By MAKAU MUTUA !
I see the silhouette of a smiling Deputy President William Ruto. Slightly behind him to the left is the surging CORD leader, the indomitable Raila Odinga. Then the picture cuts away to a listing ship with the word â€œJubileeâ€ emblazoned on its stern.
Methinks the gathering political storms in the country could sire a new political realignment. I donâ€™t know what â€œpolitical potionâ€ Mr Odinga imbibed in Boston, but it is clear Agwambo has a new lease of life. My crystal ball tells me the most likely beneficiary of Mr Odingaâ€™s rebirth is the wily Ruto. It doesnâ€™t matter who among Mr Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta emerges the victor. Either way, Mr Ruto will be the bigger winner.
Letâ€™s not forget that Jubilee brought together Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto â€“ in the guise of TNA and URP â€“ as a tool of expedience. Mr Kenyatta knew that he couldnâ€™t beat Mr Odinga without Mr Ruto. He first dumped Wiper supremo Kalonzo Musyoka and then politically neutralised Amani leader Musalia Mudavadi.
Mr Ruto was the bride Mr Kenyatta coveted the most because of his complete lock on the Kalenjin vote and their shared predicament over The Hague trials. Mr Ruto had to hitch his wagon to his fellow ICC indictee because he stood no chance of marching to State House solo as the top dog.
Mr Kenyattaâ€™s marriage to Mr Ruto is born of convenience, not political principle. Make no mistake about it, both Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto are pragmatists. Each man is a political powerhouse in his own right. None of them would bow to the other unless realpolitik demands it. Thatâ€™s why Mr Ruto has agreed to play second fiddle to Mr Kenyatta â€“ for now.
Mr Kenyatta and his close lieutenants went into Jubilee eyes wide open, and without any illusions about Mr Ruto. They know Mr Ruto craves power. Thatâ€™s why they wonâ€™t take their eyes off the man from Eldoret. But Mr Ruto isnâ€™t a political strategist that can be discounted. Heâ€™s a tactician of considerable talent. He quickly smells political blood and swoops in for a swift kill.
These admirable traits arenâ€™t lost on Mr Kenyatta. Whatâ€™s my point? Methinks the calls for national dialogue and referenda by Mr Odinga will open serious fissures in existing political alliances. Letâ€™s take this to the bank â€“ there arenâ€™t permanent political enemies in Kenya.
Kenyaâ€™s political elite isnâ€™t monogamous. Every major political figure in Kenya is a serial political polygamist. Just look at CORD. Mr Musyoka, the former blue-eyed boy of Kanu â€“ once the countryâ€™s political colossus â€“ is today firmly in bed with Mr Odinga, Kanuâ€™s former number one public enemy.
So is Senator Moses Wetangâ€™ula, the so-called third CORD co-principal. Mr Wetangâ€™ula has never had a progressive bone in his body. Thatâ€™s the pitiable state of Kenyan politics. Thatâ€™s why Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto can easily be put asunder. Iâ€™ve been watching â€“ and analysing â€“ Mr Rutoâ€™s public statements carefully. While Mr Kenyatta has left the door ajar on dialogue with CORD, Mr Ruto has been a diehard refusenik.
One could be mistaken for thinking that itâ€™s Mr Ruto â€“ and not Mr Kenyatta â€“ whoâ€™s calling the shots in Jubilee. But I believe Mr Ruto is acting like a blowhard to â€œconvinceâ€ Mr Kenyatta that heâ€™s firmly in his corner. That alone should arouse suspicions within TNA. Mr Ruto is a master of the political feint.
I think he sends out his political surrogates to rock the Jubilee boat while he feigns fury. My view is that Mr Ruto is misadvising Mr Kenyatta to reject dialogue with Mr Odinga. What will Mr Ruto get out of Mr Odingaâ€™s rise if Mr Kenyatta refuses dialogue? Methinks Mr Ruto hopes that will publicly isolate Mr Kenyatta and make his presidency tenuous. Several scenarios are then possible.
First, Mr Kenyattaâ€™s hold on power could be severely weakened by Mr Odingaâ€™s high moral ground. Mr Kenyatta would then limp to the next election a lame duck. In 2017, Mr Ruto could then pick apart Mr Kenyattaâ€™s political carcass and ascend to State House. He could do so by cobbling a new coalition with other ethnic kingpins. The second scenario has Mr Ruto ganging up with CORD to impeach Mr Kenyatta. In this palace coup, Mr Ruto would become President before 2017
Mr Ruto canâ€™t wait for Mr Kenyatta to serve two terms. He may abandon Mr Kenyatta in 2017 and make a pact to support Mr Odinga for State House. The logic is that Mr Ruto doesnâ€™t believe that TNA will support him if Mr Kenyatta serves two terms. But Mr Odinga, who will be 77 in 2022, is likely to agree to serve one term and then back Mr Ruto. This is a deal Mr Ruto can live with. Is that why Mr Ruto is smiling?