permanent enemies in politics. Pundits have opined that it is possible for the DP and his political nemesis, Raila, to join forces and form a coalition government.
This would come amid pressure by Uhuru to unite the country and for Ruto to have a share of the national cake.
“Anybody who wants to join us to fight poverty and other things that ail the country is welcome. We have our plans, if he (Raila) believes in us, we will agree and work together,” Ruto stated in March 2021.
However, Raila ruled out the possibility of forming a pact with Ruto. On Friday, December 10, he launched the Azimio la Umoja Coalition that will propel him to the presidency.
“I am ready to work with anyone. The last time (2007) I worked well with Ruto but he chose to walk out on me. He (Ruto) has a habit of running alone,” Raila responded to the DP during an interview on five Kalenjin vernacular radio stations in Nairobi, in October 2021.
Alliance With OKA Co-Principals
One Kenya Alliance (OKA) principals are also holding a crucial key in the next polls. The four leaders have support from their respective regions which are also rich in votes that will be vital for the first [resident of Kenya.
DP William Ruto allies have been wooing Mudavadi and Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka and Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetangula.
The DP’s men rallied Mudavadi during a funeral in Vihiga county, on August 31, where they opined that the ANC leader might lose even in his own backyard if he goes at it alone. Led by Nandi Governor Stephen Sang, Ruto’s allies urged Mudavadi to join them which would be a big boost for Ruto.
Dr Masibo Lumala, a political analyst, specialist and consultant in Gender, Communication and Development, told Kenyans.co.ke that the nullification of the BBI would certainly create a three-horse race, with Raila, Ruto and OKA alliance facing off at the ballot.
“OKA may denounce Raila and opt to choose their own flag bearer,” he stated. OKA co-principals, Mudavadi, Musyoka and Moses Wetangula snubbed Raila’s Azimio la Umoja national convention.
Kanu’s Gideon Moi was the only OKA member who attended and supported Raila.
With pressure mounting from M Kenya and Raila receiving an endorsement from the Mt Kenya Foundation, allies of DP Ruto may decide to shift their allegiance. The eastern side supports Speaker Justin Muturi.
Former Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri, Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria and former Justice Minister Martha Karua declared that they will not be joining UDA, which is Ruto’s preferred party to ascend to power in 2022.
The trio announced they will not be coaxed to join one political party citing the existence of their own political parties. This alliance puts Ruto at a crossroads with Kuria whose support is crucial for the DP in Mt Kenya.
The Running Mate Dilemma
This will be the deciding factor for DP Ruto’s ambitions. His Mt Kenya allies unequivocally demanded the running mate position. But pundits opined that his choice will make or break his allies and support in certain regions that have not been part of the top leadership since Kenya attained independence.
Ruto hinted at picking his long-time ally and Mathira Member of Parliament – Rigathi Gachagua – as his running mate in 2022.
While addressing Nyeri residents during his tour to the region on December 4, Ruto asked the residents to allow Gachagua to accompany him in his quest of seeking national votes.
The DP went ahead to request the residents to protect the legislator’s seat in the event that the duo will work together.
Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua (left) and his Gatundu counterpart Moses Kuria.