And besides the old Kanu connection with VP Kalonzo Musyoka, Ruto appears to enjoy cordial relations with the VP. It is the same ties that may have occasionally persuaded Ruto to rush to Kalonzo’s defence whenever there have been attempts to isolate him.
But describing G7 as a loose grouping glued together by their common fear of Raila, political scientist Amukowa Anangwe maintains: “In the long run, they will split to chase their individual interests”. “Ruto is the most self-conceited politician of them all. He is in the grouping purely for personal ambition and gain and he will only remain in G7 for as long as he is getting the necessary political mileage or other candidates are supporting his presidential bid,” says the former Cabinet minister.
Ruto’s political influence has indeed stretched by the day, but sceptical rivals have opted to look the other way. In fact, the biggest folly of challengers has been to underestimate him.
Although, for instance, he reportedly opted to ally himself to the Raila wing of ODM in 2007 after the ground had shifted in favour of the PM – courtesy of initial efforts by Sally Kosgei (now Agriculture minister), party chairman Henry Kosgey, and the late Kipkalya Kones – Ruto quickly inherited and owned Rift Valley vote.
Upstaged big guns
He spearheaded campaigns in the region sweeping the boards and in the event upstaged more experienced politicians like Kosgey, the late Kones, and former Cabinet minister Nicholas Biwott, to emerge the political kingpin of the Kalenjin, following Moi’s retirement.
An indefatigable campaigner, Ruto later teamed up with the clergy in 2010, during the constitutional referendum. He went against the Government led by President Kibaki and the Premier, by leading a crusade against enactment of the Constitution.
Although his side did not win the poll, Yatta MP Charles Kilonzo says Ruto won nearly half the votes in parts of Eastern despite the fact that local leaders led by the VP pushed for the ‘Yes’ campaign.
“For all his perceived ill deeds one must give credit to Ruto for being a forceful campaigner. You can only ignore him at your own peril,” says the MP.
Besides his youthfulness, Miguna Miguna separately observes that unlike most of his political partners and rivals, Ruto is a teetotaller, meaning he is “less distracted from political campaigning”.