Deputy President William Ruto has seemingly capitalised on the confusion among his potential competitors in the State House race to move ahead of them, political analysts suggest.
With no clear opponent one year to the General Election, DP Ruto seems to be campaigning against himself as his perceived main rival, ODM leader Raila Odinga, remains reluctant to formally declare his presidential candidature.
While there are other presidential hopefuls who have announced their candidatures, such as Mr Musalia Mudavadi, Mr Kalonzo Musyoka, Dr Alfred Mutua and Prof Kivutha Kibwana, the fact that they are still oscillating between individual runs and pursuing a coalition has slowed down their campaigns.
Today, One Kenya Alliance (OKA) leaders — Mudavadi, Kalonzo, Moses Wetang’ula and Gideon Moi — meet to be briefed on a report by a technical team they tasked with exploring the modalities of the alliance.
A source within OKA confirmed that the secretariat will brief the four leaders on a number of issues, including how to pick the presidential candidate in case the alliance is formalised.
The secretariat, the source said, is proposing that the four leaders should avoid a competitive nomination, citing the possibility of a fallout that will be difficult to resolve with time running out to the next elections.
The planned alliance faces both legal and political hurdles. Mr Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress, Mr Kalonzo’s Wiper and Mr Wetang’ula’s Ford-Kenya are part of the National Super Alliance (Nasa), which includes ODM.
Mr Moi’s Kanu has signed a post-election coalition pact with President Kenyatta’s Jubilee.
While the law states that a party cannot belong to two coalitions at the same time, none of the parties has moved to formally pull out from their current affiliations, pointing to indecision.
Talks with Jubilee
There is talk of reviving Nasa, on condition that Mr Odinga backs any of the other three leaders pursuant to the deal signed prior to the 2017 elections. Then there are those who want OKA expanded to include ODM, which has already opened talks with Jubilee.
However, there are also those who believe efforts to forge a broad-based coalition to face the DP, which President Kenyatta is said to be working hard to put together, will not bear fruit.
Wiper vice-chairperson Mutula Kilonzo Jnr lamented the confusion in Nasa with regard to the 2022 presidential candidate.
“In my view, UDA (United Democratic Alliance) is a rebranded Jubilee. The few left in Jubilee will soon go where their heart is. The confusion in the presidential race lies in Nasa. I see Raila, Kalonzo and Mudavadi on the ballot,” Senator Kilonzo told Nation.
Even within individual parties, picking a presidential candidate has run into headwinds, as is the case with ODM.
The party’s National Elections Board (NEB) called for aspirants to send in their applications. Governors Hassan Joho and Wycliffe Oparanya applied, only for the party to stop the process in April.
Yesterday, the party’s NEB chairperson, Ms Catherine Mumma, said in a text message it’s yet to decide its presidential candidate.
Although many of Mr Odinga’s lieutenants have maintained that he remains their best bet in 2022, the ODM leader has insisted he does not want to talk about 2022 just yet, citing the Building Bridges Initiative campaign to amend the Constitution.
However, from the beginning of this month, Mr Odinga has been releasing what appears to snippets of his manifesto under the title “What Raila believes in”, an indication that he will be on the ballot next year.
Those pushing for Mr Odinga’s bid say he has the political clout and financial muscle to give the DP a run for his money. But Mr Musyoka has declared he won’t play second fiddle to Mr Odinga again after 2013 and 2017.
Political analyst Javas Bigambo said it would be escapist for anyone to presume that the DP is running against himself.
“The DP is therefore taking advantage of the confusion in his pool of competitors, sure of his own candidature and making himself the candidate to beat.
“As such, he’s covering ground already. OKA has not taken off and it lacks clarity. That lack of clarity is of no advantage,” Mr Bigambo said.
While addressing meetings at the Coast where he has camped since the weekend, the DP said he is ready to meet any alliance in 2022.
Ready to face them
“We have no problem even if they form a big tribal party. The Hustler nation is ready to face them,” he said on Sunday.
On various occasions, the DP has called his rivals clueless and rudderless, citing their inability to agree on whom to back.
Speaking in Murang'a on Friday, he said Jubilee supporters didn’t elect President Kenyatta to make efforts to unite the warring Nasa leaders.
Although a day in politics is a long time, for now the DP appears to be reaping from the political tug-of-war among Nasa affiliates and Jubilee infighting .