HAS DP RUTO FINALLY BECOME KENYA’S DE FACTO OPPOSITION LEADER?

DP Ruto with South Mugirango MP Sylvanus Osoro in Kisii town during his recent visit. Photo courtesy of Citizen Digital.

“Walisema hustler hatakuja. Nimekuja sijakuja?” the DP, who seemed pleasantly surprised and reinvigorated by the frenzied reception he was accorded in Kisii, roared out. The crowd excitedly answered: “Umekuja!”

 

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DP Ruto’s Friday political rally in Kisii heralded a new and significant milestone in his political journey; it marked the beginning of his entry into Kenyan opposition politics.


The Kisii show of political might against the powers that be might have however, plunged him into the political unknown. As they say, the die is already cast and there is no turning back.


For the last 23 years (Since 1997), Mr. Ruto has been in government, except for a short spell between 2002 and 2007, after KANU’s Uhuru Kenyatta lost to NARC’s Mwai Kibaki. Therefore, opposition politics is largely unfamiliar territory for Ruto.


His deviant entry into Kisii, despite the earlier opposition and protests on the ground, his language while addressing charged-up crowds, and his reference to his government in the third person voice, while criticizing it for misusing the police, are all hallmarks of opposition politics.


“Walisema hustler hatakuja. Nimekuja sijakuja?” the DP, who seemed pleasantly surprised and reinvigorated by the frenzied reception he was accorded in Kisii, roared out. The crowd excitedly answered: “Umekuja!”


“… Wawache kutumia Polisi vibaya na wale wanataka siasa wakuje wapatane na mimi…,” Dr. Ruto went on. This kind of language is normally the preserve of a chief opposition leader.

The huge crowd that turned out to receive him defied the Covid-19 social distancing rules to freely jostle and mingle around DP William Ruto in Kisii. Photo courtesy of Citizen Digital.

The behavior of the crowds in the Kisii rally was a confirmation that Kenyans already miss opposition politics. People threw all caution about Covid-19 rules to the wind and mingled freely.


It is amazing how Dr. Ruto and Raila Odinga have dramatically switched political sides since the March 2018 handshake.


While Ruto now seems to have finally taken up the role of the de facto leader of opposition in Kenya, Raila seems to have replaced Ruto in government. However, Raila’s exact role in the new arrangement remains unclear.


Kenya’s new political phenomenon places both Dr. Ruto and Mr. Odinga in very awkward positions, though.


While Ruto is forced to have one leg in government, reminding all and sundry that he is the duly elected Deputy President, his other leg is firmly in the opposition for political survival. It is a delicate, balancing act.


He finds himself in a situation where he has to politically counter the ever-growing forces against him (led by his boss) from within his own Jubilee government. This way, he cuts the figure of a leader fighting his government.


Sooner than later, he will be forced to choose one: either fully remain in government till 2022 or bolt out to the opposition, from where he can freely campaign for his 2022 presidential bid.


On the other hand, Mr. Odinga also finds himself in a catch-22 situation.
He can no longer freely point out the rot in the Jubilee government, including the rampant corruption because he has a “beneficial” working relationship with President Uhuru.


This scenario gives Mr. Odinga’s political detractors the leeway to declare that he – together with his ODM brigade – is eating government goodies. As it were, they are only observing the good table manners of not talking when your mouth is full.


The perception that Mr. Odinga is in government, though without a portfolio, may, in a way, end up working against him in the looming BBI referendum and 2022 elections, as he might be forced to carry part of Jubilee’s stinky skunk and baggage.


These are indeed very interesting times in Kenyan politics. With the opposition leader defending the government of the day and the Deputy President behaving like a de facto opposition leader, it can’t get any messier than this.


I hope Dr. Ruto is already taking lessons on how to dodge teargas canisters and run with teargas in his lungs. He should also familiarize himself with evading police dragnets to attend outlawed political rallies in barricaded venues.

Dr. William Ruto addressed crowds from the sun-roof of his vehicle, at various stops in Kisii County. Photo courtesy of Citizen Digital.


Such aggressive antics and confrontation with the police are all found in a day’s work for any main Kenyan opposition leader, and Dr. Ruto should brace himself for it.

If Ruto finally bolts and begins campaigning for his 2022 presidential bid from outside government, he should expect a lot of state intimidation. And I see it coming soon.

If you’re in doubt, you can save this post for future reference.


The leader who currently comes on top of things in Kenyan politics is one Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta. When all is said and done, when Political pundits and Historians finally write about Uhuru’s presidency in the future, the HANDSHAKE will stand out as his cleverest political masterstroke.

Uhuru, Raila's handshake impact on investor confidence, political stability  - The standard

The handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and the then NASA leader Raila Odinga, politically gave Uhuru an upper hand over both Raila and DP Ruto.

In a single political move, the handshake on one hand effectively tamed Raila and completely stopped the body blows dealt on Uhuru’s government by the vicious NASA opposition attacks…


On the other hand, it enabled Uhuru to neuter and cut to size his bothersome DP together with his rowdy brigade. He decisively checkmated Ruto in parliament and hence government. You can call it, killing two birds with one stone. Expect more fireworks in the near future.

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