Uhuru will not escape blame for omission if Azimio loses at polls

President Uhuru Kenyatta

President Uhuru Kenyatta with Deputy President William Ruto at State House in Nairobi on March 13, 2019.

Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

I can bet William Ruto sits back and chuckles about how he has comprehensively bested his boss, Uhuru Kenyatta, politically.

Yes, the hallowed Kenyatta name has been properly thwacked by Ruto the Great. Standing alone, he is facing a string of bigwigs like Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka, whom Uhuru is backing.

Ruto is holding his own very well against this combined assault. He single-handedly dismantled the once mighty Jubilee Party and ran away with the majority of its MPs to form UDA.

Jubilee has never recovered.

The Handshake made Uhuru unpopular in his Mt Kenya home region. It was a noble initiative, but he failed to sell it properly.

Ruto saw the lapse and seized his opportunity. In his greatest coup to date, he yanked that constituency from Uhuru and made it his own. The 'coup de grace' is if he defeats Uhuru's chosen candidate, Raila, in the August election.

Until a few years ago, there used to be the annual commemoration of Jomo Kenyatta's death, with the highlights being the laying of wreaths at Mzee's mausoleum followed by a church service.

I remember on one such occasion during the Mwai Kibaki presidency when the commemoration was held at St Andrew's Church in Nairobi.

When Uhuru rose to give the keynote speech, he alluded to what I thought was the dysfunction in the Kibaki administration and how ministers were pulling in different directions.

He mentioned his father, adding that any minister who didn't toe Jomo's line "angekuwa na shida kidogo”. (Uhuru surely meant that as an understatement).

DP’s naked rebellion

Listening to Uhuru's speech, who would have thought matters would get far worse when he took power? The dysfunction has been at another level, ignited by his deputy's naked rebellion. I don't know of any country where that would be allowed to happen, with no consequences.

Forget about the constitutional security of tenure of the Deputy President. I have yet to hear of a president who allows a deputy to openly fight his agenda using state resources and staff paid by the state, with the nerve centre of the insurrection being a mansion owned and financially maintained by the government.

I've also yet to hear of a president who tolerates antagonists to bring hordes of hecklers to the gates of his rural family home to shout and besmirch him in the name of campaigning.

Or a president who meekly looks by as opponents ferry their supporters to public functions where he is present and loudly show him the thumbs down while cheering his deputy.

It happened during Kibaki's funeral in Othaya on April 30. It had happened before in 2019 during another funeral in Murang'a of a popular Kikuyu musician, John DeMathew.

In contrast, the punches Uhuru threw during this year's Madaraka Day were coming too late to have any effect.

Uhuru likes to tell his adversaries that a lion should not be mistaken for a cat. However, what we continually see is the cat, not the lion.

All through his drawn-out political war with his deputy, and the humiliations and utter disrespect he has been subjected to along the way, there has been no sign of this lion. Oddly, Uhuru never seems to experience any loss of face, or to show it.

His Jubilee Party loses the Juja and Kiambaa seats in what used to be its stronghold and the President acts like nothing major has happened. That puzzles me. Instead of such setbacks prompting urgent remedial action, nothing happens.

Right now, Jubilee is the weak link in the Azimio coalition. Polls show many of its candidates trailing their UDA competitors in the Mt Kenya region.

In Nairobi, ODM and Wiper are holding on fast to their support bases. Jubilee is not. Barely two months to the August 9 General Election, Jubilee National Assembly candidates in the city are facing an uphill task against the competition.

On Madaraka Day, a friend of mine who is running for an elective position in Nyeri managed to manoeuvre her way to the presidential circle during the State House garden party to present a problem.

One of her competitors is in the Azimio coalition she is in and common sense dictates that he be induced to step down to avoid splitting the Azimio vote. In any case, polls are showing the competitor is behind.

My friend was assured that the matter would be sorted out and all would be well. She left feeling very hopeful. Sizing up the situation later with her, I was very sceptical what she was made to look forward to would happen. My scepticism is grounded on what I've seen over the years of this administration.

Sea change in governance

Whether it's Ruto or Raila who wins in August, we are going to witness a sea change in governance going forward. The two are ruthless political operators who will not play soft or give room to political foes to wreak havoc to their parties and administrations.

Ruto, in particular has been indefatigable in working to ensure candidates under his Kenya Kwanza Alliance don't compete for the same seats and cannibalise the collective vote. Even where this hasn't worked, it is not for want of trying.

Frankly, Raila's running mate Martha Karua has in the past opposed the give-and-take where small parties give way to bigger ones for the greater good.

After Madaraka Day, she travelled to Kirinyaga where she appeared with a trailer emblazoned in her Narc-Kenya party colours campaigning for Narc-Kenya candidates.

The crowds were not as big as when she initially went there as the Azimio candidate and was fully embraced by Jubilee and other affiliates. Karua has always been touchy when told to sacrifice Narc-Kenya candidates. Only that this time she's playing in a bigger Azimio team where any self-inflicted wounds will do great harm.


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