It takes an arrogant person to delete the year 2017 from election strategy

Saturday March 5 2016

Deputy President William Ruto addresses a rally at Karima grounds in Malindi on March 4, 2016. He led campaigns for Jubilee candidate Philip Charo ahead of March 7 by-election.  PHOTO | KAZUNGU SAMUEL | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Deputy President William Ruto addresses a rally at Karima grounds in Malindi on March 4, 2016. He led campaigns for Jubilee candidate Philip Charo ahead of March 7 by-election. PHOTO | KAZUNGU SAMUEL | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Nowadays, the arrogance of the political class knows no bounds. But also the cheap complicity of pseudo-intellectuals in massaging the ego of the political class overwhelms.

Sample this: the Deputy President goes to his backyard and pronounces loudly that his detractors in the region are undermining his 2022 presidential ambition. He urges people not listen to his detractors to avoid being diverted from this communal focus on the presidency.

Not only does the DP have sycophants in tow who vigorously node, someone who prides himself as a lawyer goes on Facebook to urge ‘the Kalenjin nation to rally behind’ the DP and ‘protect him from those that may want to destroy him or his power’ since ‘he is the pre-eminent and the only leader of the Kalenjin nation.’ Remember, this is a lawyer!

It takes an extremely arrogant politician to ignore the 2017 elections and focus on 2022. We know a day in politics is eternity; things change very fast and in unpredictable ways. Allies decamp and friends backstab you with impunity. For instance, if I had told the DP in 2012 that the kind of confusion and trouble he and others like Governor Isaac Ruto caused in ODM would replay itself again but this time it would be the Governor directing attacks within URP, the DP would have scoffed at my fertile imagination.

But it has come to be that rebels in URP are causing the DP sleepless nights and outbursts of anger. To respond to internal chaos by threatening and labelling others is cheap indeed. To do so while ignoring the 2017 electoral process is alarmingly reckless. Unless the DP knows something we do not know, the 2017 elections will be determined not by the whim of politicians but by voters at the ballot box.

The outcome must remain uncertain until the last vote is counted.


Alternatively, the DP knows something we do not know. Is it that the IEBC will not deliver a credible electoral process or some forces that only he knows will definitely bias the results in favour of a pre-determined winner?

These are highly likely scenarios and anyone who has observed Kenyan politics for long knows that incumbents always have tricks up their sleeves. This was played out with tragic consequences in 2007. Someone even chorused that it is bad manners for an incumbent, in that case Mwai Kibaki, to lose an election.

But the more worrying part is this: there is nothing in the scheme of things that guarantees that the DP will be the sole Jubilee presidential candidate in 2022.
So the lawyer can single handedly anoint the DP as pre-eminent, but this means nothing in the scheme of things. First, we cannot guarantee that Jubilee-aligned parties will look in 2022 like they do today.

If there is anything one can read into the history of political parties in Kenya, it is their constant malleability and their short life span including some that lasted less than an electoral cycle.

Second, the agreement that binds Uhuru Kenyatta to William Ruto in the current coalition arrangement will have little political traction towards and after the 2017 elections. Assuming that Kenyatta wins the forthcoming elections, nothing will force him to remain committed to Mr Ruto. The only tie that binds them is their friendship, and that means nothing politically.

Third, assuming that Uhuru Kenyatta remains a gentleman and prefers Ruto as his successor, that does not bind all other politicians from Kenyatta’s political base to Mr Ruto. Many people who today appear totally loyal to the President will ignore his preferences and support a candidate of their choice.

This situation is very likely; one only needs to see how Kanu loyalists decamped in droves to the opposition after President Moi anointed Uhuru Kenyatta his successor in 2002.

Godwin R. Murunga is a senior research fellow in the Institute for Development Studies, University of Nairobi