Over a dozen member of county assemblies from Kakamega and Vihiga who recently visited Deputy President William Ruto at his Karen home in Nairobi are facing sanctions from the Amani National Congress (ANC) as the 2022 presidential hopefuls accuse each other of employing dirty tricks to gain advantage over their opponents ahead of the poll.
ANC Secretary-General Barack Muluka has given the MCAs up to today (September 9) to show cause why they should not be expelled for advancing the ambitions of an opponent.
Party leader Musalia Mudavadi has trained his eyes on the presidency and his allies, keen to lock out rival parties from their perceived strongholds, view Mr Ruto’s tactics as “provocative and dirty”.
“It is Ruto’s way of destabilising other parties because you realise it was not just ANC MCAs who went there, there were some from ODM.
"The idea here is to destabilise his potential opponents, and MCAs are an easy prey when it comes to handouts. There is nothing ideological about it,” Mr Mudavadi’s spokesman Kibisu Kabatesi said.
But as a matter of strategy, Mr Ruto’s men maintain that their candidate is such an attractive brand that politicians from rival parties are falling over each other to get his attention.
“The DP is far ahead of the pack. Going by our own internal projections, he is commanding more than 40 percent support across the country, leaving the remaining percentage for more than 10 other aspirants to share. His chances of succeeding President Uhuru Kenyatta can only get better,” National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale, who is a close ally of the DP, said.
It would not be the first time he is employing this approach.
At the height of campaigns last year, Mr Ruto assured Jubilee followers that they were poised to win and taunted Nasa’s supporters on why they would imagine that the incumbents would lose to a ‘disorganised, rudderless and leaderless opposition’.
“In 2013, we faced a formidable team with half the government — a sitting prime minister and a sitting vice-president. We were battling against what they said were choices with consequences at the International Criminal Court. Right now we are free and in power, why would we lose,” Mr Mr Ruto said while on the campaign trail ahead of the last general election, sentiments apparently intended at creating an impression in the minds of Nasa supporters that their candidate Raila Odinga stood no chance.
Mr Duale also said they were aware of the underhand tactics the opponents were using to bring their leader down and as such they would not be caught unawares.
“You have seen them throwing dirt at the Deputy President, sponsoring opinion polls to show him as corrupt with a view to blunting his 2022 chances," he said.
He predicted that, going forward, there would be a groundswell of such schemes.
A recent Ipsos survey showed Mr Ruto as one of the most corrupt politicians. He dismissed the poll, terming it "the handy work of (political) detractors".
And while Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula, another presidential hopeful, maintains that it is Mr Odinga’s turn to support his bid in the coming polls since he did so last year and in 2013, the latter’s lieutenants say the calls amount to blackmail.
Siaya Senator James Orengo pointed out that Mr Odinga was yet to commit on whether he would be running for the presidency and as such, it was inappropriate for his colleague to put in such a demand.
“There is no political debt that is enforceable in Kenya and history is replete with examples. As it is, this can only be possible through goodwill from both sides but not name-calling,” he said.
Mr Wetang’ula, alongside Mr Mudavadi and Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, were co-principals with Mr Odinga in the Nasa coalition where the Orange party leader was the candidate and Mr Musyoka the running mate.
Mr Wetang’ula feels cheated - especially after his replacement with Mr Orengo as the Senate minority leader.
Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa, another Ruto man, was also at it recently.
Keen to instil doubt in Mr Mudavadi’s supporters, he told Mr Mudavadi at a public gathering to forget his quest for the presidency, arguing he could not mobilise campaign resources, or match the DP’s war chest.
"If my brother Mr Mudavadi cannot raise Sh200 billion for presidential campaigns in 2022, let him forget it," Mr Echesa said, drawing Mr Mudavadi’s fury.
Even the infighting at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has got everything to do with the next polls.
Each of the influential players is keen to plant user-friendly individuals.
On the ongoing push for unity of Luhya politicians, those opposed to it like MPs Caleb Amisi (Saboti), Godfrey Osotsi (Nominated) and Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala, and who are sympathetic to Mr Odinga, have poured cold water on it by dragging in Mr Rutos name, in effect throwing the whole process into a spin.
It may pass as ordinary political talk, but it is a well thought-out scheme.
The mere mention of Mr Ruto has bred suspicion with Mudavadi and Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa already coming out fighting.
“Ruto neither funded nor was involved in the planning or financing of the meeting. Are you suggesting that our leaders have no money to buy tea?” Mr Wamalwa said through an aide.
A united Luhya community at the ballot would no doubt be a super force to reckon with in the 2022 polls.
The same would also threaten other politicians keen to take advantage of their disunity for their own end.
Given they all want to use the region to achieve their presidential aspirations, Mr Ruto and Mr Odinga would be affected one way or the other by either of the outcome.
The DP has also been a victim of crafty manoeuvres by rivals.
Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, himself aspiring to succeed President Kenyatta, has seen to it that he does not meet his father Daniel Arap Moi to ‘receive blessings’.
The last time he tried to gain access to Mzee’s Kabarak home without the Senator’s approval, he was only ‘offered lunch’ but never got close to see the retired president who was in the same House they were.
Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi, one of the DP’s allied politicians said, “I want to tell Senator Gideon Moi that he is a let down to the Kalenjin community because how can he allow the opposition leader Raila Odinga to meet the retired President Daniel Moi at his Kabarak home and lock out his brother DP Ruto?”
Central Kenya politicians insist that in Mr Kenyatta’s succession, the least they can settle for is a running mate slot.
Almost appearing as blackmail, it appears to be a potent strategy that has presented Mr Ruto with untold dilemma since he had hoped he could have a freehand to scout for his deputy from other parts of the country but still keep that constituency having supported their son in the last two polls.
The politicians here know that they have the numbers and if they spoke with one voice, they would certainly have their way.
This has seen the likes of Senator Kithure Kindiki (Tharaka-Nithi), Governors Anne Waiguru (Kirinyaga) and Mwangi wa Iria (Murang'a) position themselves as possible deputies.