Kenyan politics is never short of intrigue, but there is no doubt that recent political developments are significant and that Dr. Ruto’s political career is under siege
He brought out the crown of ambition far too early and showed it to the enemy within.
Our people say that the worst enemy is the one within. The DP is probably waking up to this reality. If he is not, then his bar of wisdom is far lower than I have imagined it to be.
Ruto would do well to remember that there is only one President in Kenya. His name, Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta. Hence, he must increase and the DP must decrease.
Yet the DP has often elected to increase – sometimes almost at the expense of his boss. At public gatherings, he issues notices and sounds ultimatums of his own, ahead of inviting his boss to speak. You don’t do it that way. It is not done that way; you can’t do it that way.
Never before in Kenya’s independence history has a vice-president wielded more power than Ruto did during Jubilee Party’s first term in office from 2013 to 2017.
A constant presence by President Uhuru’s side during that period, Ruto had a free hand in running ministries and was deeply involved in drawing up government programmes and even supervising some.
Ruto breaks Robert Green’s first of 48 Laws of Power. You don’t outshine the boss. There is only one dance. And the dance is now. It belongs to the boss. To talk of a 2022 dance and embed it in the dance of the boss is to cuddle political disaster.
Those who worked for Mzee Jomo Kenyatta found this out in quick succession. You don’t outshine the boss. Jaramogi Oginga Odinga thought that he would define policy and ideology in Kenya’s first government. He ran into a political minefield. Joseph Murumbi, the second Vice President after Jaramogi, understood the script quite early. It was a script he was unwilling to play to. He feigned ill health and quit quite early in the day.
Daniel Arap Moi, too, understood everything even before he stepped into those shoes. He played his role with the consummate accomplishment of a master craftsman. He played the fool to the very end. The powerbroker caucuses of yesteryears would remark, “We underrated this man.”
“When he came to power, even some from his own Kalenjin backyard called him “a passing cloud.” Among them was a Cabinet Minister, Taita Arap Toweett. When Moi had sat properly in the saddle, he showed Toweett the door. And so this underrated passing cloud passed for 24 very dramatic years.
Of Moi’s Vice Presidents, Dr. Josephat Karanja was easily the most ostentatious. He was voluble, ornate and given to forgetting that there was only one centre of power. The power brokerage class organized a choir of parliamentary “shoutants” and smoke makers who shouted and smoked him out of office — all the way to the grave.
Before him, an unassuming Mwai Kibaki kept everyone guessing what could be on his mind. His words were mechanical and few. He would praise the big man, saying how he was farmer number one, philosopher number one, teacher number one and all good things number one. He would then invite him to speak. Yet, Moi still dropped him and appointed Karanja in his place.
Kibaki had often been mentioned as the leader of an informal caucus they called “KANU A” while Attorney General, and Later Constitutional Affairs Minister, Charles Njonjo, was said to lead “KANU B.” For their believed ambition to greater things, Moi cut them down to size.
Prof. George Saitoti, who replaced Karanja, was essentially a word spitting machine. He simply opened his mouth and the words gushed out, praising the master. Behind the scenes, he worked with the KANU Secretary General, Joseph Kamotho, to imagine himself in power.
This was especially so after reintroduction of multiparty democracy in 1991. Moi would tell Kenyans, in Saitoti’s presence, “Saitoti is my friend, yes. But he cannot lead Kenya. He is not presidential material.” And Saitoti clapped, together with all the other VVIP clowns in the pavilion.
It’s a tough and hard place to be – the deputy national CEO position. You have enemies everywhere. You do well to play your cards close to the chest. You keep your friends close and your enemies even closer. You don’t show them where you are going.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has also cautioned Deputy President William Ruto that he risks failing to clinch the top seat if his ambitions distract him from fulfilling his current mandate.
He insinuated that his number two was more interested in his presidential aspirations than in helping his boss achieve his Big Four agenda of ensuring food security, affordable housing, manufacturing, and affordable healthcare for all, to solidify his legacy.
Speaking in an interview with Nation Media Group (NMG) Editorial Director Mutuma Mathiu, the Head of State said that he would not allow anyone to derail the government’s agenda.
The failure of this test will be Dr. Ruto’s Achilles heel. More wonders certainly lie ahead.