One of the Kenya’s most popular and vibrant politician Deputy president William Ruto have a date with history that is likely to determine his quest to be the country’s fifth president.
DP Ruto is currently the top seed for the presidential race and enjoy near fanatical support in his political bedrock of Rift Valley.
However, with the country’s historical past looming large in his quest for State House, he has over the time, overcome the hurdles, embrace the modern political rubrics and strategies to remain top contender among equals.
Ruto’s current political path can be likened to that of the first Vice President the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga.
Ruto is currently facing historical moment Odinga went through at the hands of the founding father of the nation the late Jomo Kenyatta and the party of independence Kanu.
Just as fate would have it, Ruto is the deputy to Jomo’s son, Uhuru Kenyatta, whom, he helped win the 2013 and 2017 presidential elections and they have since fallen out and chattered different political paths.
Ruto and his allies have been linked to UDA party whose symbol is wheel barrow while Uhuru has retained Jubilee just like Odinga formed KPU and left Kanu for Jomo.
Just like Odinga went through radical party constitutional changes and was subsequently forced to resign from the government and to seek fresh mandate from the electorates.
Former Vice President, after falling out with his former ally and boss, Kenyatta, formed the Kenya People’s Union (KPU) in 1966 with an eye on the top seat.
Ruto has witnessed a similar path but his office has been protected by the 2010 constitution that does not allow the president to fire his deputy.
Just like Odinga was thrown into political cold, Ruto is currently playing peripheral role in the government with Kanu party leader Gedion Moi emerging as the blue eyed boy of President Uhuru.
However, acknowledging his peripheral role in the government, the Deputy President has used this opportunity to craft a strategy and build a political infrastructure within and outside Kenya as he prepare to take over power in 2022 elections.
Reports indicate that Mr Ruto will be the chief guest in a ceremony to open a UDA party office in the US city of Seattle, Washington as part of efforts to reach out to diaspora and foreign governments.
Murangá senator Irungu Kangáta is said to have already travelled to US to have a meeting with Kenyans living there and identifying the liaison office to be put up in readiness for the launch on June 18.
“We expect him to address the huge number of Kenyans here virtually on Friday. Preparations are in top gear,” Mr Kangáta is quoted to have confirmed the meeting with plans to open offices in Boston, Massachusetts; Atlanta, Georgia and Dallas, Texas.
His allies say Dr Ruto is building the infrastructure that will scare his opponents and help him win decisively in the first round in 2022. The fear in his camp is that a small margin of victory in 2022 could present his opponents, with support of State bureaucrats, an opportunity to manipulate the election.
“We are now in the opposition and the DP has to think and operate like an opposition leader facing the State juggernaut. That is why he will not take any chances. We want to win in a decisive manner,” says Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei, an ally of Dr Ruto.
It is a view shared by others close to the DP that the only way he can win in 2022 is by raising his ground game and operation.
To popularise his bottom-up economic model, the DP has not only been seen holding economic forums with ordinary Kenyans, but has also involved church in most of his activities.
DP Ruto seemed to have learned long time ago that the religious sects and alternative churches are fertile vote hunting grounds.
In 2019, he hosted over 4,000 pastors from the African Divine Church at his Karen home. At the meeting, The African Divine Church of Kenya asked Ruto and other political leaders not to shy away from participating in the development of churches.
This came against the backdrop of criticism of Ruto’s donations to the church and a motion by ODM national chairman to regulate contributions to Harambee by the civil servants.
Earlier in May, he met Mt Kenya leaders for what was dubbed an economic negotiation forum. His engagement has seen top Kenya’s economist experts like David Ndii being roped in to popularise his bottom-up economic model.
He also took his cross-country engagements to Kilifi for the Coast Economic Regeneration Forum, which brought together all counties in Coast to outline the region’s economic plan with emphasis on tourism, maritime economy and land ownership challenges.
To strengthen grip at his backyard, his allies from the region convened a meeting to identify economic demands for the region which they would want accomplish when he succeeds President Kenyatta.
The lake region and Western Kenya are also said to be warming up to a similar forum with DP’s brother, Mr David Ruto, who close associates say is Ruto’s new “Mr Fixit in Nyanza region” leading plans to rope in more likeminded leaders like Migori Governor Okoth Obado and Governor Wycliffe Oparanya to help make inroads in Mr Odinga’s vote bases.
Analysts say that the DP has created an image of an ‘economic messiah’ with his bottom-up approach and portraying himself as the disciple of former President Mwai Kibaki that he is well-versed with the problems bedevilling each region of the country hence coming up with eight economic models covering those regions and coordinated by Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok.
There are also reports that allies of Dr Ruto have also been forming political parties ahead of 2022 to popularise the ‘hustler’ narrative.
Parties that have emerged that support the DP’s ‘hustler’ movement include the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) led by Omingo Magara, Chama cha Mashinani (CCM) led by Isaac Ruto, The Service Party (TSP) led by former Cabinet secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri and People’s Empowerment Party (PEP), which recently won the Juja by-election over a Jubilee candidate.
According to Mr Magara, talks are ongoing to ensure that the agenda of affiliate parties does not interfere with their 2022 presidential goal.
On the other hand, the DP has now surrounded himself with professionals and top technocrats who help fine-tune his strategies. They consist of well-known economists, political experts and veteran political leaders from around the country.
He has as his advisers and strategists Dr Ndii, former Central Bank Governor Prof Njuguna Ndung’u, Prof Larry Gumbe and management consultant and strategist Eliud Owalo who previously were with ODM leader Raila Odinga, Prof Edward Kisiangani, Dr Mugambi Mureithi, Prof Raphael Munavu, and communications expert Barrack Muluka.