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DP Ruto’s next move after Uhuru bid to unite rivals

POLITICS
By Jacob Ng’etich | August 13th 2021

 

Deputy President William Ruto chats with elders during the grass root leaders' opinion shapers meeting in Isiolo County on August 12, 2021. [DPPS]

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s failed first attempt to rally opposition leaders behind one of them has elicited cautious excitement in Deputy President William Ruto’s political camp.

While some think it is a cause for celebration, others argue it is a call to go back to the drawing board.

In public and talk shows, many exuded confidence over a divided opposition whose members are digging in, despite fervent entreaties for unity.

In the background, however, the inner sanctum is a worried lot.

The State House Mombasa meeting attended by ODM leader Raila Odinga and One Kenya Alliance (OKA) principals, Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Musalia Mudavadi (ANC), Baringo Senator Gideon Moi (Kanu) and Moses Wetang’ula (Ford Kenya) was just the beginning of what may culminate in a united front against their man. 

But aware that he may have a herculean task of beating a united opposition, Ruto is not waiting for them to agree.

He is engaging regional caucuses and carrying out grassroots mobilisation for United Democratic Alliance (UDA).

He is also warming up to fringe parties to win support across the country, while strategising how to reap from economic dissatisfaction, public debt, stalled projects and Covid-19 pandemic management.

The deputy president has been meeting leaders, strategists and representatives of various interest groups and businessmen who will play a central role in driving his presidential aspirations in smaller settings. Some of the meetings are being held in the counties while a few more are held at his official residence in Karen, Nairobi.

Further, Ruto plans to stretch out his public disagreement with the president by playing the victim card till the last minute. In the last two weeks, he has repeated his claims that he was pushed out of the Government, that he cannot be held to account for Jubilee performance for the last four years.

DP Ruto with MPs Mwambu Mabonga (Bumula), Kimani Ngunjiri (Bahati) and Hillary Kosgei (Kipkelion) [DPPS]

From September the DP’s think tank plans countrywide meet-the-people tours to solidify his support base across the country. By October, November, the team hopes the country would have embraced the full electioneering mode enough to afford his silent allies boldness to come out strongly against President Kenyatta.

Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro, a key ally yesterday told The Standard that they will embark on aggressive grassroots mobilisation in September.

“We will go out and talk to the people from next month. Before the Covid-19 restrictions, we had planned a tour of Nyanza but at a convenient time when we will meet the people and market out the bottom-up economic model,” said Mr Nyoro. 

The DP on Monday told Ukambani leaders at his Karen residence that in the next three months the ground will shift and those in government would no longer be able to intimidate him and his allies. 

Over the weekend he met representatives from Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay, Migori, Kisii and Nyamira counties in Naivasha to listen to their views on economic recovery and also unveil his plans for the region.

The DP is expected to host leaders from Western, Coast, North Eastern and Rift Valley in September ahead of a national conference in December where insiders say he will roll out his political and economic blue print.

It is understood that these regional teams will later form a formidable unit that will solidify the bottom-up, middle-out economic model that will anchor Ruto’s manifesto.

He has already received development proposals from Mt Kenya, Coast and Nyanza regions. Ruto has engaged a think-tank led by former Central Bank of Kenya Governor Njuguna Ndung’u, Prof David Ndii, former Cabinet Secretary Davis Chirchir and former Raila ally Prof Larry Gumbe to work on his economic blueprint.

Others in the team include Prof Edward Kisiangani, Augustine Choge, Prof Raphael Munavu, Eliud Owalo Mugambi Murithi, Dr Crispin Bokea and Dr Samson Machuka among others. UDA chairman Johnstone Muthama said they have already registered about four million members and they are activating regional parties that will eventually form an alliance. 

“We have a target of registering eight million party members before the end of this year, this will make our party the biggest in the country and ensure we win the presidency and majority seats at all elective positions,” said Mr Muthama.

Determined to succeed his boss in 2022 and using a strategy of ‘mop up every one and scatter none’ to catapult him to the State House, the DP has already identified seven small parties that he is working with to consolidate his support.

Parties associated with the DP include former Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri’s The Service Party, Chama Cha Kazi and former Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto’s Chama Cha Mashinani and People’s Empowerment Party.

Yesterday, Kiunjuri said that they had begun to consolidate the parties in Mt Kenya to speak in one voice before they declare their support.

“We want to first come together and unite all the party leaders from the region then we will agree on who we will support after that,” said the former CS after a meeting with Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria and Narc party leader Martha Karua.

Others parties in the DP’s camp are Muungano Party associated with Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana, PDP and New Democrats Party.

Ugenya MP David Ochieng’s Movement for Democracy and Growth party has also been associated with the DP and during the by-election in his constituency,  most of the ODM MPs said those voting for the legislator would be doing Ruto’s bidding.

In the Coast party, attempts to have Kadu Asili be the regional party to enter into an alliance with DP are still in the pipeline.

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