Now that Ruto has the power, what's he going to do with it?

President William Ruto. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard] 

President William Ruto’s delivery of the bottom-up economy will most likely determine how successful his administration will be over the next five years.

Analysts argue that the bottom-up narrative became the most convincing theory that connected with millions of the holloi polloi to vote for Kenya Kwanza.

“The president cast himself as the defender of the proletariat and so the suffering masses identified with him fully and trusted that he was the right person who can change their lives,” says Prof Gitile Naituli of Multi-Media University.

And by so doing, he made Azimio candidate Raila Odinga who had joined President Uhuru Kenyatta look bad because he had identified himself with the status quo.

Another issue that will keep emerging is the so-called dynasty versus hustler narrative, which Ruto also effectively used to bag the presidency.

Again he kept reinforcing the idea of dynasties coming together to dominate the proletariat forever when Uhuru decided to abandon him in support of Raila.

“The hustler versus dynasty dichotomy had a big impact because Kenyans don’t like kingdoms. That may be how Uhuru separated himself from the Mt Kenya region,” says Naituli.

Wealth creation

The President has kept assuring his supporters that his administration will concentrate on creating wealth for many ordinary Kenyans struggling to make a living like the boda boda riders and mama mbogas.

And so when the Mt Kenya Foundation leadership  identified themselves with Raila and Uhuru, Ruto took full advantage to remind the “hustlers” that his opponents were only after protecting the rich.

“And so it was politically strategic for Ruto to paint them as forces that kept the country down and who Raila wanted to inherit in his administration,” says Naituli.

It has also been argued that Ruto knew the Jubilee Party had become very unpopular because the economic woes and other challenges that Kenyans were going through.

To make matters worse, voters, especially those in the Mt Kenya region and their leaders, accused Uhuru of abandoning them despite the fact that they had given him overwhelming support.

“After learning that Uhuru got detached from the people and that made Jubilee very unpopular, Ruto quickly decamped and formed his own party,” says lawyer Stanislus Murunga.

By so doing, he identified himself with the people and made it appear as if he was an outsider coming to solve the mess created by Jubilee which had already failed the country.

Political analyst Amukoa Anangwe argued that Ruto knows how to manipulate situations to his advantage especially when Uhuru sidelined him in the second term. 

He turned his misfortune into a campaign tool and blamed his competitor Raila for all the failures that the government was facing include including the high cost of living.

Long shot

“As long as the economy continued to be bad, a chance of anyone associating with Uhuru, winning was a very long shot, and Ruto knew he had to distance himself from those problems,” said Anangwe.

The president has assured Kenyans that they will enjoy their freedoms without fear of intimidation from the police and the so-called deep state operatives.

Analysts again point out that those are issues he harped on during the campaign period and used them to endear himself to the voters.

Another constituency that Kenyans will be watching is the church, especially the evangelical groups that have already found their way to State House.

This is another group that Ruto managed to win over time by attending prayers in many churches across the country and making hefty donations, and accused his opponent of threatening to shut down some small churches.

“There will be freedom of worship and anybody will be free to register a church if Kenya Kwanza wins,” Ruto assured worshipers in June.

And so going forward, the influence of the church cannot be ignored because the president has an incredibly powerful and influential church network across the country.

By making the last campaign issue-based, the president also created an impression of a man who understands local and geopolitics thus attracting critical thinking masses. This group will also be keenly following the president’s articulation of issues as was the case when he opened Parliament last week with a short, punchy and targeted speech. He did not shy away from throwing punches at the Uhuru Kenyatta administration.

“This only happens in Kenya… the sitting deputy president became the candidate of the opposition and the leader of opposition became the candidate of government….and the president became the leader of the opposition party.”

During the campaign period, the Azimio team attempted to make Ruto their platform, and repeatedly attacked his integrity but analysts now say that made people to believe that Azimio didn’t have an agenda for the country.

Ruto also kept adapting to situations depending on the behavior of his opponents, some analysts say. 

For example, he kept insisting that all candidates should join UDA and succeeded in creating a big party with representation across the country but admitted others upon realising that Azimio la Umoja – One Kenya was creating a large coalition.

State project

“It is called agility in politics by adapting to the new situation, and that is an advantage that Ruto had even during the campaign,” says Naituli.

By making Raila and his supporters to take a lot of time explaining to supporters that he was not a government project, was also another effective trick that Ruto applied.

That is because, despite their denials, Ruto somehow made it appear as if Raila was part of the problem.

His messaging was that the former Prime Minister and Uhuru were responsible for the challenges Kenyans were going through and other failures of that administration.

And when the handshake presented itself, it appeared as if it was a godsend, because Ruto repeatedly claimed that it was being used to illegally grab power together with its product, the BBI.

Raila and Uhuru for a long time denied that there was a link between the handshake and the presidency when there was one.

Prof Naituli argues that it could have made things easier for Raila to admit that the Bill was to create the sharing of power and his own succession plan than to take long denying that was the case, which gave Ruto more ammunition.

Decision making

His gift of the garb also gave him an advantage especially because he does not shy away from challenges and making decisions.

The man who one time told The Standard that he would have retired at the age of 55 years had he continued serving as an MP, became Deputy President at the age of 46.

The Kenya Kwanza leader has had a chequered career: “It was not easy to take on powerful people like late politicians Reuben Chesire and Mark Too among others in the region. The men had very close ties with the late president Daniel arap Moi,” says Prof Anangwe.

The new President has never lost an election and now all eyes will focus on how he delivers the many promises he made to his supporters now that he and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua have admitted the country is broke.

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