In Part V of my series on Hon. William Samoei Ruto, Member of Parliament for Eldoret North, I concluded after a thorough and objective legal analysis that Ruto, along with Kosgey and Sang, will not be convicted either at the Hague or even in Kenya for the crimes they remain charged with by the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
In Part VI, I continue to analyze Ruto’s prospects as a Kenyan politician, given all of these and his fall-out with the leader of ODM, Rt. Hon. Prime Minister Raila Amolo Odinga (RAO or Raila).
More specifically, I am in this analysis attempting to answer the following questions posed to me by someone in another forum: What exactly transpired between [Ruto] and Raila and ODM that caused the rift between the two? What do you know and what have you heard? Is this relationship salvageable?
These are good questions which I have in some way or another answered in my series about Ruto. However, I have not addressed, or if I have, I do not recall addressing the questions from the perspective of answering another question, which I think in the end, provides a good analytic basis to answer them and to also understand Ruto and his status as a significant politician in Kenya and that is, what could have happened had President Kibaki honored his promise to RAO to make him prime minister, following the elections of 2002?
We all remember Kibaki Tosha, and the euphoria that followed the election of Kibaki in the 2002 elections, basically on the power of those two words.
The excitement was short-lived, however, because no sooner had Kibaki taken office as president did he make it known Raila was not to be a factor in his administration, let alone the prime minister he had been promised in the haggling and dealing leading up to the 2002 elections.
And with that, the Kibaki Succession Game (KSG) Round 1 was on and no one on Kibaki’s camp, especially the master strategists at his inner core was even thinking 2007; they were looking ahead to 2012 because the outcome of 2007, to them, was a given regardless of what the voters had in mind.
There is good reason to believe this but none of it would become more evident until after the fact.
To be sure, our old constitution did not have any provision under which Kibaki could have appointed Raila prime minister at that time but Kibaki could have had the constitution amended to create the position, if he so wanted.
Kibaki could have also chosen to outdo both of his predecessors by declaring RAO prime minister mupende msipende (like it or not) but I don’t think he has in him ability to be that reckless and dictatorial.
Had Kibaki found a way and appointed Raila prime minister, the politics of Kenya would have taken a path such that Ruto and everyone else in the opposition today would have been neutralized to the point of near total irrelevancy.
On the other hand, the country would not have had the sweeping constitutional reforms we have now for success in creating a premiership, followed with improved or better delivery of services benefiting the public at large, consistent with their expectations with Kibaki’s victory in 2002 would have reduced the hunger for deep and dramatic changes in how we are governed that became even more defined and more urgently sought after, after the elections of 2007.
One scenario that would have emerged, had Raila become prime minister, would have been Kibaki and Raila working together to yes, deliver a new but somewhat less dramatic constitution, followed by Kibaki likely being re-elected in 2007 and setting the stage for Raila to be more easily elected president in 2012 than will be the case under the scenario now playing, which I discuss below.
Ruto, under this first scenario, would not have had anything to be offered by Kibaki or PNU, the prime rib having gone to Raila so he either would have stayed put in ODM, or do what he did and continues to do, under the second scenario that again is now playing and as I describe below.
Under the scenario where Ruto remained put in ODM with RAO prime minister, Ruto will right now be battling with Mudavadi and probably Ngilu in efforts to position himself as the next prime minister after RAO who, under this scenario, and as I have indicated above, would be on a much easier path to the presidency than he is.
But probably unknown to RAO, this scenario first scenario did not come into play because KSG Round 1 was quietly on, leading to the second scenario that is now playing.
Under this second scenario, Ruto features significantly in KSG albeit much to his surprise because I don’t think he was roped in on the initial KSG planning stage.
Instead, Ruto was busy planning his own Raila Succession Game (RSG). Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on who is looking at it, there is only one round in RSG: it’s a knock-out round or nothing.
Although the overall and common strategic end objective of both KSG and RSG is the same, namely, blocking Raila from ascending to the presidency, both have different advantages and disadvantages viz Raila as compared to each other but combined, they remove a determinative and probably insurmountable advantage Raila has going into the final game in the KSG game and that is, home field advantage.
There is no question ODM remains the largest, most organized and widely supported party in the country; there is also no question Raila remains popular across the country and so far is the man to beat to get to State House. This is the equivalent of having home field advantage.
Having a home field advantage is not by itself an assurance the home team must win the game but it’s nonetheless something every player and coach will tell you they’d rather have than playing in enemy or hostile territory, which is precisely where KSG and RSG find themselves playing even as of this writing: in enemy or hostile territory.
Given this reality, KSG must have figured early after the last elections that the only way they could end up victorious against RAO is either (1) to topple or cripple him as the star of ODM or (2) remove his home field advantage, with the two not being mutually exclusive.
This is why Ruto was misled to leave ODM. That is, Ruto was told “come on our side, we’ll help you destroy RAO in ODM and we’ll share the spoils: you by becoming the unquestionable new king maker in the country with continued access to power and money, our man UK the presidency.”
Although this ruse was enticing enough for Ruto to sever relations with Raila and leave him and ODM, which he has for all practical purposes and intent done, he will be the first one to tell you bringing down RAO may have looked easy on the drawing board but when it comes down to it, Raila is more firmly grounded the most and best Ruto or anyone is going to do, is to have Raila’s towering presence sway sideways half-an inch or so and in the process shake off some leaves off his braches but that’s it.
KSG and RSG having put forth their best efforts but failed to topple RAO or even cripple him as the star player of Team ODM half-way through Game 1, its strategists must have figured the only other option is to confuse, deal and even buy and woo away ODM and RAO’s fans and turn enough of them into their supporters therefore negating RAO’s home-field advantage.
KSG once again, found in Ruto the appropriate mascot to do this—and I don’t use this term pejoratively, but, much to their surprise and quite frankly everyone else’s, KSG and Ruto are finding these ODM and Raila fans more deeply committed to their team than anticipated, and even for a number of those not as deeply committed, neither KSG nor Ruto has given them any good reason why they should abandon support for their team and specifically, neither KSG nor Ruto has offered anything in terms of assuring them a thriller game and a lasting celebration thereafter, given these fans are not impressed or interested in what the KSG and Ruto has to offer, compared to what ODM or Raila is offering, or can offer.
Which leads me to the other question posed, and that is, whether Ruto’s severed relationship with ODM and Raila is salvageable.
I most certainly think it is, for the reasons I state in my ODM Prodigal Son Come Home; Extending An Olive Branch To William Samoei Ruto, which I post a good and updated portion of it as follows, for the reader’s convenience. (For full flavor and context, please read the blog itself).
The Book of Luke Chapter 15:11-32 tells the story of the Prodigal Son; a story about two sons and a father in which after the younger son so requests, his father divides the family property evenly between the two sons. The younger son sets off to have fun on wildly things and after squandering everything, returns to his homestead and his father welcomes him back much to the chagrin of his older brother who remained and labored for the father all the while the younger son was having fun but never accorded any show of affection or appreciation from the father.
I thought about this story when reading a Standard Online story appearing on http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/InsidePage.php?id=2000034025&cid=4& that a cabinet reshuffle is afoot and that the PM is faced with a choice to keep or let go the suspended minister for education, William Ruto. The party is apparently divided with the handful of MPs allied to Ruto saying he should be allowed to return with the rest saying he should be shown the door he is already more than half way past anyway. The cabinet reshuffle has yet to take place as of this writing.
Going strictly by what is reasonable, this is an easy decision for Raila to make: show Ruto the door and let in a replacement from the Rift Valley–and there are any number of able and more qualified MPs who more than fit the shoes left empty with Ruto’s departure.
That’ll be a very easy decision to make had there not been such lies and distortions propagated by Ruto and Co against Raila in the Rift which in my view Ruto should basically confess to and save his political career by asking Raila to assent to his return to the cabinet. Doing otherwise is unwise.
Since posting my blog, Members of Parliament led by Hon. Frankling Bett have come forth to confirm that Ruto, indeed, has been lying about Raila and his role in the Mau evictions. As I discussed in The News About Rift Valley ODM MPs Getting Set To Regain Ground in RV Is Good News, the MPs’ move is good news not just for ODM and Raila, but also for the country at large.
Meanwhile, in the previous Standard story, Ruto’s allies were quoted as saying Ruto “is not desperate” to return to the cabinet. That’s cannot be true. Ruto would rather be a rebel ODM MP and minister than a rebel ODM MP without a ministerial portfolio, which itself is better than quitting ODM and being forced to seek re-election to parliament, an outcome which is not assured despite Ruto having everyone believe it is.
Quitting ODM and seeking fresh mandate is a pre-requisite, if being a PNU minister is what Ruto has been promised by those egging or advising him to quit ODM and join that party.
As I have stated elsewhere in my blog, Ruto has been a rebel ODM member for a long time but time is nearing for Ruto to make a decision whether he disembarks completely from ODM or he hangs on for what it’s worth to him.
The media has cast this as the PM’s major decision as to whether to keep or boot Ruto, given the impending reshuffle. I say the bigger decision is for Ruto to decide whether he leaves ODM for an uncertain political future or seek redemption and stay on in ODM where his future is better predictable and altogether avoid the sharks that await him in the waters were he to jump ship.
Like the prodigal son, Ruto should simply return home to ODM, seek redemption to the extent possible and I am sure the party will welcome him back with no hurt feelings.
Obviously some may consider this prospect out of the question but in the final analysis, it is a better path Ruto should seriously consider given where things are headed politically for him.
Incidentally, just saying this reminds me of one Maasai warrior from Moi era by the name Stanley Oloitiptip. (You’ll have to read about the Oloitiptip connection on the blog).
In sum, Ruto has been trying to find shorter ways to get to the presidency. He has been aggressive and direct about this. There is nothing wrong with that; after all, ambition and a desire to get to your desired destination in a hurry is not necessarily a bad thing, but only if you do it right.
In other words, what’s wrong with unchecked ambition and trying to get to one’s destination in a hurry is if, when in doing so, you create havoc and misery along the way for others, while wrecking everything else to your destination.
Not a good thing to do.
Ruto can still get to his desired destination of State House; he just must make sure his vessel of choice is fully serviced, with all the necessaries to last the trip; since he knows he cannot make it there by himself, even with the support of his entire Kalenjin community, he must make sure he is in a vessel with a good Captain and experienced crew capable of navigating the turbulent waters of the high seas; he must be prepared to work closely with the captain and position himself to take over the role of Captain when the latter retires or otherwise no longer wishes to be at the helm, he must make sure there are no individuals aboard, including the captain ready and willing to throw him aboard for their own desired ends—if and when necessary; he must recognize and let the Captain pilot the vessel without interference and he must make amends with the Captain for anything he may have done to miff the Captain, if he must, and he must do so quick, lest the Captain becomes the one who has to have him thrown overboard to political abyss, if it is in the interest of the vessel and welfare of its occupants and the nation to do so.
I would do all of these things and more, if I were Ruto for it is sometimes advisable and better to follow a longer course one is familiar with, difficult and treacherous as it may be, than following an unknown one with no certainty as to what pitfalls lie ahead, or where it ends, easy as it might be.
Copyright June 2011 Samuel N. Omwenga, Esq.