Raila, Ruto political clout a factor in 2022 succession


Deputy President William Ruto with ODM Party leader Raila Odinga during the burial of Mzee Abel Gongera, father to Kisii County Joash Maangi at the Tendere Secondary School grounds, Gucha, Kisii County on February 01, 2021. [DPPS]

Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga’s political clout is expected to shape the 2022 succession matrix.

With solid support in their home turfs, fanatical following and national presence, the DP and Raila are well-placed to be kings or kingmakers in the quest to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Aggressive, focused but subdued by the power play in Jubilee that has clipped his clout, Ruto’s charm is attracting leaders seeking to re-align themselves politically ahead of the 2022 General Election.

The DP has embarked on a charm offensive to woo governors even as the United Democratic Alliance party associated with him starts massive recruitment of members to consolidate support across the country.

Ruto is also making inroads in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s backyard of Mt Kenya region.

On the other hand, Raila has managed to keep his political star shining through surprise moves that have dumbfounded both friend and foe over the years.

Speculation over the possible coming together of the two arch rivals has caused ripples in the political landscape.

This came after a meeting between Ruto and ODM deputy party leader Wycliffe Oparanya in Masai Mara, Narok County, last week. However, the Kakamega governor said Raila was aware of his meeting with the DP.

Secret meetings

But Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua and Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok have called Oparanya out, saying he has previously held secret meetings with the DP.

Gachagua said the Kakamega governor is expected to bring a delegation from Western to meet the Ruto in due course.

He added that the DP has been talking to leaders across the country and prefers to reach out directly to the people.

“Ruto has been talking to Oparanya and they have held four meetings and in the next one, he is expected to come with the people from the county,” said Gachagua. “that is how he is reaching out to the people directly, this is the most effective way.”

On Tuesday, Raila met with President Kenyatta’s brother Muhoho Kenyatta and Baringo Senator Gideon Moi in what was said to be a courtesy call after he was taken ill last month but has since recovered.

But Tiaty MP William Kamket and Kanu Secretary General Nick Salat who are Gideon’s allies said the leaders met to discuss unity and succession politics, as well the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) process.

Sources told The Sunday Standard that Uhuru met Raila for six hours last Saturday. A highly placed source intimated that the meeting seeks to bring together the ODM leader with the One Kenya Alliance of ANC party leader Musalia Mudavadi, Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka, Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula and Kanu chair Gideon.

Speculation of Raila working with Ruto has however sent shock waves in Uhuru’s inner circle since he needs ODM MPs to push the government agenda after the DP won over close to 140 of Jubilee’s 206 lawmakers in Parliament.

ODM has 74 MPs in the National Assembly and 20 senators who have closed ranks with Jubilee since the March 9, 2018 Handshake between Raila and the President.

On Tuesday, Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen said many leaders, including Cabinet secretaries, have been seeking to see the DP. “If you saw the kind of people coming to see the DP every day, some during the day while others at night, you will be shocked. From MPs to governors and even Cabinet secretaries, everyone is seeking a piece of the future. I will not mention names but I can tell you they are many and varied,” Murkomen said.

John Mbadi, the National Assembly Minority Leader said it was only Raila and Ruto who are at the centre of the 2022 succession politics. “The rest of the politicians should align themselves with the two leaders to have political clout,” said Mbadi. But Raila and Ruto have disowned reports of talks to forge a 2022 political alliance. Murkomen said that the “hustler nation” has no plan of forming a coalition with Raila, unless the former premier was ready to sacrifice his bid in support of the DP.

“We have never had and are not planning to have a conversation towards forming a political alliance with ODM. Ruto is serving his final term as DP and anyone seeking to have talks should be ready for the available options,” he said.

Mbadi also maintained that ODM was not in talks with any politician for a possible pre-election coalition or alliance. “At the moment, there is no discussion between Raila and Ruto. The discussion that I know has happened between Raila Odinga and William Ruto is when he made a telephone call to Raila Odinga to ask him about his health,” said the ODM chair.

Mbadi however, said the party was open to joining hands with other political players in the run up to the next polls. 

At the same time, it emerged that Ruto had been meeting through caucuses with about 23 first and second-term governors in a bid to build political muscle.

But political analyst Prof Ngunyi Mutahi said the meetings Ruto was holding are not consequential until they put ink to paper on the political deals. “Conversations between Ruto and Oparanya and all the other people is showbiz and unless we see him sign a coalition agreement with a group of people to form a summit of equals, that is the only time you will say that what he is doing is sensible,” said Mutahi.