If they're feuding, Ruto and DP should borrow Uhuru's wisdom

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua. [PCS]

In The Art of War, Sun Tsu states, “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” Thus, if President William Ruto and his deputy decide to go separate ways, as speculated, both should secure a calculator and be ready to sum up their political liabilities.

The Political Chessboard is not here to urge the President and his deputy to cease their political fights, if there are any. In any case, Nicollo Machiavelli, from whom we draw some political wisdom, said, "War cannot be avoided; it can only be postponed to the other’s advantage.”

We show in advance what will surely happen should Ruto-Gachagua choose the ‘violent’ approach to their political relationship before both mature in their political seedpods.

Let us use a Tom and Jerry cartoon episode because children’s literature is usually simple and straight-forward. In this particular episode, Tom, Jerry, and Spike sign a peace treaty, cease their street feats and fights and share their resources justly.

One time, as the three new friends walked down a street, a piece of meat fell off a moving meat truck. The three gladly took the raw meat, roasted it, and set it on a table ready to eat. Spike took a knife and drew the first division lines, where he allotted himself the biggest portion.

Disagreeing with Spike’s proposal, Tom picked the knife and divided the meat into three, but he also allotted himself an even bigger portion. Jerry decided to do his part and equally proved to be selfish. The tensions were rising!

After pull and push, a fight ensued among them, and the roasted meat was thrown into a water trench. Frustrated but still in conflict, the three pursued it but, unfortunately, it vanished. The furious Spike tore the peace treaty and declared war against Tom and Jerry.

So, the three resumed their age-long squabbles. If they had kept their truce, the end would have been peaceful, and the relationship would have endured. What can we learn from Tom, Jerry, and Spike’s episode?

When President Uhuru Kenyatta decided to politically elbow his deputy Ruto, the later kept the fights low tone, at first. This was important given that Uhuru, who was serving his second and final term, had little to lose politically apart from his legacy and peace of mind.

He was assured of peace of mind since he courted the opposition, which was more than willing to defend him to death. Of Robert Greene’s 48 laws of power, Uhuru applied Law 2, which advises leaders to never put too much trust in friends but to learn to use enemies.

Having outshone his master, thus breaking Law 1 of The 48 Laws of Power, Ruto needed to be extremely thick-skinned to bear the consequences of his choice. In any case, he wanted to be the fifth president. He had to go through humiliation and alienation from the government, even though he was an insider.

Although he wept both in private and public, he made a better calculation to wait until his boss entered their second term. President Uhuru also persevered and withheld the sword until he secured his final term. Both made sacrifices, and both benefited politically.

Had Uhuru let the pigeon off the bag in their first term, then Ruto would have decided to contest or support a different candidate in 2017. Uhuru would have been a one-term president. Ruto could have found it hard to king someone or to win had he contested.

That’s where Machiavelli’s wisdom of not avoiding war but postponing it for some vantage point comes in handy.

The same strategy that helped former President Uhuru to have a second chance and his deputy time to prepare is the same strategy that Ruto and his deputy need for their political survival.

Dr Ndonye is a senior lecturer at Department of Mass Communication, Kabarak University