As we toy with the question of who may likely succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta when his term lapses in 2022, there are factors we must keep in mind no matter how far his retirement looks on the calendar.
As we do so, let us take cognizant of unpredictable political realities around this "taboo" subject for as we saw under the 1970’s change-the-Constitution crusade, it may not be against the law but then it isn’t politically correct to imagine other reasons that may get a Kenyan leader out of the way.
They include that common denominator to all species of mankind, rich and poor; death and mental derangement and other forms of incapacitation that afflict the mortal creation of God.
The other reality is that we have to assume all the political actors currently on the campaign blitz for the office do not realise that we are four years away; or that an unknown hand could get them off the starting blocks and so they will be there on the day Kenyans make the big decision in 2022; or that we all will also be there to take part in the crucial decision.
We also have to assume that President Uhuru Kenyatta will not be the cunning African leader, who finding himself having to hand over the sweet instruments of power before he turns 60, decides to do on us what some of his friends are calling a "KaPutin". In short, as we saw in that revelatory recording of former Kamukunji MP Samuel Mbugua, plan is afoot to change the Constitution (a move which Deputy President William Ruto has tellingly opposed) through a referendum and thereby create an office for Uhuru like Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has done.
The conspiracy, it is whispered, is to create the powerful Office of Prime Minister ostensibly to accommodate Raila Odinga when in actual fact, it is Uhuru’s ‘soft-landing’ after 2022. That means Ruto and Raila, and any other candidate will have to fight for the titular Office of the President whose powers will have migrated to a new office that would allow Central Kenya's political power-house to still hold on to the yam and knife. For this to work, we have to make another assumption that since we are seemingly treating power games in Kenya as merely the issue of the ‘tyranny of Kelenjin and Kikuyu’ numbers, the rest of the 40 plus ethnic groups may not close ranks and consign Ruto’s ethnic community and that of Mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s son to the political periphery. In politics, they say, nothing is impossible. After all, it is itself "the art of the possible".
There are already signs that this resentment could be building up and it does not help matters that Ruto has, in his disdain for Raila has put his politically decisive and overly conscious Luo community, at the bottom of his. In fact, questions have been asked why Ruto, who stands to inherit Raila’s constituency should he retire with Uhuru, has been the most virulent and condescending towards their leader than Uhuru.
Something else comes to mind here; will Uhuru and his populous community stand by Ruto to reciprocate his support in 2013 and 2017, and hand him the seat on a silver platter? The fact that many Kalenjin political leaders have discerned Uhuru’s new and suspect war on corruption (in that it is anchored on selective amnesia) to be the training of guns on Ruto speaks volumes on where this relationship could be headed. But as an insurance against any form of relegation, Ruto has declared himself a ‘hustler’ and is conscripting an army of ‘hustlers’ around himself. This also is seen as a ploy against the opponents from the ‘royalty’ families.
We also have to assume, which is fatally flawed, that the race as it is now, is between Ruto and Raila, ignoring the fact that a third and more powerful force could spring up in the final stretch. And it won’t be the usual suspects– Musalia Mudavadi, Kalonzo Musyoka, Peter Kenneth or Moses Wetang’ula.As we toy with this one let us remember that up till 2012 Uhuru and Ruto looked the most unlikely pair to rule Kenya but then they did and still do.
Finally, and which is related to the second issue raised here, let them all plan for 2022 hoping that God doesn’t have different ideas for them and their lives, or that fate will not weave a surprise for Kenyans.
For we have gone into the political gearing as if we have the remote control of our lives and those around us on the hand. We have even started acting as if we can control time and bring 2022 closer than it is on the calendar.
Mr Tanui is Deputy Editorial Director and Managing Editor, The Standard