Deputy President William Ruto’s camp has said it is pulling out all the stops to face Opposition leader Raila Odinga in the 2022 General Election.
Former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale – who is among the latest politicians to join Dr Ruto’s fold from the opposition camp – claimed last year’s March 9 handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila was part of a bigger political game plan by the “dynasties” to block Ruto from succeeding Uhuru.
The vocal and abrasive politician, popularly known as the bullfighter, alleged they were aware of a scheme by the “royal families” to front Raila against Ruto in the next election.
He framed the upcoming political battle as one between the hustler nation against the dynasties.
In an exclusive interview on KTN News’ Point Blank show last night, Khalwale cited remarks by Siaya Senator James Orengo and Raila’s elder brother Oburu Oginga that the former premier would give the top seat another stab as the strongest indication that Raila was being groomed to take over after Uhuru.
The former lawmaker, known for his antagonistic brand of politics, claimed that Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) Secretary General Francis Atwoli had already been tasked to “manage” Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi.
This, he claimed, was meant to ensure Raila remains the sole candidate for presidency from the royal families in the run-up to the General Election.
Consequently, he has dared Raila to prepare for a gruelling battle as Ruto was ready with his arsenal to defeat him at the poll. “I go by what James Orengo and Oburu said. They are the ones who traditionally let out the cat on Raila Odinga. The person I would advise Ruto to prepare for is Raila as his opponent,” he said.
He said the manner in which the handshake and Building Bridges Initiative was being pushed aggressively was also part of the political game plan.
He dismissed claims by former Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto that the DP’s camp lacsk regional kingpins to help him cobble a broad-based political alliance that can propel him to State House.
The Chama Cha Mashinani leader had in a previous interview described politicians backing Ruto’s bid as light weight first timers who cannot sway votes in Ruto’s favour and asked him to court regional kingpins like Mudavadi if he was keen on succeeding Uhuru.
“People are used to seeing strength in people they already know. But I can tell you that an idea whose time has come does not over-rely on who is driving it. If it boils down to a competition between the dynasties and the hustler nation, the hustler nation will not even need 11 players in their team,” charged Khwalwale.
He described Ruto as an astute politician who has demonstrated his commitment to “uplifting” the lives of the hoi polloi through his generous contributions in weekend harambees.
The remarks come barely a day after Raila taunted the Tangatanga team allied to Ruto, saying that the country’s political battle will be between a united and prosperous nation that is devoid of corruption against those who believe in the status quo made of ethnic divisions, theft and plunder of public resources.
Khalwale said they were ready for new political formation should Jubilee Party fold before the next poll while describing the National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition as a big mistake that ended up disastrously.
He stood by his decision to defect to Jubilee from Ford Kenya so as to be part of decision makers in Ruto’s quest for presidency, while dismissing his now former party leader Moses Wetang’ula and Mudavadi, as politicians with no capacity to marshal national support.
Khalwale, who was a harsh critic of Ruto while in NASA in the lead-up to the last election, defended his new-found admiration for the former Eldoret North MP.
The University of Nairobi-trained medical doctor declared that he had made up his mind to follow Ruto wherever he goes. He said the political epithets he used to throw Ruto’s way, including claiming he was the most corrupt State officer, was part of the opposition coalition vote-hunting tactics.
He said he had worked with Ruto before, recalling how Ruto alongside Uhuru backed him in the Ikolomani by-election in 2011.
Asked if he was backing Ruto because of his deep pockets, the bullfighter posed back questioning whether he was also paid to back Mudavadi in 2013 and Raila in 2017.
He said his support for Ruto was out of principle, citing previous overtures by Jubilee including a Cabinet secretary job that he rejected.
Khalwale claimed that after the August 8 election, an attempt was made to attract Luhya leaders to support Uhuru in the repeat election.
“I was approached and I declined. CS position was on the card and I declined based on principle. When Ruto approached me, I told him I will listen to the people and I finally made the pronouncement,” said Khalwale.
“The people saying that I have sold my soul must be missing me. Those making the claims are from Mudavadi and Raila’s camp, and I put it to them to ask their bosses what they paid me to support Mudavadi in 2013 and Raila in 2017,” he said.
He said politicians from Western backing Ruto were ready to deliver the region to the DP, and asked Wetang’ula and Mudavadi to join them if they don’t want to be embarrassed by the electorate. Mudavadi had at the weekend dismissed Khalwale and Governor Patrick Khaemba (Trans Nzoia) defection to Ruto’s camp as inconsequential.
“What should not be lost to Kenyans is that a young man like Benjamin Washiali commands a sizeable constituency. I also command a sizeable constituency beyond Kakamega County. If I were immaterial enough, he (Mudavadi) would have not taken the trouble to dismiss me. I want to tell Mudavadi that he comes from a community of seven million people and he cannot be the only option. We know he came from the Nyayo laboratory that created political test-tube babies. He is not a self-made leader like some of us.”
He said they were rolling out a campaign machinery that will see the region join Ruto en masse.