Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga in 2018.
RUTO VERSUS RAILA: Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga in 2018.
Image: FILE

By Reporter

Besieged Deputy President William Ruto plans to sustain his bare-knuckle fight against ‘the system’, intensify his frenetic countrywide tours and explore new alliances ahead of 2022.

The details of Ruto’s game plan came to the fore as an impeachment motion against him looms large among political heavyweights evidently united against his presidential ambitions.

Key allies of President Uhuru Kenyatta, ODM chief Raila Odinga, Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka and ANC’s Musalia Mudavadi are building a strong case for Ruto’s ultimate impeachment.

With the motion in the works, a cornered Ruto is putting on a brave, typically smiling face while reportedly working on an elaborate political strategy that would deliver him to power and break the historical jinx associated with the vice presidency.

The Star has established the DP is exploring two options: To push on and run for president or back off and deliver a ‘Tosha’ bombshell to annihilate Raila who would be 77 years old in 2022. This would mean he would be a kingmaker.

Then he would live to fight another day, given that he would be just 55 in 2022.

While the DP has publicly declared a no-turning-back in his State House quest, his strategists could be keenly monitoring the Kenyatta succession and may even decide to eat humble pie if push comes to shove.

Ruto’s allies claim the ultimate secret card could be a ‘Tosha declaration’.

That’s reminiscent of Raila’s 2002 shock backing of Mwaki Kibaki during the Narc wave that swept Kanu out of power

In the historic 2002 polls, Raila who had decamped from President Moi’s Kanu regime, ganged up with leading political lights like Charity Ngilu, Kijana Wamalwa, George Saitoti and Kalonzo Musyoka to deliver a disastrous loss to Kanu.

“We want to tell our opponents that Ruto may step back and temporarily halt his presidential quest if that will mean dealing a death blow to the dynasties,” a Rift Valley MP close to Ruto told the Star.

The vocal politician, who declined to be quoted as that would make the Rift Valley despondent, was adamant that the DP does not crave power, as his rivals say.

“Kenyans are not fools. They seeing dynasties are determined to continue controlling state power. They  planning how Ruto will not rise to the presidency. It may be a different ball game similar from 2002,” the MP said.

But pulling out of the race could only happen in a worst-case scenario even as the DP’s allies remain buoyant that he still stands the best chance to succeed President Kenyatta despite a growing force united against his bid.

Ruto’s insiders say dropping his presidential ambitions would only be possible if a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis of his 2022 chances — in light of a combined wave against his presidency — reveal he would be vanquished.

The DP’s allies believe that if the Rift Valley works on a political equation that brings on board the Luyha, the Kamba and the Somali communities, they would be able to ’embarrass’ the system said to be working on a Raila or Interior CS Fred Matiang’i game plan.

According to the 2019 Census, the Kalenjin community has a population of 6.3 million, Luyha 6.8 million, Kamba 4.6 million and Somalis 2.8 million.

In the meantime, the DP appears a lone-ranger in his own government with his relationship with his boss appearing to have hit rock-bottom in recent days as the Building Bridges Initiative hurtles across the country.

The President’s private talks on Tuesday at State House with nine governors from the DP’s Rift Valley backyard over the BBI push signalled worse times ahead for the DP.

Ironically (or not), the DP did not attend the session that largely focused on the upcoming BBI rally in Nakuru on March 21 despite his allies firing salvos criticising the planning on Ruto’s own turf.

Analysts say the President could have decided to engage the governors directly to lower political temperatures in the region ahead of the rally after Ruto appeared to be less than enthusiastic on being confrontational and leading from the front.

Despite facing rejection by the country’s power brokers and influential bureaucrats controlling state power, the DP’s allies say he has kept his eyes on the prize — the presidency.

The Star has established that the dominant thinking within the DP’s think-tank is that he would remain President Kenyatta’s most formidable successor in 2022 if he fights from within the government than if he resigns.

The DP’s objection to President Kenyatta’s national agenda, including the BBI process and the handshake with then Opposition chief Raila — have made him an isolated lone-ranger in his own government.

Already the BBI wave barreling across the country under Raila’s captaincy threatens to consume the DP’s political fortunes as key politicians look united against his State House bid.

With the Uhuru-Raila unity flourishing and the possibility (certainty?) of their own a 2022 political game plan, the DP is walking a tightrope that analysts say could derail his 2022 ambitions.

On Wednesday political analysts and university professor of political science Macharia Munene told the Star that the DP would fight on despite pressure.

“The Deputy President appears to have resolved to fight from within. He believes resigning could project him as weaker,” the USIU don said.

Munene said the DP’s advisers must be monitoring the situation with an open mind to advise him promptly when the tide runs totally against him and tell him to resort to Plan B.

“A politician of Ruto’s calibre must be having a secret card that he would play at the most unexpected time,” he said.

ANC’s Ayub Savula said the DP’s only option was to resign from government because his position was no longer be tenable.

“Ruto must respect the institution of the presidency. The instruments of power were handed over to one person who is the president and they are not co-shared. The DP must shape up or ship out,” Savula said.

A press conference convened on Wednesday by a section of MPs coalescing around the President and his comrade Raila exposed the extent of the DP’s deeper troubles in government even as they signalled an impeachment.

“We know who has been undermining the President. Some of us have been keeping quiet for a long time but we now want to say that either he shapes up or ships out,” Kieni MP Kanini Kega said. He is Uhuru’s staunch  Mt Kenya ally.

However, DP Ruto has taken off the gloves, claiming there is a plan by a cabal of powerful people to use state machinery to assassinate him.

The DP’s daring public onslaught against the perceived plotters of his downfall signals his determination to fight on from within, believing he will be able to turn the tables on his detractors.

Though analysts say the DP needs to retreat and slow down his nationwide raids that appear to undermine the President in his own Mt Kenya backyard, Ruto has shown no signs of backing down.

Ruto is girding himself for a battle to break the jinx associated with the Office of the Deputy President since Independence — always a bridesmaid, never a bride. Only President Kibaki ever rose from DP to succeed a retiring president.

Multiple sources within the DP’s camp say he is more than determined to continue mounting a daring fight-back against his rivals and the so-called system without considering quitting. But they would say that.

Quitting, according to his allies, will not only be ‘disastrous’ to his presidential ambitions but would also embolden his fiercest critics who are daring him to resign or face impeachment.

“The Deputy President is here to stay. He is part of the Jubilee government and therefore he is going nowhere,” Kimilili MP Didmas Barasa, a close ally of Ruto, said.

His allies say they have the numbers to defeat a motion of even of impeachment in the National Assembly.

Soi MP Caleb Kositany said,”We dare them to bring that impeachment motion on.”