President William Ruto has stepped up his countrywide whirlwind tours in a campaign-like mode designed to keep tabs with his support base and also make forays in the opposition backyards in preparations for 2027 re-election.
President Ruto is aggressively reaching out to the Azimio La Umoja One Kenya Coalition politicians, especially governors, in countrywide tours disguised as development tours.
“I am asking all leaders to unite and work with me. Elections are done every five years, let’s not make our people fight and create violence,” said President Ruto in Kisii.
Opposition officials told Nation.Africa the coalition plans to also start nationwide rallies to counter Dr Ruto, who they accused of riding on the development tours to disparage opposition leader Raila Odinga.
President Ruto’s trips to various parts of the country mirrors his tours when he served as deputy president, which gave him headstart for presidential campaigns.
As part of his early campaigns to succeed his then boss retired President Uhuru Kenyatta in the 2022 polls, President Ruto went round the country donating millions of shillings to churches and launching government projects as he endeared himself to the voters. Yesterday, President Ruto kicked off a five-day tour of Western Kenya — Mr Odinga’s bastion — where he is set to launch projects in Busia, Bungoma, Kakamega and Vihiga counties.
The tour of the region comes after another whistle-stop tour of Kisii, Nyamira on Friday and several others in his backyards of Mt Kenya and Rift Valley where he rode on the launch of various development projects to fight off his critics.
In a clear departure from his predecessor, Mr Kenyatta; the Head of State has been traversing the country with his itinerary mostly focused on the vote-rich Mt Kenya and Rift Valley.
Camouflaged as development tours and interdenominational prayer meetings, the Kenya Kwanza Alliance leader has nonetheless used such platforms to talk politics and encouraged more leaders to work with his government. But the President has in the trips dismissed claims that he was engaging in early campaigns. He said the campaigns were concluded and it was now time for his administration to deliver election pledges to Kenyans by launching various projects. His allies said the President has to double politics and development to a void scenario that befall Mr Kenyatta, who they said lost touch with his support base by keeping away.
But the President has in the trips dismissed claims that he was engaging in early campaigns. He said the campaigns were concluded and it was now time for his administration to deliver to the people by launching various projects. Some of his allies said the President has to double politics and development to a void scenario that befall Mr Kenyatta, who lost touch with his support base by keeping away.
But opposition politicians are not happy President Ruto’s strategy, accusing him of engaging in a premature 2027 re-election campaign.
“The President is just one year in office but he seems to be preoccupied by 2027 re-election. You cannot be doing politics for five years,” said ODM deputy party leader Wycliffe Oparanya.
National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi said empty political rhetorics by the President will not sway Kenyans. He said when the right time comes, the voters will judge Kenya Kwanza administration by delivered projects and not the number of times the President visited their areas. “We are not bothered by the forays because Kenyans are clear in their minds on what they expect from a government and when the right time comes their decision would not be influenced by the number of visits,” said Mr Wandayi.
Azimio Governors Simba Arati (Kisii), Abdulswamad Nassir (Mombasa), Dr Paul Otuoma (Busia) and Joseph Ole Lenku (Kajiado) and George Natembeya of Trans Nzoia have lately shown their public dalliance with President Ruto. While Mr Kenyatta adopted a hands-off kind of presidency where he rarely engaged with his support base, President Ruto has embraced the exact opposite to keep a firm grip on his support base.
Former Nyeri MP Ngunjiri Wambugu said Mr Kenyatta lost his Mt Kenya backyard by keeping off politics and only focusing on development.
“Uhuru lost control of politics because he was not available to play raw politics. I think Ruto has made it clear that he would mix both politics and development. He has learnt from Uhuru’s mistakes. For President Ruto, he does the work and then goes to the people to engage about the projects. In doing this you don’t lose the political aspect and you also remain in touch with the people,” he said.