Why The 2022 Kenyan Presidential election is certainly a political waterloo for Deputy President William Ruto

Why The 2022 Kenyan Presidential election is certainly a political waterloo for Deputy President William Ruto

By Egesa Ronald Leonard

William Ruto is a straight-talking charismatic crowd-puller that is the envy of many budding and uninspiring politicians. The current Deputy President-cum-opposition leader in Kenya is one of the two major ‘horses’ in the coming August 9, 2022 election.

As at the time of writing this article, Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has cleared only 4 aspirants to duly contest the August 9 election as Presidential candidates.

Apart from the front runners in former Prime Minister Raila Amolo Odinga and current Deputy President William Samoei Ruto, the other two candidates are largely incapable of mounting a serious Presidential campaign despite the social media blitz by one of them – Prof. George Wajackoyah of the Roots Party of Kenya.

That said, lately, there has been a heated exchange between key members of the outgoing Kenyatta administration and their estranged Deputy President regarding the contents of intelligence reports that the administration officials allege paint a clear picture of an inevitable Odinga win in the region of 60% of the Presidential vote – something that Ruto disputes albeit without tact or sophistication.

As a political strategist who views political battles through the lenses of the military, I have lost count of the strategic blunders by William Samoei Ruto. I view him as a man who invested his fortune in building his political skyscraper on the sand. Ruto’s biggest undoing is operating always in the pursuit of tactical victory [often at the expense of strategic victory].

His biggest gamble and the sacrilegious mistake was to bank on the Mt. Kenya voting bloc as the cornerstone of his Presidential bid. He did this by alienating and declaring war on political, financial and business royalty from the region. As a result, he is stumbling into the Aug 9, 2022 election without the goodwill of President Kenyatta [and his political superstructure and substructure] and also without the support and goodwill of the Mt. Kenya Foundation – who are the owners of capital and biggest employers in the region.

The certainty and boldness of the Kenyatta administration officials in undermining, dismissing and ignoring the Ruto Presidential bid points to one of two possibilities i.e. they are either naive or have the assurance that he will be defeated by 8 o’clock in the morning on polling day.

I am more inclined to believe that the latter is more probable than the former. If this is the case, then I will highlight a few possibilities that are likely to befall Ruto in the August polls.

File image of Deputy President William Ruto and Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua. |Courtesy| Twitter|
File image of Deputy President William Ruto and Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua. |Courtesy| Twitter|

Voter disenfranchisement: This is the oldest and best of tricks from the electioneering playbook and will be applied to perfection in Mt. Kenya. The political and economic royals from the Mountain do not need to spend a lot of money in deconstructing William Ruto’s gains in the mountain. They only need to buy off a chunk of the UDA flag bearers in the Parliamentary and county assembly races.

The bought-off contestants will pull out of the election and hand advantage to Jubilee or independent candidates while at the same time drive the UDA euphoria or [yellow fever as their opponents call it] to an unprecedented low. With this, the voter turnout in the mountain will shrink and turn the Ruto Presidential dream into a mirage.

Regardless of how much money Ruto has amassed for the final lap of the election, he cannot outdo the Mt. Kenya Foundation tycoons and stop them from pulling the disenfranchisement and suppression trick on him in their home turf.

Media blitz: With his ratings fast dwindling, William Ruto has turned to expressing his frustration by attacking the media which he considers to be promoting his political nemesis Raila Odinga. The media which is mostly owned and controlled by the Mt. Kenya Foundation has stepped up the anti-Ruto rhetoric and this is just the beginning.

With the exception of a strong Twitter presence, William Ruto is lagging behind Raila Odinga in terms of visibility in the media. Ruto can only blame himself. He had all the time and resources in the world to own and scale radio, television and online media channels prior to mounting a Presidential campaign unless he can convince us that his 2022 bid was an afterthought.

As the country heads into the final 50 days of the campaign, we are likely to see an increase in the airing of ads highlighting Ruto’s flip-flopping or contradictory utterances – targeting his credibility and electability.

Roadside and market side displays: Ruto’s behaviour of flip-flopping on issues was largely premised on the assumption that the average rural voter in Mt. Kenya is illiterate, not interested in English language TV programming and therefore does not watch English language TV news. Ruto assumed that these voters only watch and listen to GEMA local language stations.

Ruto’s opponents are likely going to take the videos of Ruto’s contradictions on various issues and play them on LED screens on Mobile advertising trucks or mounted in the towns and markets. We cannot underestimate the impact of this move on Ruto’s ratings and electability in Mt. Kenya. If it turns out to be effective -even if by 30% only, it presents two likely outcomes i.e. lowering voter turn-out or increasing the Raila-Karua support even if marginally or both.

Post Election Violence (PEV) fear-mongering: Given the large number of GEMA people living in the Rift Valley, William Ruto’s footsoldiers and sycophants have been selling fear to the GEMA population by alluding to the possible eruption of PEV if William Ruto is ‘betrayed’ by GEMA even after he ‘made’ their son Uhuru Kenyatta President as he claims.

This of course was started way too early that the Kenyatta administration has had all the time in the world to prepare the security apparatus for any such eventualities. Recent developments in the Rift Valley indicate that the security agencies are questioning various influential politicians in the Rift Valley such as Oscar Sudi and Jackson Mandago on an alleged mobilisation of militia in preparation for elections.

By effectively neutralising any PEV threats from the Ruto camp, a section of the GEMA population at home and in the diaspora that does not warm up to Ruto can comfortably choose to elect somebody else or stay home on polling day.

When he chose to concentrate on Mt. Kenya, it all seemed as if he had found the magic bullet that would deliver the Presidency to him, but it turns out, that he had made the task of his new enemies much easier. Once Ruto is dealt with in the mountain region, he will be finished and it will then dawn on him that he had all along been the AUTHOR of his own Political WATERLOO!

Egesa Ronald Leonard is an International Political Strategist with a particular focus on African Politics

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