By P Kibet for Std
The growing uncertainty over President Uhuru Kenyatta’s 2022 succession plan could be a force behind renewed political realignment in Rift Valley. At the centre of the new political change is the Deputy President William Ruto and his political nemesis former Bomet governor Isaac Ruto.
In the last five years, the two former political bosom buddies have not seen eye to eye on regional politics with Isaac Ruto forming his own political outfit-Chama Cha Mashinani to rival the Jubilee Party. However, over the week governors allied to Deputy President William Ruto went on a mission to court former Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto and Chama cha Mashinani (CCM) leader to come out of his self-imposed political retreat.
Unlike before the last year’s general elections, DP Ruto enlisted Uasin Gishu governor Jackson Mandago, John Lonyagapuo (West Pokot), Paul Chepkwony (Kericho) and Samuel Tunai (Narok) in a bid to win the outspoken CCM leader back to his fold. The high-powered delegation, which included top DP aide Farouk Kibet, has turned focus to former governor and his Chama Cha Mashinani party as succession politics gain momentum in Rift Valley.
Governor Mandago, who once supported “Pesa Mashinani” referendum fronted by Ruto in 2015 before ditching the former governor for William Ruto, says they have reached out to cement DP Ruto’s succession come 2022 and unite the Rift Valley.
“I have personally talked to both the President and his deputy on the intention to bring the former governor on board and our presence here today is to appeal to Ruto to be part us,” Mandago told the CCM delegates. He described Ruto as a national leader who was beyond local politics “and we want him to be part of Government so that we can utilise his experience and understanding of issues”. “Even the current crop of governors agree that what he was pushing was right and we want to tap into his ability,” Mandago added.
Political analysts, however, see the move by the Deputy President to court his political nemesis as a response to growing uncertainty surrounding the 2022 succession. University of Nairobi lecturer Herman Manyora opines that the move by DP Ruto is aimed at consolidating support in Rift Valley following rising of Baringo Senator Gideon Moi and President Uhuru-Raila Odinga handshake.
Prof Manyora notes that the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga has muddied the waters for William Ruto who seems to be playing catch up with the changing political playing field. “Ruto is under siege from two fronts from rising political star of Gideon Moi and Uhuru and Raila handshake. His move to court Ruto (Isaac) is aimed at consolidating support in his Rift Valley backyard and more so keep Gideon Moi in check,” Manyora says.
“William Ruto woke up to the political reality and he has to think outside the box and approach his political nemesis and seek alliances from other tribes,” he adds. “Without the support from South Rift coupled with the rise of the Baringo Senator, DP Ruto is likely to loss political stature.” With Jubilee in its second term, Isaac Ruto and his CCM party alongside KANU have emerged as a political alternative for Rift Valley region and could play key role in the 2022 succession.
The political differences between the two Rutos saw the Deputy President lead spirited campaigns to have Governor Joyce Laboso replace him at the helm of Bomet County. Ruto fell out with Deputy President William Ruto and later Jubilee Party after 2013 elections and accused the party on reneging on its manifesto to support devolution by sending more resources to counties.
Then Ruto (Isaac) was also convinced the Deputy President did not mean well for South Rift region and even formed a new party –Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM) in a bid to stem political control of south rift politics. Though after tasting defeat in the 2017 gubernatorial elections to Dr. Joyce Laboso, Ruto gravitated towards Jubilee Party but soon took hiatus from regional politics. “I felt lonely. I found myself alone and I have now decided to come back. Today I have returned to where I belong,” Ruto told the elated crowd in Kapkatet, Kericho County after the 2017 August elections.
According to Kapsoit ward Representative Paul Chirchir, who was one of the prominent MCAs who attended the Tumoi meeting the leaders have approached Ruto in a bid to cement 2022 William Ruto succession. “You will recall that Isaac Ruto declined to wear the Jubilee hat at Kapkatet stadium during last year’s repeat presidential election. The former governor had asked to be given a year to think over the matter and we went there on Thursday to listen to his decision,” he said. Chirchir said consensus among Rift Valley leaders is the fact that the Chama Cha Mashinani leader is a political force who can tip the scales in the 2022 general election. “Even when Isaac Ruto is down you cannot write him off. He is a shrewd politician who can break or make someone and that is why it will be risky for him to be left to tear away deputy president William Ruto support if Rift Valley in the 2022 general election campaign,” said the Kapsoit ward representative.
University of Kabianga lecturer and political analyst Dr Philip Chebunet on his part notes that the uncertainty in president camp has forced Ruto to look for options to consolidate his support base. He noted that the political mastery by Isaac Ruto could save Ruto from grueling campaigns to consolidate Rift Valley base. “Now that The President has not come out clearly to Support the “5th Agenda”…William Ruto, the option is to consolidate his support base. With the experience, Networks, friendship William Ruto has with Ruto (Isaac) his campaign strategy has been well oiled,” Chebunet noted.
He adds that for William Ruto to win the 2022 succession politics he has to unite the Rift Valley to speak with one voice and stop the onslaught from his keep political opponents. “Ruto Knows that if the Rift Valley speaks in one voice, it will send a strong message across the country hence the Need to net “The big boys” will be an added advantage for the deputy president as he consolidates support in the region,” he adds. He further notes for Jubilee to solidify its grip in the South Rift, DP Ruto has to work with Isaac Ruto and wipe out growing rebellion in the region against Jubilee which has been evident in the recent weeks
Source: The Standard