Deputy President William Ruto’s allies have started massive, stealth campaigns for his 2022 presidential bid, taking advantage of the fissures in the Opposition and the perceived shifting of the ground following the truce between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga.
And from the South Rift to Western regions, they are trying to make inroads, taking advantage of those disgruntled by the handshake between the two leaders last month.
In Western, where Mr Odinga has enjoyed massive support since 2007, Mr Ruto’s local pushers campaigned for him during the Easter holidays, presenting him as a determined leader.
Cabinet Secretaries Eugene Wamalwa (Devolution) and Rashid Echesa (Sports) staged campaigns in Mumias on Sunday to win support for Mr Ruto’s 2022 State House bid.
They were accompanied Majority Whip Benjamin Washiali for a function at Shitoto ACK in Mumias East constituency where they asked Nasa co-principals Moses Wetang’ula and Mr Musalia Mudavadi to look beyond Ford Kenya and ANC parties for the sake of the community’s development.
“He is a seasoned, charismatic and intelligent politician who never throws his fists in the air,” Mr Wamalwa said.
Mr Echesa argued that the Luhyia community lacks a strong candidate to marshal the State House campaigns against seasoned politicians like Mr Ruto.
“Let’s stand with our brother Ruto and strategise to take over from him,” Mr Echesa said.
Mr Odinga’s allies in the opposition; Mr Mudavadi and Mr Wetang’ula, publicly voiced disapproval of the handshake arguing they had not been consulted.
And while Mr Ruto publicly supported the gesture for dialogue, the behaviour of his foot soldiers indicates his eyes are on 2022 presidency.
Under the Jubilee Party deal, he is supposed to inherit President Uhuru Kenyatta’s mantle. But Kenyan politics is often full of betrayal.
On Wednesday, South Rift leaders described Mr Ruto’s 2022 presidential bid as unstoppable, removing doubts on the confusion the handshake created.
Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony, Senator Aaron Cheruiyot, Bomet Woman Representative Joyce Korir and Bomet Central MP Ronald Tonui assured the DP that Rift Valley is behind him.
“There is no doubt that the DP will be the next Head of State,” Prof Chepkwony said at Kiboibey, Ainamoi Sub-County, during the burial of DP Ruto’s relative, Rachel Kitur, who is also the mother of National Transport and Safety Authority Director Job Chirchir.
DP Ruto’s wife Rachel, who also paid her last respect to Ms Kitur and delivered a message of condolence from the DP, eulogised the late as good hearted and caring.
She avoided politics though.
The governor assured Mrs Ruto that the people of Kericho will fully support the DP in the presidential race in the next polls.
Senator Cheruiyot said the road for 2022 will be made smoother by better delivery on promises to the electorate, which he said is on course.
“What we are asking ourselves now is what can we do to change the lives of the voters? And when we get to 2022, we will have a platform,” Mr Cheruiyot said.
Speaking at a separate event in Bomet, Mrs Korir said the Kalenjin community has only one Kingpin, DP Ruto.
“We are set for 2022. We are telling Mr Ruto not to bother about the Rift Valley. We will steer things here as you fight at the national level,” said Mrs Korir
Despite the early campaigns, political analyst, Prof Herman Manyora, argues that in politics, “a day is a very long time and to this extent, we cannot rule out many formations, alliances, shifts, divorces and reunions on matters politics.”
Prof Manyora opines that the political situation in 2022 will “entirely depend on what Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga have in mind”.
“Ruto can move around the whole country, meet MPs from Western, Coast and even Mount Kenya but if the two leaders Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga have something else in mind, he will go nowhere,” Prof Manyora told the Nation in an interview on Monday.
Political scientist Edward Kisiangani told the Nation that given the “crisis in Nasa, the DP probably can use it to make an entry into Western region”.