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The Rise of Ruto!

AS well narrated by Kipchumba Some of the Daily Nation, on a one sunny Sunday afternoon on January 5, 1992, five friends met at Nairobi’s Hotel Boulevard off Uhuru Highway for a drink that would greatly impact Kenya’s political history. All of them were in their mid-20s or early 30s. They were well-educated and two of them were scions of influential political figures in Kenya. They were Fred Kiptanui, Sammy Kogo, Victor Kebenei, Joe Mwangale and Joe Kimkung, a close confidante of President Moi’s son Gideon. Politics was the topic of that day.

For the two Joes, the political developments of repealing section 2A at the time had a direct impact on them since they were descendants of families with strong ties to the Kanu system and to Moi. Mwangale was a son of Elijah Mwangale, the Kimilili constituency MP, and Kimkung a brother-in-law of Daniel Moss, the MP of Mt Elgon constituency from 1963 to 1974.  Kogo was a successful businessman in his own right who had developed a close friendship with President Moi’s eldest son, Jonathan. While not a scion of a well-known political family in the country, Kebenei had made a name for himself as an operative in KANU circles.

As the five debated these developments, the two Joes shared with the rest an idea that they had developed while on a visit to the United Kingdom in December 1991, just before Christmas. They were lively chaps and had these wonderful ideas about what they were doing to mobilize political youth support for the Labour party,” said Kimkung. The two Kenyans were impressed by how the Labour youth planned to harness their numbers to help their party win back power after more than a decade in opposition. They strongly felt that Labour’s tactics and strategies could easily be applied back home to help Kanu ride the rising opposition wave. When they returned, they met their three friends, as well as lawyer and newspaper columnist Moses Kurgat.

Later, Cyrus Jirongo was brought on board by Kebenei and Kogo who were running their businesses from the offices of Jirongo’s company, Cypher Projects International at Development House. They chose him because he was first amongst them.  He was intelligent and flamboyant. Importantly, he had money and he was generous with it. Jirongo did not possess a grand name like his peers but he had earned their respect due to his business acumen that had made him a millionaire at a relatively young age. Despite his success, he did not enjoy direct connections to State House, something he craved, according to Kiptanui.

Former President Daniel Moi was an embattled and loathed man in the early ’90s. He was facing woes from all corners, from a crumbling economy to an increasingly emboldened electorate agitating for democracy. He tried for a long time to silence them all, but seeing that his efforts were amounting to futility, he bowed to pressure on December 3, 1991, and announced the repeal of section 2A of the constitution that had abolished multipartism. That was the beginning of even deeper woes for him. For the first time, President Moi faced competition for the top seat. Friends who had been hanging around him took advantage of the constitutional leeway and took off to other parties, leaving behind a man starved of politically experienced stalwarts. He was not the only one who was worried about the changing state of affairs though.

The Sons of politicians mentioned above, knowing that their future in the lucrative political atmosphere depended on Moi, and met at the Boulevard Hotel for a drink are credited to have crafted the idea of a young league to campaign for Moi-YK92. Having picked Jirongo as their leader,

William Ruto, straight out of Nairobi University, where he had graduated with a Bachelors’ Degree in Zoology and Botany, was nominated as the organizing secretary. With a group of hungry, and eager to please youth firm in his grip, Moi, who was reported to be holding his cards close to his chest, launched his second weapon.

On July 14, 1992, the then-Attorney General, Amos Wako, brought the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill to the House, seeking to remove the ceiling previously imposed on election expenditure by candidates. This YK ’92 thing became the main avenue through which the state party disbursed patronage resources to mobilize support for President Moi and KANU in general. This organisation disbanded immediately after the elections.

The second multiparty elections held in December 1997 saw the rise of another youth organisation, Jeshi la Mzee (the old man’s army or gang), rooted in the city lumpen. The organisation operated as a private army or terror gang for senior ethnic elite; it occasionally discharged violence against opposition politicians and the pro-constitutional change actors (the main one at the time was the National Conventional Executive Council). Other parties formed similar groups as “privatized forms of violence” and increasingly filled the political space at the urging of senior political elite who incorporated the youth to complete their ethno-political projects.

Deputy President William Ruto’s political career has tremendously grown since he joined the political scene through the famous Youth for KANU ’92 (YK’92) group. He has risen from just a youth leader to a Member of Parliament, Minister and is now the second most powerful politician in the country by the virtue of his office. However, the journey to the top hasn’t been smooth and he has faced several hurdles especially when he was in the Opposition during former President Mwai Kibaki’s administration.

Ruto and Uhuru as political buddies!

Trails of history reveal that Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto have been political allies for at least a decade. Both have been members of the same party, the Kenya African National Union (KANU), for more than a decade, the longest they have stayed in one political home.

Ruto had been a member of KANU since at least 1992, staying a member for 13 years or thereabouts before joining the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) somewhere in 2005 or 2006. Then this year he switched allegiances again to join the United Republican Party. Kenyatta has been a loyal supporter and then member of KANU for longer. In 1990 when the party, which was the country’s only political party, sought ordinary citizens’ views on the country’s political future Kenyatta joined a group of sons of prominent deceased and living leaders to present a memorandum on the issue. This was his first public political act. He later became active in the party in the late 1990s and only left it this year to form The National Alliance party.

Both men made their first attempt at elective politics in 1997, while still members of KANU, which by then had lost significant public support and had governed the country for 34 years. Ruto won on his first attempt to be elected the representative of Eldoret North constituency at the National Assembly. He emerged victorious, despite then President Daniel arap Moi initially backing another candidate who had represented the constituency for several terms before 1997. Ruto has been re-elected since and still represents Eldoret North in the National Assembly. Kenyatta, for his part, failed in his first attempt at parliamentary politics in 1997. His failure was big news because his father, who was Kenya’s first president, had represented the constituency he sought to represent. Other members of the larger Kenyatta family had represented the constituency up until 1997.

Between 1997 and the lead up of the 2002 election, Kenyatta and Ruto may have collaborated because they ended up in the Cabinet together, but their relationship at that point was not as close as it is today. Once Kenyatta, however, became the KANU presidential candidate, he and Ruto began working more closely. Their alliance became closer in 2003 as Kenyatta took over the chairmanship of KANU from Moi, who had retired from active politics, and Ruto became the party’s secretary-general.

Once the ICC prosecutor named them as suspects in December 2010, Kenyatta and Ruto have sought to frame their fate as an international conspiracy to stop them running for president. This stems in part from the fact that in 2007 Kenyatta declared that as KANU leader he was setting aside his presidential ambitions in support of President Mwai Kibaki’s re-election bid. This implied he would run in the next scheduled election. Similarly, Ruto contested and lost the nomination as presidential candidate for the Orange Democratic Movement party, which Prime Minister Raila Odinga secured in 2007. Since that time, Ruto was expected to declare again his intention to run for the presidency when the next election drew close.

In the lead-up to their April 2011 initial appearance at the ICC, the two held what became known as prayer rallies around the country during which different religious leaders prayed for them. However, the rallies were more than just occasions for prayer. Kenyatta and Ruto together with their allies used the rallies to challenge the ICC cases. On return, they toned down their rhetoric but continued to work together.

When the ICC confirmed the charges against them in January this year, they both followed the same strategy. They went to their respective ethnic groups’ elites to seek their endorsement as presidential aspirants and also got them to commit to a signature campaign to pressure the ICC to schedule the trials after the elections. When in July the court scheduled the trial to a month after Kenya’s election, that subject was dropped and Kenyatta and Ruto concentrated on consolidating the support of their ethnic groups and building their new parties, culminating in a political alliance that was formally announced in Nakuru on December 2. That alliance has entered some turbulence since, but it seems Kenyatta and Ruto will be sticking together and presenting a joint ticket come voting day, March 4.

Coalition driven Political Atmosphere in Kenya amid betrayals!

Kenya’s 2002 elections were politically momentous. The new government, made up of coalition forces, has not only paved the way for a new political dispensation that analysts anticipate will set off Kenya’s much needed economic and political reconstruction (Barkan 2003), but most importantly it provides some important lessons for the study of coalition formations in politics. For one, it demonstrated to opposition parties elsewhere in Africa what can be achieved by standing together. The formation of the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) was not a new phenomenon in Kenyan politics.

A look at the country’s political history reveals a pattern of political coalitions over the years, made up not only of selected individuals co-opted by then President Daniel arap Moi to serve in his administration, but of political parties uniting for private interests. The formation of NARC, however, is more than short-term political maneuvering, it was an unprecedented assembly of most of the main opposition parties, with the intention of ousting the Kenya African National Union (KANU) once and for all. As a result, an investigation of both its formation and governing performance six months after the elections seems opportune.

In Kenyan Politics, political coalitions, are usually short-term and are designed to achieve certain goals. While some players succeed in their calculations, most of them end up being used and dumped or not achieving whatever their supposed objective is. Among the best players in the game of coalition making in Kenya is Daniel Moi. He was politically brilliant, crafty, and he used to stay ahead of the people whenever he entered into coalitions with any partner(s). Once their usefulness is over, he gets rid of them. Moi knew that Raila was after a job, despite recent implied Raila campaigns for the post of prime minister that he would like thrust into the constitution. In the Moi-Raila political coalition, the main question is, Who would be the first to dump the other and when? This coalition didn’t last.

Ruto’s dreams for state power in a hot political boiling pot!

As noted by F. Okango, 2022 politics has started in earnest. Interestingly there will be no presidential contest. That elective post is gone with the new political dispensation that is likely to be unveiled mid this year. It will be less attractive and a reserve for the statesmen. Ceremonial? Yes? No? If BBI mechanics is anything to go by, then look no further. The owners of the seat are already occupying it unapologetically. Its taken not given remember!

He adds that the 2022 governments was formed the day Baba met Uhuru. Call it DEEP state or REGGAE state. The country has been mapped going by the recent Census report .It is over folks. Its either you are in or out. It is Reggae time and if you are doubting, ask yourselves why Nakuru Reggae show had to be postponed and why Eldoret one was cancelled ! Baba Ngina could be planning to attend and if he does Baba Ebby will show up then Baba Junior will dance to an even LOUDER Reggae tune. Its all about negotiations. Strange-bedfellows are about to walk out of the political war room and the announcement will shock you. When you see the son of Jomo doing impromptu visits in a region that has never disappointed their own during presidential elections and the son of Jaramogi accepting to be the political bogeyman, then know that its done.

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Once a sworn enemy of President Uhuru Kenyatta, Raila is now toasting to new beginnings — enjoying the trappings (and reality) of state power and having a larger-than-life public stature.

Raila’s bromance with Uhuru has eclipsed other key opposition leaders, including  Musalia Mudavadi (ANC), Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper) and Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula (Ford Kenya). Ruto too appears isolated from the centre of power. Raila has over the decades exploited the ‘handshake’ — ordinarily a gesture of friendship — with political rivals to re-engineer and rebrand himself.

Even without any official position, Raila is calling some of the shots in government and has emerged as one of Uhuru’s fiercest defenders as the Jubilee administration is torn by infighting. Raila and Uhuru have been invited to the US next month for a two-day talk on their almost two-year-old handshake, which attracted the highest level of endorsement from western powers.

Recently, Mutahi Ngunyi unpacked BBI and handshake politics, keeping an eye on what is in it for Mt. Kenya. In his expose, Uhuru and Raila in the 2022 succession race, Ngunyi told Anne Kiguta on Punchline that if Ruto loses in the BBI referendum, then Uhuru and Raila may gang up to impeach him before 2022.

“Everyone knows that Ruto is arrogant and untamable. So no boardroom can agree with one sing!e character to tame him . Knowing his behavior, a woman successor, unless it is Martha Karua cannot tame Ruto. Ruto is not even caged by his President. His office is rumoured to be the most corrupt. I am thinking of this scenario! ” Adds Mutahi.

The Political scientist Mutahi Ngunyi later weighed in on the alleged tension between between DP William Ruto and President Uhuru Kenyatta, asserting that the President is merely tolerating the DP who he does not need any more. Through his weekly show “The Fifth Estate”, Ngunyi led his team in asserting that Uhuru and Ruto are in in conflict, maintaining that interests may have shifted with the entry of Raila Odinga. “Uhuru does not need Ruto. He is only tolerating him…This is painful but it is the harsh truth.”Ngunyi affirmed.

He stated that with the handshake between Raila and President Kenyatta, there was room for the President to change his mind should Odinga win his heart.


Dear Mr. President, Grace and mercy be upon you and your government. Happy Lenten season. It is with much reflection on the state of this country that I have found the strength to write to you. Like children in a dysfunctional marriage, Kenyans are worried and apprehensive about your government and your relationship with your deputy. When you both were elected, many Kenyans, and especially the young people had great hope in you. Your vision and promises made Kenyans believe in you and your presidency. The chemistry between you and your deputy redefined our leadership; kneeling for prayers during your inauguration, addressing the nation together, dressed in similar fashion was unprecedented. What we see today is a pale shadow of that. The effect of these will affect generations to come since our senior most leaders are teaching our youths to be disloyal. Your Excellency, our country is slowly but surely burning in all aspects that moulds our National fibre. The current political climate is not conducive at all. We have one government but currently we are operating like a failed State! Your election as president depended on the support of Hon. William Ruto and the versa since you were voted as duo. You therefore both have a symbiotic relationship. How do you allow your ministers to say publicly that they were “…appointed by the president and are answerable only to him?” with no regard for the deputy president and the House of parliament? It is said when you see the dog barking, the owner is around. Where do they find such arrogance? When the deputy president says something to the effect that “…unless you kill me, I will not be afraid”, where does that leave the nation? We can tell that your government is split down the middle. Your Excellency, we salute you for reaching out to Mr. Odinga on 18th of March, 2018 the gesture is welcome. With all the good of the handshake, it has confusion your leadership. Your deputy is seeking public sympathy because you have abandoned him to the Jaws of the opposition. If the deputy president is corrupt as it has claimed, use the law to get him out. The altercations between the two sides are not good for the nation. It is the high time you rose to the occasion and offered political guidance. Find it in you the need to find time to sort out your issues with your deputy; this washing of the dirty linen in public is not good for the Nation. To date the famous Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) has become a political tool rather than an opportunity to dialogue. There is very little civic education on the BBI if any; politicians are only interested in securing their political power and influence. What Kenyans are looking for is an affordable government that can be held accountable; an imperial president that the current constitution has created is a danger to the nation. We call for an issue based referendum after a stakeholder’s conference that will come up with the questions. We as a Church will not support a ‘YES’ or ‘NO’ referendum. Leadership is about vision; as a leader you need to keep your vision alive to the citizens. This is where you score poorly. Mr. President, what will you be remembered for? What happened to the Big four agenda? Every Kenyan was sure that your legacy will be defined by the four namely; affordable housing, affordable health care, infrastructure and food security. The Agenda has been swallowed by the BBI noise. It’s paramount therefore to move with speed and reclaim the Nation back to the vision. We call for an independent audit on the government loans to ascertain their legality. We suspect that Kenya is paying fictitious loans to enrich a few people in government. Please don’t leave Kenyans poorer than you found then!

Rev. Canon Wainana- Provost All Saints Cathedral


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