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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Kenyatta Owes Ruto Nothing

DP William Ruto has considerable political skills, no doubt. But he also has immense vulnerabilities and failings. Just like we all do. I am astounded by Ruto’s incessant bouts of political and tactical naiveté. What is also baffling is hard, often at the risk of sounding ridiculous, he tries to give the impression that everything is okay in the Jubilee tent. We all know that treachery is the currency for transacting politics.

Over the past couple of weeks Ruto has vehemently reaffirmed that Jubilee is strong and that his relationship with Kenyatta is cordial and strong. He has made this claim more than 10 times in just two weeks. This has been the preface of his public statements, at funerals, in church and at fundraising events. The question is why is it important for Ruto to defend his relationship with Kenyatta? Who needs to be reassured that Kenyatta remains loyal to Ruto and that he will hand him the presidency in 2022?

There is something going on here. One thing that you can take to the bank is that not all is well in the Jubilee Alliance. In many ways things aren't going quite as well as the Ruto had plotted. Remember he had this halo of Kingmaker, which comes with comes with an outsized proportion of entitlement. We saw this with Jaramogi Odinga (with Uluru na Kenyatta); with Tom Mboya (when he neutralized Odinga in 1966 and helped Kenyatta contain Odinga); with Njonjo (when he thought that he fended of the Change the Constitution move that would have made it impossible for Moi to succeed Kenyatta); with Raila Odinga (When he "betrayed" Nyachae and proclaimed Kibaki Tosha). Kenya's political winners sprout on the manure of shameless deceit and treachery.

Why does Ruto think it will be different for him? He gravely antagonized Moi in 2007 and sought to dethrone him, extinguish his legacy and install himself as the King of the Kalenjin. One would think that Ruto was disgusted by politics of patronage an hegemonic control of ethnic  enclaves., that he would favor egalitarian , merit based politics. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Ruto want his own Kalenjin Empire. According to Ruto and many really cleaver Kenyans, Raila threw Ruto under the bus after he fought for him so hard in 2007. Bear in mind that the Hague victim narrative made Ruto, and legitimized the "coalition of the accused" in 2013.

Ruto has realized that his path to the presidency in 2022 , solely on the basis of loyalty to Kenyatta, is highly improbable. I think he is trying to build a narrative that indulges the state of being victim. He want to be the one that stands up and say that Moi and his son Gideon gloated over his ICC tribulations. While Ruto says that Kimemia and other Kibaki bureaucrats nailed him on ICC, he also maintains that Raila was responsible for his indictment.

Ruto also wants to say in 2022 is that all he got after helping Kenyatta win the election in 2013 is betrayal. Ruto is just getting ready his victimology discourse as a tool to rally Kalenjins for political purpose.

To remain relevant in Kenyan politics Ruto has to give up this angry victimology narrative. He must roll up his sleeves and fight politically, convince Kenyans that he can compete for the highest office, rather than sit and wait for Kenyatta to endorse him in 2022. That will not happen and I think Ruto is smart enough to understand that. There is nothing personal in politics, it just politics.

So Ruto, you have a chance to run in 2017. You don't have to win. But you have to show Kenyans that you have fire in your belly and an appetite for the presidency. Saitoti always waited for an endorsement from Moi and it never came through. Loyalty is not the currency of Kenyan politics.

Moi succeeded Kenyatta not because he was patient and loyal and could take crap from Kenyatta's inner circle. He became president because he outwitted Njonjo, Mungai, Koinange, Mahihu and Kihika. The game was different then and Moi played by the rules of that game.

Ruto must understand the game and play by the rules or DP will the best he will ever achieve.

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