How William Ruto should handle Museveni and Kagame

President William Ruto and his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni at Kololo Ceremonial Grounds during the 60th Independence Day Celebrations. [PCS]

It is January 16th 2001, around 2pm at the Palais de Marbre in Kinshasa. Laurent-Désiré Kabila has just had a meeting with his economic advisor, then a knock on the door. His bodyguard walks in.

He bends over and the President assuming the bodyguard wanted to whisper something to him, leans forward. And right there, the bodyguard draws a revolver and at close range shoots Kabila four times. He slumps back on his beige armchair choking on his own blood.

A few moments later the third President of the Democratic Republic of Congo was dead. Kabila’s tragic ending wasn’t just blamed on the “Kadogo bodyguards” that assassinated him, but on Kabila’s betrayal of President Yoweri Museveni and President Paul Kagame. Unbeknown to many Kabila was brought to power by President Museveni and Kagame. How you may ask?

Legend has it that in the late 80s, Museveni, Kagame and Kabila would once a week, have dinner at Museveni’s home in Kampala. And Kabila was always the designated chef. The three schemed that each of them would at some point lead.

And so in 1986, by way of a coup Museveni became Uganda’s President. Kagame then was Museveni’s chief of military intelligence. In 1994, Kagame’s Rwanda’s Patriotic Front (RPF) took charge of Rwanda. And in 1997, with the help of Museveni and Kagame, Kabila overthrew Mobutu Sese Seko.

But as soon as Kabila took over power, he ostracised Museveni and Kagame. Kabila adopted an anti-Tutsi campaign in Eastern DRC and attempted to replace Uganda and Rwanda’s militias in Eastern DRC with Angolan and Zimbabwean militaries. It was the ultimate betrayal. Something had to give.

To cut to the chase, Kabila lasted for only 4 years. Museveni and Kagame on the other hand, have been in power for 58 years. And both, are still present and relevant in DRC to date. Where I’m I going with this? General Muhoozi Kainerugaba’s recent twitter “madness” has some method to it. And if you thought his recent threats of “capturing Nairobi in two weeks” were rambles of a drunk, witless buffoon, think again. In my view, General Muhoozi’s threats were sanctioned by Museveni and Kagame. And his promotion to a full General validates my view. My hypothesis is that Museveni and Kagame are uncomfortable with President William Ruto. Not the person, but what he represents.

This is informed by two observations. One, Museveni and Kagame are aware that they’re the last two remaining political dynasties in East Africa. The Kenyatta dynasty is no longer active. And because dynasties are jealous institutions, they are effectively telling Ruto he hasn’t earned the stripes.

Put bluntly, Muhoozi’s “rambles” are contemptuous of Ruto’s social status. His tone suggests that they know he’s not pedigree. The underlying tone therein is “Ruto didn’t go to Yale or Sandhurst or Amherst or Eton. He didn’t study political science, military conquests or history.” It is loaded madharau.

Museveni and Kagame could be using this to assert themselves as the deans of East Africa. Two, Museveni and Kagame must be afraid of a class revolution. A Hustler Nation type of narrative replicating itself in their countries.

And this is because Dr Ruto got to power through class revolution. And the fact that ‘class’ for the first time in 60 years since independence has proved more potent than tribe, is a scary scenario for them.

Put differently, if Museveni and Kagame plan on installing their sons as heirs, Ruto’s hustler revolution has potential of permeating Kenya’s borders and disrupting their succession plans.

And therefore the question begs, if my hypothesis is correct, what should Ruto do about Museveni, Kagame and Muhoozi? In my view, Dr Ruto should not worry about their view about his class or seek to please them.

The writer is a research fellow and political risk consultant at The Consulting House. [email protected] Twitter :@kmaina

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