William Ruto

Opposition leader Raila Odinga (left) and President William Ruto.

| Nation Media Group

Ruto-Raila deal: The plan to change the political landscape ahead of 2027

What you need to know:

  • The Senate Oversight Fund is likely to make the seat more competitive and lucrative
  • The creation of the offices of Prime Cabinet Secretary and Leader of the Official Opposition could significantly change the political landscape in the run-up to the next General Election

The deal by President William Ruto and Azimio la Umoja One Kenya leader Raila Odinga to create the offices of Prime Cabinet Secretary and Official Leader of Opposition as well as a fund for senators is promising to reconfigure the political landscape and make 2027 polls more competitive.

Political observers reckon that the additional positions will influence crafting of political alliances by having more regions come together in power-sharing deals.

Currently, most political pacts are for the presidential candidate and the running mate. The creation of the Office of the Prime Cabinet Secretary would mean additional regions in the sharing of the top three positions.

Reintroduction of Official Leader of Official Opposition would also address the winner-takes-all culture that has been blamed for post-election violence, especially when there is slim margin between the winner and the first runner-up.

The two positions are also promising to enhance the influence of Odinga and PCS Musalia Mudavadi in the 2027 matrix.

With a well-financed and facilitated office as well as a platform to address Parliament, Odinga would sustain his public appearance, which is critical in the event he wants to run for top office again.

At the same time, establishment of the Senate Oversight Fund is likely to make the seat more competitive and lucrative in the next polls.

No 'handshake' with Raila, President Ruto insists

Despite senators representing bigger geographical areas, constituency elections have remained more competitive because of the availability of National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) under control of MPs to implement development projects in their constituencies.

With the oversight fund, the Senate seat is likely to attract more politicians, including governors who have done their maximum two terms.

Interviews with politicians, including sitting senators revealed excitement around the proposed new fund with some of the senators saying how their oversight role has for years been frustrated by lack of funds.

With the fund, they said, the House would gain its relevance by holding governors to account based on documents prepared by research and audit teams at the disposal of the senators.

“It must be made clear that this fund is not a development kitty but an administrative tool to enable the Senate carry out its constitutional mandate,” said Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang’.

“It has been a misnomer to expect senators to utilise personal resources to carry out public duties. More still needs to be done to strengthen accountability in devolved governments. For example, I believe MCAs should also have a similar facilitation,” he added.

Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna told The Weekly Review that the fund would greatly enhance the capacity of senators to execute their mandate by having auditors assist them in looking at the county’s expenditures and books of account.

United Democratic Alliance (UDA) Secretary-General Cleophas Malala, who served as Kakamega Senator in the last Parliament, said the seat would once again become attractive.


President William Ruto chairs a Cabinet meeting at State Lodge, Kisumu on October 9, 2023

Photo credit: PCS

“I can tell you the seat would be competitive and lucrative moving forward. You will see more governors wanting to serve as senators because they would have facilitation to do their oversight mandate,” he said.

Pioneer senators were made up of veteran politicians, but most of them dumped the Senate to run for gubernatorial seats in the subsequent elections when they realised the seat was not as powerful as they had imagined in 2013.

Analysts argue that Mudavadi’s influence in government and in the political scene stands to shore up in the event he becomes the country’s third substantive Prime Cabinet Secretary.

 A similar position has previously been held by founding President Jomo Kenyatta and Raila Odinga under the grand coalition government, and they wielded immense power and influence.

The trappings of power that comes with the office has the potential to offer him a political springboard to solidify his Western support base.

A strong Mudavadi and an active Odinga would present a threat to Gachagua’s plans to succeed Dr Ruto after his two terms. Gachagua has come out as one of the fiercest critics of the talks. He has repeated how the talks are going nowhere.

 “Mudavadi has the Foreign Affairs ministry domiciled under his portfolio. This not only gives legitimacy to the position constitutionally by ascribing clear functions to it, but it also gives Mudavadi the space to build his political base among the international community while giving him global visibility as the president’s point man on foreign affairs in cooperation with the ministry of foreign affairs,” said Prof David Monda, a lecturer at City University of New York.

“It is challenging for Rigathi because it appears the president has created a second center of power outside the DP’s office to balance the influence of Mt. Kenya power brokers,” said Prof Monda.

Raila slams Ruto over ‘three options’ threat

He described the creation of the two offices as a grand political bargain between the ruling Kenya Kwanza and the opposition Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition as each side stands to benefit. He said it is, however, being done at the expense of the taxpayers’ money since there are already representatives in Parliament and at the counties.

But Jubilee Party Deputy Secretary-General Joshua Kutuny said the additional positions would reduce the perception of exclusion that he linked to tension and political chaos after every election.

“Element of two communities coming together to run the affairs of this country will come to an end. More regions would have to come together in forming a government,” said Kutuny.

“I can tell you that the 2027 elections would be competitive. Number two in the presidential election would also have an office. The Office of the Official Leader of Opposition would have a budget,” he said.

Ruto: I will be hard on Raila

The decision by the National Dialogue Committee to restructure and reconstitute the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) selection panel, however, means loss of taxpayers’ money. It means that the seven-member team led by Dr Nelson Makanda will have to vacate office and a new team put up to start the process fresh.

The selection panel that was appointed in February by President Ruto has been pocketing a total of Sh180,000 every sitting, according to Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) rates applicable to panels and task forces appointed by the President.

 According to the SRC rates, the chairperson is entitled to Sh30,000 as the six members get Sh25,000 each for every sitting, technical head paid Sh10,000, with a clerical officer and security getting Sh4,000. Other members of the panel are Bethuel Sugut, Novince Euralia Atieno, Charity S. Kisotu, Evans Misati James, Benson Ngugi Njeri and Fatuma Saman.