I have been following the ongoing conversation about whether Central Kenya will support Deputy President William Ruto for the Presidency in 2022 with a lot of interest.
However I did not intend to comment on it; not until I read an article by Timothy Bosire (MP for Kitutu Masaba) who now suggests that there will be political instability and tension in 2022 because of the ‘looming betrayal’.
First, it is important to understand why CORD is bringing up this narrative of Central Kenya not supporting Deputy President Ruto in 2022, now. CORD knows that the only way they even have a chance at stopping President Kenyatta‘s second term re-election bid is by creating a wedge between him and the Rift Valley vote bloc. They believe that the best way to do this is by convincing this bloc that even if they support Uhuru in 2017 the Central Kenya region will not support Ruto in 2022. So it is all about 2017, not 2022.
Second, CORD has nothing better to offer Ruto than what he already has at the moment. William Ruto is pioneer Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya. This position is more powerful and more secure than what Raila Odinga held as co-principal and Prime Minister under the previous coalition government.
Today the best that Raila can offer Ruto is a slot as his running mate in CORD; which means that CORD is asking Ruto to leave the Deputy Presidency, to run for the same seat under CORD. As Ruto has said on several occasions, one would have to be very stupid to leave a sure thing, to join another effort to attempt at getting the same thing.
Third; CORD is wrong about Central Kenya not supporting Ruto in 2022. This is because CORD suffers from a fatal flaw that is derived from the character of their leader Raila Odinga. Raila believes that politics is about the past. This is why Raila’s campaigns are always based on past deeds. He even negotiates based on ‘debts’ owed. CORD therefore assumes that Central Kenya will betray Ruto in 2022 because they believe the region does not pay political debts.
However they completely miss the point.
Politics is about the future. The current arrangement between William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta was built on an agreement about the future of the Rift Valley, and Kenya; not the past. If Uhuru and Ruto had attempted to negotiate on the past in 2013, they would have failed to agree. As we head into 2022 I am sure that Ruto will have the same conversation with Central Kenya that Uhuru had with Rift Valley towards 2013. This conversation will be made easier by the fact that Ruto will have successfully deputized Central Kenya’s son, for 10 years.
Central Kenya’s support for Ruto in 2022 will therefore not be built on what Ruto will have done for Uhuru till then. All that this past will do for Ruto is create a favourable platform for him to assure Central Kenya that what he promises to do for the region post-Uhuru Kenyatta, he will do. Central Kenya will therefore support William Ruto for the Presidency in 2022 not because they are paying a debt, but because they are looking forward to future benefits from his presidency.
One does not come from where Ruto has come from politically, to where he is; by chance. As Ruto says; ‘anajua kujipanga’. This means that what makes the 2022 presidency a sure bet for him is because he will have earned it. By preparing and negotiating effectively, before then.
(Wambugu is a Director at Change Associates, a political think-tank)