By Hon Irungu Kangata
Debate is now raging in Kenya as to whether Kikuyus will vote for William Ruto in 2022.The underlying doubt is based on history -that Kikuyus have never voted for a candidate from another tribe .
Well,this is not the first political myth that will be broken-many have .Like the myth that once held that Raila can never offer a serious run for the presidential seat.This was smashed in 2007 when Raila missed it by a whisker.
That Kikuyus -never -vote- for -another- tribe myth will be broken in 2022 for several reasons .
Firstly ,unlike other suitors like Kalonzo or Musalia in 2013 or Raila in 2007 who expected a “tosha” declaration by the region kingpin ,Ruto has been making personal forays into the region appealing directly to the voters .This has enabled him to create his own network.
Secondly ,unlike all previous general elections held since the return of democracy in 1992,there will be no obvious Kikuyu kingpin in the year 2022 .This leaves the central Kenya political field open to any good player .There are several pretenders to that throne but none has clout as compared to either Kibaki or Matiba or Uhuru during their heydays .For example ,Peter Kenneth performed miserably in 2013 in comparison to those previous kingpins and therefore he is yet to create a base .In any event,based on the fact that he is yet to announce his plans for the year 2017,Peter’s moves seem rudderless and uninspiring.
Thirdly ,if the voting pattern that is obtaining in other regions particularly Kalenjin land is replicated in central Kenya ,young Kikuyu leaders may capture leadership positions replacing the old folks in 2017.If this happens ,Ruto will benefit in two ways- he will have an urbane clique whose primodial loyalty to ethnicity has waned ;and they will be young enough to wait for a potential 10 year Ruto term (as opposed to the old guards who are in a hurry to seize power ).
Infact ,such a younger generation of politicians will have a vested interest to have Ruto win the presidency.This is because that lull or break by the Kikuyu from power enhances their very own chances of winning the coveted seat in subsequent years because this will have assuaged other ethnic groups albeit temporarily .
As to whether the youth will capture power in central Kenya come 2017 is not clear.Well ,this is usually the logical consequence of an obvious demographic reality -youth constitute the largest share of persons in Kenya hence they will demand their rightful share of power -but Ruto ought to either directly or indirectly hasten this process. Such a shift is what helped him cement his position as kingpin in Rift valley noting leaders from that region has the lowest average age in the country.
He can in a subtle manner sponsor young candidates in the region but this strategy has risks. Where it backfires,politicians who loathe him at a personal level emerge .Where it succeeds ,diehards emerge .These diehards will be crucial in countering Kikuyu supremacists (Kihika reincarnates )who will most likely emerge for selfish reasons come 2018 -as they have started now emerging .
Finally , President Uhuru has openly and vigorously supported him unlike how previous presidents treated all other previous deputies. For example ,Saitoti was a lame-duck vice president .Kibaki was rumored that he supported Musalia but there is no evidence to that effect. But most importantly ,Uhuru has given Ruto all that matters -leeway to campaign in all regions and the power and space to leverage key leaders like Members of Parliament .All indications point towards Uhuru repeating what his father did -supporting a non-kikuyu to ascend to power .
But Ruto needs to continue working hard .For example ,he needs to include Kikuyu vernacular media stations in his overall media strategy of courting central region noting it shapes opinion .It may not be wise for him to directly go for interviews in these stations but he can use Kikuyu proxies. But apart from banking on the Kikuyu vote,he needs to have moles inside Cord.The veil covering the moles should not be lifted now but rather they should stay embedded inside Cord until an opportune time emerges preferably after 2017 elections .
In a nutshell,Ruto is doing that which the other people who courted Kikuyus before failed to do -working hard .
Mp Kiharu .