Kenya is a very interesting place to live in. A day in politics is a very long time, especially in a country like ours where simple moves by politicians could provide both opportunities and setbacks for an individual’s political career. For some reason, we can never settle down for just development without talking about an election that is still about four years away.
Our politicians are used to this and so they always strategize on the next big move before even their current ones are completed. The Ancient Far East Philosopher Sun Tzu tells us that the best game to play is the Chinese game of go rather than chess or monopoly. While the aim of monopoly is to conquer resources and the aim of chess to destroy the King, the Chinese game of go conquers space, and with space comes both resources and more ability to destroy the King!
Having said that, it is important to note that Deputy President William Ruto has been the biggest beneficiary of the rearranging power of the Uhuru-Raila Handshake. He has used this opportunity to reach out to former political rivals and enemies quickly than his counterparts, and the fruits are beginning to appear way before the next elections.
The battle for 2022 has already began in earnest. Development projects and country tours by politicians are now being done in a manner that to any keen political analyst, may seem to either win sworn political enemies or put in check rivals while at the same time solidify the already available base. No matter how many shifting moves politicians make, there are certain things that can never change in Kenya and politicians will only adopt to them.
One, Kenya, even with the new constitutional dispensation, is culturally divided into Ten Regions; Nairobi, Central, Coast, Eastern, North Eastern, South Rift, North Rift, Central Rift, Western, and Nyanza. Two, there are three regions in this country that can never divide their vote in whatever circumstances. These regions include Central, Rift Valley and Luo Nyanza. Whatever calculation a politician makes, he/she must have that at the back of his mind. Of this three regions, Ruto may have at least two, one fully solid and one seemingly adherent.
Now the battle must go to the remaining regions. Aden Duale’s increasing influence in North Eastern may earn the Deputy President some votes. The Gusii Nyanza is beginning to wane citing frustrations they claim to be experiencing in the Orange Democratic Movement. This region might be ripe for fresh onslaught hence the frequent trips to it by the Deputy President.
In Eastern, our Kamba brothers feel betrayed by both Jubilee and Nasa and might most probably solidify Wiper in readiness for the next election. For the Deputy President, this is a region he could leave alone or make inroads into. But last week’s meeting with Governor Kivutha Kibwana tells us that Ruto is leaving nothing to chance. Here, he might need a kingpin to check on Kalonzo if he does not make deal with him.
The vote rich western still seeks direction after the fallout that came in Nasa thanks to the desperate attempts by its top brass to secretly meet Jubilee leaders after the elections. The former Prime Minister’s move with President Uhuru Kenyatta was probably the only open manifestation of dark-in-the-night moves that were being made by politicians behind the scenes. This region may be ripe for take over again, since non of its top brass can marshal resources nationwide to win presidency. Thus, the new political merger between Hon. Mudavadi’s Amani National Coalition (if its that) and Hon. Wetangula’s Ford Kenya may just be a calculation to bargain for a higher stake within the Deputy President’s camp.
This leaves one big region that must be conquered, the coast. On Wednesday, the Deputy President will be back there. Reasons for this trip? Not credible enough to me unless there is something behind the scenes that seems to have pushed the Orange Democratic Movement’s top brass into panic mode. There’s this feeling in the air that Hon. Aisha Jumwa, Governors Amason Jeffer Kingi and Salim Mvurya may just be the first dominoes to fall into the Deputy President’s camp in a long line of the many who are seeking favors from the state machinery come 2022.
As an MP, missing a meeting organized by your party boss is either an act of great courage or a plainly written and signed statement that you may be shifting camp or are undecided about which national team to back. Most of these leaders, except for the few, may be in between Jubilee and Nasa. They are undecided and the Deputy President may have smelled this from far and he is ready to pounce with goodies, dark-cornered handshakes and promises.
Last week’s secret meeting organized by Raila and his inner circle tells a lot about Ruto’s moves and how much he has already put in his corner while he still a long way of. Also, the saving face move done by coast MP’s today may just be patching a wound and saving face to avoid the reality, that inroads are being made and no one seems to put them in check.
In Kenyan politics, it is not about the character if the leader, it is about how much the leader can do first for me and then for others. This principle may be earning the Deputy President many allies than we seem to care, even formerly sworn political enemies. This goes on for long, he might just make his dreams come true in 2022.