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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 19 April 2015

UHURU'S PLAN B-2017 MINUS RUTO

Uhuru’s first real cabinet shuffle being worked on is to set off even more signals of a fundamental change in direction where the DP is concerned.
The timing of the sacking of secretary to the cabinet Francis Kimemia that coincided with the retirement of Chief of Defence Forces, Julius Karangi, is another key pointer to the fact that the president and his handlers are burning all the disposable bridges that he used to enter State House. Mutea Iringo is another face that has been axed.
There is nothing personal or ethnic in this ruthless Plan B strategy - Kimemia and Iringo are Mt Kenyan and attained their prominence during the Kibaki regime of 2002-2013. Ruto is from Rift Valley and delivered the Kalenjin vote bloc in March 2013 general elections, performing the political miracle of bringing the only two ethnic communities in Kenya that have ever produced presidents but who had before 2013 never voted together for a single candidate.
Kimemia and Iringo have been phased out and the future of Ruto is at the centre of discussion. The clearest indication yet is that Uhuru is putting paid to all the strategists who lifted him into his late father’s throne  as he came up with his first mini-shuffle in which he elevated Eugene Wamalwa, a westerner, to the cabinet and promoted Gordon Kihalangwa from Immigration to Interior principal secretary, also a westerner. Kihalangwa is a Maragoli like Musalia Mudavadi. Wamalwa is a Bukusu. The two are from the dominant Luhya subtribes. Initial reports say that Mudavadi was to be named as cabinet secretary in Charge of Devolution but he declined on the basis that it would be belittling his status having served as vice president during Moi regime  and then as deputy prime minister and minister of Local Government.
Uhuru is clearly reaching out to the next biggest vote bloc after the Mt Kenyans - the Luhya.
Word has it that Uhuru is proceeding with extreme caution before he can position himself to deliver the killer blow on Ruto. In elevating Kihalangwa to one of the most strategic national security dockets, Uhuru is doing several things at the same time - he is acknowledging Karangi, who influenced Kihalangwa’s deployment from retirement to Immigration, and he is acknowledging his former fellow Mudavadi. Kihalangwa is a good friend of Mudavadi.
Uhuru’s ultimate destination in Luhyaland remains Mudavadi, but the Luhyas’ greatest roadblock inside the Jubilee regime remains Ruto, who would go to any lengths to prevent a Kikuyu-Abaluhya political union.
The Luhya have helped the Kikuyu to clinch the presidency by voting overwhelmingly for the Mwai Kibaki-Kijana Wamalwa ticket at the 2002 race that drove Kanu out of office after a 39-year-long marathon, 24 of them under Daniel Moi.
Ruto is also under siege in his own Rift Valley backyard, with the retired President Moi and his favourite son Gideon, the Baringo senator, orchestrating and choreographing his downfall.
Of the many MoU’s of Kenyan politics, none is more solid or long lasting than the secret pact between the Kenyatta-Moi political dynasties.
Whichever ethnic vote bloc or combination of blocs delivers Uhuru’s second term in 2017 stands to reap rich rewards indeed as the 2022 presidential ticket, including the running mate.
The Luhya factor is sensitive in both Jubilee and opposition ahead of 2017. Gideon has lit a fire in Ruto’s backside in Rift Valley, in attempts to chip away at his power base. Days ago on a Sunday, Bomet governor Isaac Ruto and Senator Gideon met Narok senator Stephen Ntutu, Kericho governor Paul Chepkwony and Kanu secretary-general Nick Salat to form a second power base in the region.
In February, Ntutu led four MPs in a fierce demonstration against Narok governor Samuel Tunai, a key ally of the deputy president.
Analysts say a union of the five leaders poses an existential threat to the DP’s support. It is aimed straight at the heart of what remains of Ruto’s clout in the Jubilee coalition and clipping his political ambitions.
Governor Ruto has used his position as Council of Governors chairman to paint DP Ruto as anti-devolution. Gideon has chipped in to claims by Rift Valley maize farmers that the government has paid only lip-service to their concerns and to the Maasai community’s huge disappointment with a regime that has failed to come to their aid during the current drought. The Maasai say the DP could have alerted the president to the plight of the pastoral communities.
Ruto’s apparent helplessness and subsequent outpouring of anger and frustration from his Kalenjin section of the United Republican Party following the recent move by Uhuru  to push an anti-corruption purge in the Jubilee executive that saw the axe surprisingly fall on mainly strongest Ruto allies could be the last warning before the lie that is the Jubilee unity of TNA and URP bursts irreparably.
Highly placed sources  have revealed that Ruto’s belaboured assurance to his supporters that all is well and that he is in support of Uhuru’s actions in the anti-graft war that appear to have targetted his wing of the government more is mere public relations  and a coded message to his backyard that “they are on their own”.
According to the DP critics, the union between URP and Uhuru’s TNA was never meant to be of a partnership of equals who respect each other but that the URP were duped into an auction in which the deputy president knowingly bargained for and accepted to herd his community and friendly blocks like Somalis, pastoralists and the Miji Kenda of the Coastal region.
“Hakuna cha “power sharing” ama cha two principals kama vile walijaribu kuzungusha nayo Kibaki. Ruto alipatiwa pesa atuletee watu wake kupitia URP na akatosheka.  Hawana deni yake. Serikali ni yao,” charged a senior URP MP from Rift Valley who sought anonymity. Surprisingly, his sentiments have been variously echoed by senior URP officials and legislators.
In the anti-corruption purge unleashed by Uhuru,  top are Ruto allies in the cabinet and his most trusted aide  Marrianne Keittany who is his chief of staff were forced to step aside and hauled before detectives of the EACC. Others include cabinet secretaries Davies Chirchir of Energy, Kazungu Kambi of Labour and Felix Koskei of Agriculture. There were also several influential principal secretaries and parastatal heads drawn mainly from Kalenjinland.
Though at the same time the president sent officials from his TNA divide many in URP are wondering why he left out many on his side whose impropriety is known. They point out  at Anne Waiguru of Devolution, James Macharia of health, Jacob Kaimenyi of Education, PS Monica Juma of Interior, among others whose dockets are reeking with corruption, incompetence, abuse of office and ethnicity.
Sources say that the recent purge is to deflate the deputy president and his URP wing by painting him as one whose trusted allies and appointees are “graftsters”  and hence a political formation that Kenyans should not entrust with national leadership because they can bankrupt the country due to corruption.
This coming hot on the heels of the unilateral decision to fold URP and TNA and come up with the Jubilee Alliance Party without adequate consultations and in total disregard of loud protests from the Kamatusa wing of the URP goes a long way to confirm that Ruto’s honeymoon with his TNA suitors is over and he is being squeezed out gradually but surely. This is coming at a time when talk is widespread in TNA strongholds that most of the suspended Ruto allies in top positions were key players in a fundraising maneuver to secretly build him a huge financial war chest for use to abruptly vie for the presidency. It is not yet known whether this latest rumour could have caused disaffection and fear leading to the increased, rapid downscaling of the DP and his brigade.
Incidentally, the campaign to “cut down to size” and ultimately kick out Ruto is heightening concurrently with the abrupt resurrection of Kanu and quick registration of the Amani National Congress parties led by Gideon and Mudavadi. Clearly the hands of Kenya’s former first families led by retired Moi, Kibaki and former First lady Mama Ngina Kenyatta are at play behind the scenes.
Uhuru was elder Moi’s project and preferred successor in 2002 with Mudavadi the preferred vice president to protect vested interests while in 2012 Mudavadi was Kibaki’s project and preferred successor to be deputised by a person of Uhuru and Gideon’s choice.
Compounding things for Ruto is that the Moi family views him as the stumbling block in their political plan to retain control of the Kalenjin and Kamatusa in their hands and also his evident push to sideline Moilets in Kalenjin community and in their place prop up complete new faces that were mere spectators during the Nyayo years.
Could Ruto be suffering the  political curse of “the inevitable fate of the kingmaker” who must inevitably be crashed by the king after delivering the throne? In Kenya it has been perfected over the years by past holders of the presidency. Jomo Kenyatta cannibalised Jaramogi and Tom Mboya in the 1960s, Moi did the same to Charles Njonjo and Kibaki in the 1980s while Kibaki messed up Raila Odinga and Kalonzo in the last decade.
This scenario that reeks of multiple betrayal is the course of confusion in URP where governors Isaac Ruto, Paul Chepkwony and MPs Alfred Keter and Zackayo Cheruiyot want to ship out altogether unless the current scenario is addressed while arch loyalists like Senator Kipchumba Murkomen and the self proclaimed Ruto successor Senator Charles Keter have slowed down and appear less active.
Interestingly, both Senators Murkomen and Keter were key players in an amorphous but powerful cartel of Jubilee legislators that also included senate majority leader  Kindiki Kithure blamed for all manner of abuse of power including coercing parastatal heads and principal secretaries to give hefty donations and lucrative tenders to their cronies.