A boy playing in the fields got stung by what some of my relatives would call an ‘ayela-yela’; a stinging plant. He ran to his mother crying. She said ‘son, it is because you only touched it slightly. The next time you touch it, grasp it tightly and it will not harm you’. This little story has a political moral, and I hereby dedicate it to all men and women publicly and privately nursing presidential ambitions, particularly for 2022.
Be bold in your intention ? do not timidly try to touch the presidency, grasp it! No one honours the faint-hearted. Especially, not the electorate.
Now that the burning advice I have been harbouring is out of the way, allow me to fast-forward to 2022. The reason I will not dwell on the 2017 polls today is because we already know the competition is down to two men. One is Uhuru Kenyatta, and the other’s identity is a hazy shadow; hidden underneath a misty NASA mask. But we can call the mystery man Agwambo. Just for now.
Once again, indulge me.
We are in March, the year is 2022. Scenario one; Uhuru Kenyatta’s second term is coming to an end. During his last term, Kenyans witnessed a bolder, more unapologetic president. Now, in the last year of his presidency, he is busy crafting a plan to anoint a candidate from the Gikuyu, Embu and Meru communities to become a running mate. Or perhaps, even president.
Coming from a dynasty, he will want to install an amiable candidate, someone he will bankroll and own, someone who will not only serve as insurance to the GEMA community but who will also be loyal to him. Long story short: he will back someone who will protect the interests of the GEMA elite.
Meanwhile, Kenyatta’s natural political heir, William Ruto, will be crisscrossing the country canvasing for votes. Ruto, by this time, is in a ‘Catch 22’ situation. Reason?
He will be damned if he goes with a GEMA running mate and damned if he does not. If he does, he risks losing the support of the other communities.
He will risk facing a 2002-like alliance against a Kikuyu-Kalenjin hegemony. Yet he knows that it will be near impossible to ascend to power without Kikuyu support.
History shows this community only votes for their own.
In 1992, their votes were split between Matiba and Kibaki. In 1997, they voted for Kibaki. In 2002, their votes were once again split between Kibaki and Uhuru. In 2007 they voted for Kibaki and in 2013 they voted overwhelmingly for Uhuru. It follows then that in 2017 and 2022, they will follow the same voting pattern.
To build himself insurance therefore, he will seek to amend the Constitution to include the position of Prime Minister. Because with this strategy, he can accommodate a Kikuyu ally, thus motivating the community to come out and vote. Moreover, this becomes a strategy of getting at least half the GEMA vote if he can’t have it all.
Now let’s flip the scenario. Once again, fast forward to 2022, with Raila Odinga as the incumbent, having won the 2017 election. He garnered the most votes among the opposition candidates in the 2017 elections, and with Jubilee unable to get past the 50 per cent plus one mark, Raila won the presidency.
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He did this with Kalonzo as his running mate through a run-off, having been backed by all the communities save for the Kikuyu and Embu. By this time, even the Meru backed Raila. He has governed for 5 years, and Ruto has been the de facto leader of opposition. Ruto has been as much of a pain on Raila’s backside, as the former Prime Minister had been when Jubilee was in power.
Under NASA, Raila proposes the creation of a PM position but it is unable to pass through the two Houses of Parliament. So the positions of Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister he promised failed to materialise.
However, Raila keeps his end of the bargain by giving a few Cabinet slots to each principal knowing he needs a majority in Parliament to rule.
Time and space do not allow for a comprehensive 2022 analysis for now, particularly for other contenders to the presidency. But I invite them to keep their eyes on the prize and meditate upon the stinging plant ‘ayela-yela’ story.