Signs of Deputy President William Ruto and Amani leader Musalia Mudavadi hatching a 2022 election pact have elicited speculation the DP has surrendered to forces fighting his presidential bid.
The two leaders are reportedly forging an alliance that would complicate the presidential election matrix for Raila Odinga’s handshake side if the ODM leader vies.
Lawyer Prof Makau Mutua said he had information Ruto will bow out of the race and endorse Musalia for the top seat.
He has of late made a tactical retreat from his former fired-up campaign to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Political observers say he may have chosen this approach owing to the government’s heightened attention to his activities and those of his allies.
In a statecraft type of execution, a seemingly elaborate laid down plan to bring down the DP is taking shape, pushing the firebrand politician into a corner.
His key lieutenants are facing removal from plum House committee slots and his once-iron grip of the Jubilee Party has been greatly weakened.
Those in the Senate — among them Kipchumba Murkomen, Susan Kihika and Kithure Kindiki — have been removed.
The Jubilee disciplinary team is expected to take a decision on the tenure of five nominated senators mostly allied to Ruto.
Uhuru has further deflated tRuto’s bid with his open show of no commitment to support his deputy as he once did and loudly proclaimed.
Ruto’s office budget has been cut by almost 40 per cent, dealing a blow to his travel and hospitality spending.
Powerful people in government have pledged to frustrate his ambition, a situation he acknowledged as the work of ‘the system’.
At the height of the turbulence of his ugly split with President Kenyatta, Ruto has resorted to keeping quiet, unsettling his detractors.
He was said to have shunned meetings at State House but was part of the President’s meeting on Wednesday with governors to discuss their largely inadequate Covid-19 response, among other issues.
His tone on Twitter has also changed of late, he is posting more more messages about State business, as well as condolences.
The Star’s Siasa has been apprised that Ruto has asked his allies not to publicly take on President Kenyatta, ostensibly the reason many of them have also taken a back seat and been muted.
The DP has also ceased publicly attacking Raila, probably fearing he is losing more and more allies to the ODM leader.
Laikipia County MP Catherine Waruguru and her Laikipia North counterpart Sarah Lekorere are the latest to pledge their allegiance to the Uhuru-Raila handshake.
On Tuesday, Raila symbolically offered sanitiser to Waruguru, who decamped from Ruto’s Tangatanga movement.
More sojourns to Raila’s Capitol Hill office are expected in coming days as lawmakers ‘kiss the ring,’ while pundits say this is just the season of politics.
The DP also stopped his parallel food distribution programme, with branded ‘Ruto’ packages, this having been viewed as defiance of Uhuru.
The head of state wants all Covid-19 donations channeled through the Emergency Response Fund board chaired by KBL boss Jane Karuku.
Given these moves or machinations, the question on the lips of many people is whether Ruto and his allies have found a home in Musalia’s camp.
Political analyst Martin Andati says the DP may not have surrendered per se but could have made a tactical retreat because of the pressure on him.
“Ruto’s diehard supporters who are uncomfortable with the handshake are finding a home around Musalia,” he told the Star.
Dr Charles Nyambuga of Maseno University also says Ruto has not surrendered but for now is only “an injured general”.
He said the surrender theory cannot apply when “Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi is oozing and shooting from the hip constantly.”
“I don’t think he has surrendered. Internally, the guy is doing a lot of things. The only thing is that he is an injured general and his numbers have slumped down.”
“He is not as strong as he was, but he has certainly not surrendered. You see what Musalia is doing? It is with the support of Ruto. There are lots of things going on underground,” Nyambuga said.
In a recent tweet, Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi also alluded to Musalia and Ruto working together.
The ODM secretary for Political Affairs said the ANC leader and the embattled Ford Kenya boss Moses Wetang’ula are acting as Ruto’s mouthpieces.
“Everyone now knows clearly where their hearts are,which is their right. We wish them well,” the tweet reads.
When pressed, the lawmaker said, “I have heard of the same [pact with Ruto] but I think Musalia is trying to find his bearings. For now he seems lost, hence, he is bound to clutch at any straw.
“He is groping in darkness … Ruto will be a convenient ally now that he is finding that the star-studded handshake BBI team is already getting full.”
Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali, however, came close to acknowledging the Ruto surrender plan, saying,“Even in a football team, a coach may decide to save a player for future assignments.”
In an interview with the Star, the former Majority Whip of the National Assembly hinted at talks with Musalia, among options in the works.
“Since Musalia has an advantage in Western and Ruto has the advantage in other areas, why can’t they combine forces? There is no harm.
“It doesn’t matter who becomes president and who doesn’t. When working as a team, everyone’s ideas will be brought on board,” the MP said.
Their [Tangatanga] most ideal situation, however, Washiali said, is one in which Ruto takes the lead “since he commands a national following”.
“Ruto is way ahead of Musalia. We don’t want to go into this thing to lose. We will be a laughing stock if Raila beats us yet everybody has beaten him before.”
Washiali, a key Ruto ally in Western, restated, “We have to put our best foot forward and it will be Ruto because of his national image.
“If Kenya was Luhya, I would go for Musalia anytime but because Kenya is beyond Luhya, Ruto definitely will look better.”
“We are encouraging them [Ruto and Musalia] to work together as they are sober and we really wish to elect them to office,” the MP said.
Ruto’s deputy press secretary Emmanuel Talam, when asked about retreat and talks with Musalia, said the DP is not into political realignments now.
“The Deputy President is focused on supporting the President deliver his agenda. He is not interested in politics for now.
“His main agenda is to see the lives of Kenyans improve and the country grow,” Talam said.
Andati’s further observes the Ruto-Musalia talks do not amount to a coalition in the making as “there are many possibilities in politics.”
“It could be permanent or temporary. You can’t conclusively say that this is a coalition in the making.
“Don’t rule out the possibility of Ruto and Raila working together in 2022. Nobody expected Uhuru and Raila would work together,” he said.
Andati concedes the DP has to change tact as a Raila-Uhuru force in the next election could deliver a lethal blow to his ambitions.
He adds the DP is at a disadvantage as “the forces against him are very strong and have indicated they will do all it takes to block him from the race.”
“Raila is a strong candidate too, so he is not easy to beat when he joins forces with the President.”
However, Andati urged caution in drawing conclusions about 2022 alliances at this stage. “You can’t say with certainty that Musalia and Ruto will be on the same side in 2022 or Raila and Uhuru on the same side.”
Cotu boss Francis Atwoli dismissed assertions that Ruto has massive support in Western.
“Luhyas will not vote for Ruto. Of that I am sure. And I am also sure Ruto will not be the president of Kenya,” he said.
“He should stop wasting his money,” he added.
Source: The Star