New King Maker in Town

July 23, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Agriculture Minister William Ruto (centre) after he was installed as a Sabaot elder during the launch of the Mt Elgon

If you have a keen interest in Kenyan Politics, you are likely to know that none of our past Presidents have really made themselves. We can trace one individual to whom they owe their good fortune to – A King Maker. A trip down memory lane should quickly underscore this assertion.

After the 1961 General Elections, Jaramogi O. Odinga, whose party – KANU, managed to clinch a convincing majority in Parliament, negotiated for the release of Jomo Kenyatta, and in 1963 catapulted him into power as Kenya’s first President. Barely 5 years into the Kenyatta presidency, succession politics were at play and this time it was A.G. Charles Njonjo who suggested to Kenyatta, that Daniel Moi would be an acceptable Vice-President. Njonjo would later also help Moi consolidate power upon succeeding Kenyatta, following his Death on August 22, 1978.

Of the King makers, however, none had managed to read the people’s mood and capture their attention as Hon. Raila Amolo Odinga did, with the ‘Kibaki Tosha’ declaration in 2002. Raila led a KANU break-away faction (LDP) to merge with Kibaki’s NAK, forming the unstoppable NARC that went on to form the government, in what was hailed as the second liberation. (sigh*)

Now, in the run up to the 2012 elections, the incumbent President Kibaki is set to be vacating the seat after his two constitutional terms and the battle is starting to heat up. The August 4th Referendum has thrown a spanner into the gears of the political realm and has left many disoriented and unable to discern who would emerge as a clear favorite to clinch the presidency.

There are many who have declared their interest. Among the front runners are PM Raila Odinga, and VP Kalonzo Musyoka. Other promising candidates are Gichugu MP Hon. Martha Karua, Minister for Internal Security Hon. George Saitoti, Saboti MP Eugene Wamalwa and Higher Learning Minister Hon. William Ruto. Though unlikely to be the next President, it is the later that I think will end up as the most influential person in the coming election cycle.

Hon. Ruto; hate him or love him, is fast emerging as a candidate for the hall-of-fame of Kenyan politics. He has stayed relevant, despite having quite a rap sheet that includes; KANU era skeletons, a never ending court case – in which he stands accused of defrauding the NSSF of millions, the maize scandal and ultimately is widely perceived to be one of the masterminds behind the Post Election Violence, that saw almost 1600 Kenyans lose their lives and about 300,000 displaced internally. It is a wonder to many that he still flies high, a Ministerial flag and even more baffling to me that he still breathes. This defies all logic; the man simply has too many political lives.

In 2007, leading up to the Elections, I recall erroneously referring to him as the most overrated politician in Kenya, it made no sense to me that he would be expected to deliver the Rift Valley vote to ODM. I humbly eat that pie.

Ruto is now the defacto leader of the Kalenjin Community, and the main face of the ‘NO’ campaign against the draft Constitution, that is now aligned with various church leaders. Yup, Church Leaders! Quite the unholy Union if you ask me.

Strange? I guess not, it is politics and as Mzee Moi once summed it up, “there are no permanent friends or Enemies in politics.” *And as if to underscore this, Moi has been hitting the campaign trail with the likes of former Mungiki sect leader Maina Njenga and even with Koigi Wa Wamwere, a man he had detained 4 times and forced into self exile twice. You can’t make this stuff up; the Kenyan Political realm is truly a jungle.

But I digress.

Ruto, who cut his teeth in the YK 92 days, is an apt student of Mr. Moi and is now back in his good graces after defying and dislodging him to become the Kalenjin kingpin. He has managed to stay relevant by putting on a brave face, speaking soberly in public and projecting an aura of invincibility. He seems to have understood, and rightly so, that Africans respect the powerful and the more power he appears to posses, the more respect/fear he inspires. Even in the face of the oncoming Tsunami that is the ICC prosecutor Ocampo, that promises to wash Kenya’s politics as ‘white’ as snow; Ruto hatishiki (is unmoved).

The man is a political professor in the making and in this political dispensation, I think he has seen very far and holds a few cards up his sleeve. With the impending ‘NO Camp’ Loss at the referendum, one may be forgiven for thinking that this will mean that his clout will come to a resounding halt. But that would be far from the truth, should the ‘NO Camp’ manage a modest 30% vote in the August 4th vote in a crushing loss, the man would still have plenty to smile about.

For one, he has already established himself as the leader of the Moi Orphans; soon the man will find himself as the leader of an even larger group, the Red ‘No Camp’ Orphans. And he is likely to stay relevant within this group by pressing for Constitutional reforms and promising to deliver on the much wanted changes. With the churches and other ‘NO Camp’ groups needing representation in Parliament, they may very well build around Ruto, a right-wing Conservative base, resembling Western style politics. Under this banner they will continue to agitate for changes in the Constitution, first to do away with the Kadhi Courts and Abortion clauses and in future other causes that they may wish to influence. Ruto could very well find himself leading the Country into the next Era of the ‘Politics of Ideology.’

As for Ocampo and the toothless ICC, they will come and go. My hunch is that they will discover that they never had adequate jurisdiction to try these Citizens of Kenya, or that the evidence was inconclusive and life will go on.

In as far as 2012 politics is concerned; Ruto will be the man to woo if you want to be President. Not only can he deliver a whole tribe to vote for you, but he would bring with him the well funded Moi Orphans who can no doubt contribute to your Campaign’s War chest, and though it remains to be seen – I would like to think that he could deliver a size-able chunk of the NO Vote if he plays his cards right as earlier underscored.

Among the three leading candidates for the 2012 Elections will no doubt be Raila and Kalonzo, with the third horse yet to emerge. Whereas Uhuru and  Martha Karua appear to have lost their fervor, it is likely that Karua will make good her threat to run for the presidency and manage a paltry 4th finish at best, while Kenyatta happily settles for a running mate position within the PNU circles, with the hopes of running for the top job in 2017.

But with over 70% of the Population being under 30 years old, Kenya is no Country for Old men. A Young sprightly candidate could easily emerge to lead this Nation. And in such an event, the isolated Ruto could very well find himself in a position of making the new King.

It is with this in mind, that I make the prediction that one William Samoei Arap Ruto, will emerge as the new King Maker.

About King'ori
Sillicon Valley Techie / Community Organizer / Activist. I dream of a day when the East African Federation shall become a reality!

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