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Is the tide in Central turning against Ruto?

By Lydiah Nyawira | January 6th 2021 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Deputy President William Ruto during the thanksgiving ceremony of Msambweni MP Faisal Bader at Ukunda, Kwale County.

The measured furore created by Senate Majority Leader Irungu Kang’ata’s public letter to President Uhuru Kenyatta on the political events in Central could be making way for a major onslaught against Deputy President William Ruto’s prospects in the region.

Kang’ata, the author of the letter, has kept a low profile even as theories abound as to the motive or planning around the letter, which triggered currents of political soul searching among the two major political groupings in the country.

A majority whip in the Senate, Kang’ata sits in the heart of government. He has a fairly meaningful access to the president and has not attracted a major backlash from the movers and shakers of the Jubilee government.

Yesterday, State House-linked political scientist Mutahi Ngunyi added swell to the growing indication of a bigger plan through his unequivocal Tweet in which he said given Central will be out of power for a considerable period of time, difficult choices have to be made now.

Succession plan

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“Their future out of government must be decided in the next 365 days. And William Ruto is not the future,” he wrote.

The ‘tyranny of numbers’ theorist went on to castigate the circulation of presidency between Central and Rift Valley as a crime against the other regions, before letting the cat out of the bag:

“Choices; Raila or Matiang’i.”

Raila Odinga, the ODM leader and a principal architect of the BBI has consistently avoided the 2022 succession talk for the last three years, often insisting that they had agreed with President Kenyatta to keep off the discussion.

On Sunday, however, while addressing Muslim clerics in Mombasa, Raila said he had not abandoned the race while likening BBI to a process of sifting the grain from the chaff before heading straight to the mill.

“It is a tactical retreat before I advance. I have not surrendered; we are advancing and we are certain that we are going to succeed,” he said.

Fred Matiang’i, the Interior Cabinet Secretary, has been playing deaf to calls that he steps forward as joint political nominee of Raila and Uhuru.

Since 2013, his profile as a CS has been growing to the point of being elevated into a super CS, a prime minister of sorts, whose coordination role makes him the real face of government in every sphere.

Uhuru once told his Central backyard that his choice would surprise many.

On Monday, Ngunyi had tweeted that the DP had incited Central against Uhuru. Reading from the same script with Kang’ata, he said the rebellion in Central was “produced by Ruto systematically”.

Kang’ata in his letter had complained of cheap propaganda being used to lure Central away from the BBI yet they were the biggest beneficiaries.

“Either Ruto is cheating them or they are cheating Ruto,” Ngunyi claimed.

He also claimed the easiest way to cut off Ruto was to take away Central from his grip. “Our friend is walking on feet of clay. A mild afternoon shower in Gema will melt his feet of clay.”

Ngunyi and Kang’ata’s thoughts are said to be building a case for State’s increased focus on redeeming Central from the grip of the DP.

Yesterday, Machakos Governor and Maendeleo Chap Chap leader Alfred Mutua described Kang’ata as a courageous leader and his letter as “the best thing to happen to the BBI”. He said the whip had essentially issued a call to arms and action.

Political game

“Could this be a master political game initiated by Kenyatta to give him a good reason to rejig a few things? Well, it is a technique I have seen used effectively. Time will tell,” Mutua said.

Laikipia Woman Representative and a BBI proponent Cate Waruguru also sided with Kang’ata, describing his message as “genuine and valid”.

“The issues raised in that letter are of much concern and if not well addressed, what he (senator) said about BBI will come to light. The results of his research is a replica of all other nine counties,” she said.

She accused the governors of hiding the truth from the president, and hailed Kang’ata for “using his government position well and informing the president and the leader of our region what most of those around him cannot”.

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