Thursday, 23 April 2015

Deputy President’s Ruto’s Kalenjin support base threatened

The fallout from the political war between William Ruto and Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto will erode the unity of the deputy president’s Kalenjin constituency in the Rift Valley and significantly weaken his bargaining position in the run up to the 2017 elections.

While President Uhuru Kenyatta is keen to deliver a united Kikuyu vote for Jubilee in the elections, the rivalry between the two Rutos threatens to split Rift Valley and weaken claims that the two have the interests of the community at heart.

In the rivalry, former President Daniel Moi stands to bolster his position by picking up a constituency that sees the two Rutos as too divisive and too proud to reach a compromise.

In the short term, the differences stand to dent the credibility of William Ruto as a suave political operative, and present him as a self-serving individual who has been mesmerized by trappings of power in government.

It might be possible to deduce that perhaps his political tactics are overrated, or explained that two difficult years in office have softened this self-made politician who rose from nothing to become a key player of our time.

Governor Ruto will come off badly too, as a wealthy politician consumed by feeling of entitlement to offering political direction to the Kalenjin people.

A few days ago, at fundraiser in Elgeiyo Marakwet, Governor Rutto said that the people of Kenya know a Ruto will become the president of Kenya one day, only that it has not been decided which Rut(t)o.

There has been rapprochement between Governor Ruto and Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, whose political prospects are cleanly not for 2017 but perhaps 2022.

In seeking closer ties with Mr Moi and KANU, Governor Ruto is raising his stakes and hardening the prospects of possible deal with the deputy president to end their row.

As a student of former President Moi and an orphan of a directionless political system under Kibaki that threw off scholars of contemporary politics, Rutto is better prepared for political contest with anyone.

He is almost succeeding in positioning himself as the Kipsigis leader who is being molested by a jealous elder brother, William.

The thinking in Rift Valley is that even before the ICC case is out of the way, the storm in Rift Valley, which the deputy president is obviously unwilling to douse off, is a dangerous miscalculation of a man who hopes to one day become president.

Bomet, Kericho politics

Back in Rift Valley, the fight stands to benefit no other politician, as most in the South Rift are one-dimensional products of political accidents.

In North Rift, they live in the shadows of the deputy president, lacking access or spine to genuinely advise the deputy president on the pettiness of the region’s politics.

But even with the exhausting shadow wars with the deputy president, Governor Rutto will not be a pushover in Kipsigis politics (Bomet and Kericho).

Barring prosecutable allegations of corruption, anyone seeking to beat him in 2017 gubernatorial election in Bomet is deluding themselves if they would not have an elaborate campaign plan, complete with tactics, by the end of this year.

His main potential challengers for the governor’s post, which will be an extension of tuft wars with Ruto, include Sotik MP Joyce Laboso, former MP Julius Kones, former Communications Commission of Kenya boss Sammy Kirui and accountant Ernest Cheruiyot.

Ms Laboso is supposed to be beneficiary of a Rutto tragedy, but she is starting off from an extremely weak position, beset by petty fights with local journalists, regular sneering at perceived weak opponents and lack of strategy.

Male chauvinists will mock he devotion to the development of the community, following her marriage to Western Kenya, and brand her Ruto’s project.

It is my assessment that if all other factors remain the same, beyond the year, Governor Ruto will be unbeatable in 2017 election because of a wide grassroots support network that has been well cushioned from any bad press relating to allegations of misuse of county funds.

Anything else will be comparable to a legend of a hyena trailing a man with the hope that the hand would fall off, offering a feast.

That hand is not even there in Kericho, where Governor Paul Chepkwony’s political prospects are dependent on local business class and the final result of Ruto-Rutto duel.

Kericho Senator Charles Keter, an ally of the deputy president, would be the obvious beneficiary in the event of a defeat of Rutto, but he is hardliner who is unsure how to benefit.

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