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With his back against the wall, Ruto now needs a new game plan

Saturday May 23 2020

Deputy President William Ruto

Deputy President William Ruto. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

KWENDO OPANGA
By KWENDO OPANGA
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The sacking of senators Kipchumba Murkomen and Susan Kihika from House seats and the removal of Deputy Speaker Kindiki Kithure, all important point men of Deputy President William Ruto, sends an ominous message to a hamstrung DP.

You are isolated. Are you waiting for us to come for you? And that prompts the question, is this the end of the beginning of Dr Ruto’s first run for Kenya’s ultimate political diadem? Or is it just a pause? It is highly unlikely it is the latter.

However, my position remains clear: Dr Ruto must fight until he is the last man standing. Even as I confidently wrote that, I also warned about, and listed, the awesome and fearsome assets of political warfare assembled and arrayed against the DP. Among them was President Uhuru Kenyatta himself.

And I pointed out that there was a deliberate and determined scorched-earth war of attrition against the DP whose objective was to reduce him to a shell, eunuch and skunk before poll date 2022. I have called this killing the DP slowly politically and publicly.

How do you beat the President, especially when he has in his corner Kenya’s most impactful politician, Raila Odinga, and organised labour boss Francis Atwoli, and all wielding the big stick of constitutional and governance change chiefly to check your presidential ambition?

Ultimate survivor, the late Paul Ngei, the lion of Ukambani, would have advised: stay low like a reed in a storm; keep a watchful eye; keep your counsel, and keep friend and foe off balance with guile, guise and charm. Then re-emerge, plan in mind and hand, at an appropriate time.

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RUTO'S STRATEGY

But what was Dr Ruto’s strategy for ascending to the top job? One, start campaigning early and, using government machinery, stay well ahead of the competition.

Two, whatever happens, keep the Kikuyu and their Mt Kenya cousins in your orbit, and rear view mirror, any time and all the time. At the same time, keep the Coast and Luhya heartlands in your column.

Three, in these places ensure that the elected representatives, especially the MPs and governors, eat from the palm of your hand. They are the shock troops and point men.

They, like the boss, must be battle-ready early in order to be battle-hardened as poll date 2022 beckons.

Four, keep the faiths and faithful, and especially the shepherds, close with generous donations of money and materials to their causes. The way to the hearts of the faithful and congregations is through their shepherds and shrines.

Five, in places of high political consequence, and that means the twin Houses of Parliament, ensure that the shock troops win the decibel count as well as the physical count.

CONCEAL YOUR PLAN

Politics is about numbers and voices. In the decibel count, spare no one for everyone who takes us on, the President included, is fair game.

This is our maxim: if you hit us, we will hit you, and hit you again at rallies, online and news conferences.

Last, we shall maintain a high profile, visibility and intensity tour schedule and use the President’s legacy-bound Big Four agenda as camouflage to campaign. Our MP and governor allies will maintain this frenetic schedule.

So much for the claim Dr Ruto learned his politics at President Moi’s feet. Often despised when he was founding President Kenyatta’s Vice-President, Moi never showed his hand.

For a decade, he was regarded as inconsequential and bereft of ambition until old Jomo appeared to be on his last legs.

Dr Ruto has, in under two years, recklessly shown his hand. In many respects he has come across as driven by ambition as to defy his boss, and to be obsessed with presidential ambition as to attack without thinking about his vulnerabilities.

ACHILLES HEEL

A politician attacks a rival’s weakness, never his strength. Dr Ruto’s Achilles heel was his strong acquisitive drive, especially for land, sharp wheeler-dealer practices, and tendency to bend the rules.

A phony but weaponised war on corruption has taken the DP’s reputation from the pinnacle of actualisation at the presidency to the filth of the sewers of Ruai.

But why his recklessness? Running for the presidency and running Kenya are serious businesses. Given the motley crew of allies the DP has kept, he may not have had serious advice, which is a serious indictment of the man.

Will he stand by his three dethroned allies or will he politically distance from them? Whichever way he chooses, the die is cast.

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