The support of Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Bill by 42 County Assemblies has placed it on the road to the referendum, and it is an embarrassing whitewash for its Tanga Tanga opponents.
The meetings at Karen Residence of DP Ruto have been heated affairs, with the agenda ranging from the strategic, like, “how didn’t we see it coming,” to the more mundane, like, “who really is with us in this?”
The way the Yes side swept the board presents a difficult proposition for Ruto. With just 16 months to an election that is a matter of life and death for him, it already portrays his real sphere of influence as starting and ending within his ethnic community. This image that is at variance with the one he has sought to create as the Hustler Clerk! But how did Ruto miscalculate so massively?
Sometimes one gets the impression that DP Ruto runs a really chaotic operation. One of the underlying issues with nascent populist movements is their desire to embrace anyone and everyone. The DP’s hustler movement has especially been adept at this, bringing on board anyone with problems in their mother parties, meaning that political deadwood easily finds a place of pride on the microphone next to him.
The net effect is that while the DP thinks he is welcoming people from across the width and breadth of the country, he acts as an asylum for bitter, angry politicians and people going through legal problems and dealing with ghosts.
In the process, Ruto’s supposed core message, if it exists, is lost in all this cacophony of noises. Before you finish listening to Aisha Jumwa and Mohamed Ali’s rants at the Coast over Governor Joho and their problems with him, they have moved Western to Didmus Barasa and Oscar Sudi’s own threats to someone or the other.
Scroll to the next channel and there is Alice Wahome and Ndindi Nyoro antagonising the President in Central. It is all uncoordinated, chaotic and too disjointed for a movement. Everyone appears to speak, everyone has their own agenda and there is no central theme and certainly no message discipline.
Indeed, it is difficult to tell today what happened to Ruto’s initial message immediately after the Bomas launch of the BBI – that “some of our issues have been addressed and we have no intention of opposing it.” Was it lost in the chaos created by the Tower of Babel where everyone speaks?
Surprisingly, the one place closer home where Tanga Tanga can look to for some lessons, is towards their nemesis ODM. Raila Odinga has kept his Handshake with the President alive only by keeping a tight leash on any contradiction and antagonistic statements from his side.
Political messaging goes with discipline, which Tanga Tanga badly lacks. Perhaps the biggest blunder Ruto and his supporters committed was to underestimate the power of the State and its instruments. Most governments in the world will usually hit the Opposition with a smaller rungu than they will do rebels and saboteurs from within.
Unfortunately for them, the President remains the Commander-in-Chief until the day he passes on the ceremonial sword to his successor. As with this county assemblies blitz, he will still deploy State power to defeat them at the referendum, and woe unto them, if they head into the 2022 elections still antagonizing him.
If Ruto is looking for signs of how things will be from this point on, he can start by keenly keeping an eye on Tanga Tanga legislators from the Mt. Kenya region. These people will take a glance at the calendar and remember that their own re-elections are now on the cards, while Uhuru holds all the aces.
Ultimately, the shock for Tanga Tanga, and their biggest reality moment, is the realisation that this is not the Uhuru they thought they signed with. The unspoken word early in the life of this regime was that Uhuru would remain a mere figurehead while Ruto would be the real power man running the show and the Government.
They never factored in the shrewd and calculating Uhuru, who, with this BBI move, has completed the isolation of his deputy and painted him as one with support only in his ethnic community. Like Icarus, son of Daedalus in Greek mythology, he probably flew too close to the sun, believing in his own illusion of invincibility as the wings of wax are giving way. The fall is imminent!