Deputy President William Ruto has taken his State House battle to the doorsteps of regional political kingpins as he seeks to make inroads in his rivals’ bastions.
Dr Ruto has launched a multi-pronged campaign to capture the strongholds of Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi and his Ford-Kenya counterpart Moses Wetang’ula in Western, Wiper Democratic Movement leader Kalonzo Musyoka in Ukambani, Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho at the Coast, even as he battles a resurgent Gideon Moi-led Kanu in the Rift Valley.
Keen to expand his support base, Dr Ruto, backed by his allies, has gone full-blown to challenge Mr Musyoka and Mr Joho’s perceived influences in their regions, while asking Mr Mudavadi and Mr Wetang’ula to join his team, an offer he says will expire soon.
“For William Ruto, it seems he is saying that while he will be happy if the leaders join him in the end, he is not really worried about them. He seems to be sending the message to his supporters that he has all it takes to them head-on, and that they (the supporters) should focus on spreading his message that he is the best bet to fix ordinary people’s issues once he gets to power in 2022,” Kenyatta University lecturer, Prof Edward Kisiang’ani, told the Nation yesterday.
In Western, the DP has rubbished the support of Mr Mudavadi and Mr Wetang’ula, bragging about his campaign strategy of fundraising for various groups, which he said his two rivals in Western could not match.
“When I was organising myself politically with President Kenyatta, some people dismissed me and what we were trying to do. Now, the MPs that support me are about 150. The ones that support Musalia Mudavadi are 10. Those that back Wetang’ula are 12. Now, how do you even see how these people will compete with me? Really?” the DP said in Bungoma two weeks ago, questioning the Western leaders’ political strategy.
“Politics is about organising people. And the seat being sought is not in Bungoma. It is the whole country.”
The DP’s visits to Western, his many fundraisers for women and youth groups as well as calls for leaders to line up behind him have irked Mr Mudavadi, who is seeking to clinch the Matungu by-election following the death of Justus Murunga, an ANC MP, with the former deputy prime minister warning the DP against what he said was bravado.
“Ruto is showing all the signs that give meaning to the adage that ‘pride comes before a fall’… His bravado hides a worried and panicking man. If Ruto is so sure of support from western people, it makes little sense for him to seek a forced marriage with Mudavadi and Wetang’ula,” Mr Mudavadi said in a statement by his spokesman Kibisu Kabatesi last week.
Daring his opponents
“Where we come from, our indisputable leader is Kalonzo. We have sent him to go to Kenyans and sit with them on the table, and we believe on August 9, 2022, Kalonzo Musyoka will be declared the fifth president of Kenya,” Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua said on Sunday in Kajiado.
The Wiper leader, who is looking to stamp his authority as the region’s kingpin in the Machakos Senate by-election, is so confident of his side’s win that he has already predicted Dr Ruto’s role as the official leader of opposition post-2022 under a BBI-amended Constitution.
“The official opposition with a shadow Cabinet funded by the Exchequer will also be a form of inclusivity. I foresee a situation where my friend William Ruto will be the leader of official opposition in 2022. He will be fully funded. That is my prediction. If he chooses to run, that is a very serious likelihood,” Mr Musyoka told Citizen TV on Friday.
And while he is seen as having the upper hand in the expansive, vote-rich Rift Valley, the DP has in recent days had to deal with Senator Moi, the last-born son of former president Daniel Moi, who has come out of the shadows, daring his opponents to a fight, holding public meetings one after the other, and unafraid to state his position, all thanks to the BBI.
The Baringo senator was last Saturday denied entry into Kapsisiywa area of Nandi County, where Kanu said he had been invited by Talai Elders to be coronetted as a Kalenjin spokesman.
“We view this as an act of cowardice by well-known political detractors whose main pre-occupation has always been desperate attempts to curtail the ever growing influence of other leaders in the region and to suppress the democratic space for their own selfish interest,” a statement signed by Senator Moi’s press secretary Joseph Towett said.
At the Coast, the DP, buoyant after the Msambweni Constituency by-election win, a mini-poll Mr Joho had described as a measure of his rising popularity against Dr Ruto, is seeking to stamp even more authority at the six-county region previously seen as behind ODM boss Raila Odinga.
“For the record, the over one-decade political dominance of ODM in Coast has been the most disastrous and catastrophic era for the region in independent Kenya,” 11 MPs allied to the DP at the Coast said on Monday.
“ODM sunk a region struggling to emerge from the yoke of marginalisation into the abyss of mediocrity, bad governance and poor leadership largely witnessed by the election of the types of Hassan Joho,” they said.