Few people, if any, would wish to be in Deputy President William Ruto’s shoes at the moment.
It is hard to envy a man who is watching things fall apart all around him just months after he appeared to fly high politically; or even worse, a suitor who is avoided like the plague by the girls he is pursuing relationships with.
Only recently, Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka was strongly linked to a possible political deal with Ruto ahead of 2022.
But the DP had to sit back and watch the unimaginable happen on Tuesday, June 17, as Wiper Party and former Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto’s Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM) signed a cooperation agreement with Jubilee Party and pledged to “fully” support President Uhuru Kenyatta’s agenda for the country.
I imagine it must have been tough for him to listen as Kalonzo unequivocally pledged to work with Uhuru in and out of Parliament and reminded all and sundry that his party fully supported the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
The sense of loss was apparent when Dennis Itumbi, one of Ruto’s henchmen, tried to deflate the fresh deal by reminding Kenyans that Kalonzo had vowed not to support former Prime Minister Raila Odinga politically again, and even claimed that the Jubilee coalition had settled on the Wiper leader as its presidential flag bearer. This was intended to fuel mistrust between Raila and Kalonzo’s support bases, but Itumbi knows all too well that even armies cannot stop an idea whose time has come.
ANC party leader Musalia Mudavadi dismissively referred to Kalonzo and Ruto as traitors for abandoning the opposition National Super Alliance (Nasa). But any keen observer could tell that Mudavadi was not bitter that the duo had rocked the Nasa boat, but rather because the new deal was a calculated blow not just to Ruto, but also to his own ambitions ahead of the 2022 elections.
The ANC leader has been widely linked to a political pact with the DP, who now has two less parties to partner with after this week’s developments. Coming hot on the heels of another cooperation agreement between Jubilee and Gideon Moi’s Kanu, the deal has further weakened the DP and complicated his equation, making it obvious that Mudavadi could be joining a losing side if he teamed up with the increasingly isolated DP.
The earlier working relationship between ODM and Jubilee triggered by the 2018 Handshake between Kenyatta and Raila had already made Parliament an unfavourable ground for Ruto to fight his political wars.
The situation could get gloomier for the DP if the current turbulence facing ANC and Ford Kenya is anything to go by.
Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula was recently temporarily toppled from his position in a party coup that saw Kanduyi MP Wafula Wamunyinyi crowned the new party leader.
The ‘coup’ plotters, among them Bungoma Governor Wycliffe Wangamati, publicly declared that they want to be in Government and are not ready to be left out of the important national conversation that is taking place. Such a candid declaration signalled that it is a matter of time before Ford Kenya also joins the ruling coalition.
Mudavadi is equally facing ouster from ANC amid reports that his term as party leader expired this week. The whirlwind revolutions brewing in the two parties leave Ruto with no formidable and stable party to work with. Pacts with the Farmers Party, Nuru Party and Sisi kwa Sisi among others will not win him the top job.
The DP is in a real catch-22, fast running out of time and options. With a return to the heart of the Jubilee fold now virtually impossible, it is getting increasingly likely that he could shelve his 2022 ambitions altogether and vie in subsequent elections when the conditions could be more favourable.