DP seems to be in same unpleasant position as Ruto after handshake

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua. [Mose Sammy, Standard

One of the most engaging topics for discussion in different settings, ranging from national ‘grandees’ in clubs and high places to 'tumundu' (people's) assemblies in rural areas, is the seeming friction between President William Ruto and Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua.

Attempts to deny its existence raise additional questions that are connected to specific utterances and actions that point to friction. In one public picture, for instance, Gachagua appears dejected as president and National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetangula have a good engagement.

The picture is similar to the one of Uhuru and Raila Odinga are excited at Kasarani while Ruto, the deputy president, seemed to be out of place. And during his Nyanza campaign tour, Ruto rejected Gachagua’s claim that Kenya belonged to two shareholders or that it was Gachagua who determines who gets what.

Although Gachagua is not the first vice/deputy president to differ with the president, he is in this predicament because he misunderstood Kenya’s political dynamics and power games. There were two men before him.

There was Jaramogi Oginga Odinga who differed with President Jomo Kenyatta on the direction for independent Kenya to take which had two outcomes. First was the 1965 Sessional Number 10 on “African Socialism and its Application to Planning in Kenya” that was capitalistic and not socialistic.

Second was the emergence of an Odinga-led Kenya Peoples Union as a counterforce to Kanu’s political dominance. Then there was Ruto, who in 2018 differed with Uhuru Kenyatta over the meaning of Uhuru’s “handshake” with Raila which appeared to threaten Ruto’s political future. Ruto reacted to the “handshake” by mounting an aggressive presidential campaign to counter Uhuru’s apparent support for Raila.

Gachagua finds himself in the same unpleasant position as Ruto after 2018. The difference between Gachagua and Ruto, however, is that Ruto knew kujipanga for the long haul. Kujipanga is apparently not in Gachagua’s thought process and he suffers because of it.

In the process, Gachagua has problems avoiding unnecessary blunders. He is hard-working, and articulate but has problems knowing the occasion. His ability to be dissonant may be due to his training as Moi’s Special DO, who could forcefully make people obey his command. He displays a lack of proportion mainly through unbecoming utterances for a person in the Cabinet, let alone a deputy president.

He forgets he is deputy president, and not president, and falls into the habit of claiming ownership of the presidency. His claim that Kenya has two shareholders, Ruto and himself, and repeated statements of “the president and I” imply that the presidency is a shared office. In Nyanza, Ruto  effectively disowned him by asserting that all citizens had equal roles in Kenya. To Gachagua’s chagrin, Ruto appears to embrace Raila in his campaign tour of Nyanza.

The DP is noisy in his ambition to be “king” of the Mountain and the noise is backfiring. He speaks when he should be quiet. Other than relishing 'beating' Uhuru who was down, Gachagua seemingly ignored advice and warnings that the horizon was not looking good for him. He instead exaggerated his importance, giving himself unknown mandates. He even alleged he influenced the election of several MPs who seem to disagree with the claim.

Desperate for acceptance, his promoters hatched clever arguments to appeal to collective emotions. People of the Mountain, they argue, have to accept Gachagua as leader because he alone holds the second highest office in government. They, however, had problems convincing sceptical people because the logic was flawed.

People wanted to see sense of occasion, proportionality, and quality vision in times of crisis. Instead, Gachagua’s performance is below expectations. He erodes his standing through silence in hard times; inexplicable taxes, seemingly skewed appointments, and growing insecurity in Lamu. Gachagua, having been outplayed in the game of power, is desperate. 

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