In politics, optics are as important as substance so anyone is free to interpret optics as they fancy it’s a question of how most people see it.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto showed up at today’s Madaraka Day celebrations donning matching or nearly matching suits, shoes, red ties and masks which had some Kenyans excited, especially on social media wondering if the two have reconciled and returned to their earlier days bromance where they were also wearing matching shirts and ties to project their joined at the hip brotherly love.
An interesting question to ask nonetheless is whether the donning of this matching attire was meant to be a statement or coincidental? That’s something none of us can tell or know for sure, but given nothing is coincidental in politics, at least not of this level of detail, one can assume there was some coordination to convey a message, leaving the further question, what message?
If history is anything to go by, wiser counsel is to not assume much from this because, two politicians laughing and high fiving each other today does not mean they will do so tomorrow if their interests diverge.
Indeed, even forgetting about history for a moment and just look at what has happened to Ruto in the past few weeks, the political whupping he has received and the damage is irreversible at this point.
Right now and to the foreseeable future, there’s nothing Ruto can do to reverse course on which his political demise is on for at least 2022 politics.
It is said anything is possible in politics but that’s an overstatement as the requisite conditions and circumstances must be right for that to be the case.
While Ruto can throw in the towel in as far as succeeding Uhuru goes, and seek whatever crumps the system may throw his way come 2022, fact is the man from Sugoi is politically finished and his ambition for 2022 came crashing when all his backers in the Senate abandoned and did not even bother to put up a fight against the purge that took place there.
Others have wobbled and shown signs or even outright told friends they will not be there for Ruto if the choice came to between backing him or doing as Uhuru wishes.
Indeed, according to one number cruncher I know who is privy to an analysis that has been done as to who is likely to vote for who and why on the question of impeaching Ruto, if a motion to that effect is brought in the national assembly, and if the ongoing Jubilee negotiations with national leaders for a grand coalition holds, Uhuru is short between 8 and 15 votes of the 233 needed to impeach Ruto, if he opts to go this route.
That’s a number that Uhuru can whip and have their votes within minutes.
According to the same source, the votes are there to remove Ruto in the Senate–and by a large margin.
Wachana na impeachment kwa sasa; that’s the mother of all battles but there is smaller though significant battle to be fought and won and that is continued purging of Ruto loyalists this time at the National Assembly where efforts to save Duale appear to have failed and now he’s facing the chop.
I said the other day only Murathe can save Duale from being axed but I have changed my mind and now say Murathe has punted because someone else wants Duale out more than Murathe wants him in.
My new thinking is partially informed by recent reporting that it is now up-to Uhuru who really doesn’t care one way or another to decide whether Duale stays as majority leader or is out.
The irony of ironies as I see it is this:
If Ruto is spared the humiliation of removal from office by impeachment (which I advised against in my weekend oped) to politically live to fight another day for the presidency (2027 or 2032), then he must agree to (a) the purging that is next to take place at the National Assembly, including removal of Duale as majority leader and (b) not to whine at all about several CSs deemed loyal to him that will soon be shown the exit door to make room for the new government of national unity in formation.
In my belief, what you saw today is quintessentially a part of that amicable divorce if Ruto can live up-to his end of this lowly bargain that leaves him an empty suit wandering around the walls of power with absolutely nothing to do but pass time.
Interestingly, and relevant for this matching attire excitement, Ruto’s problems lie not with Uhuru, but the very system that put them together in the first place, and later in office without the votes required under the constitution.
That system calls the shots, not Uhuru.
Unfortunately for Ruto, his calculations and schemes at the expense of Uhuru has alienated him from the man such that even he has come around to let the system have its way without him trying to stop them or make it harder.
I have personally met and chatted with Uhuru twice and the last time was at a prominent Kenyan politician’s home just after passage of the 2010 constitution. On both occasions, I was very impressed how articulate and charming the man was and not for a moment did I think I was talking to this person the media depicted as a clueless someone born with a silver spoon in his mouth.
That man, I surmised then, and remain so convinced today, is shrewd, intelligent, knows what he is doing and underrate him at your own peril.
Ruto underrated him at his peril and that peril is the music he is facing right now, with more to come down the road.
I also know the man rewards loyalty like no other; meaning, had Ruto remained loyal through and through to him without undercutting and remaining quiet as his foot soldiers insulted and disrespected him, Ruto would been in exactly the same situation Raila was with Kibaki through elections: someone his coalition partner and the system did not want to see the inside of State House as president but waited to election day to say so loudly and clearly.
In other words, yes, had Ruto remained loyal to Uhuru, he would have gone to 2022 as a leading presidential candidate to succeed Uhuru and even probably carried the day in votes but only to be rigged out by the system because they just cannot have the man in office as president.
For many, many reasons not the least of which is their fear he will finish them, especially those who have let it known from the very beginning he sits where he sits as a matter of convenience for them, not some self-made hustler prowess he does not tire to project though rendered useless by recent events with more to come.
So, my take is there is no bromance here it is likely Uhuru has given Ruto a nice send-off from State House as the man may not even be there as DP come next Madaraka Day, or even Jamhuri Day unless he lives through the pain of political austerity measures Uhuru and the system have tailor made for him.
Since posting this blog, Uhuru had a Jubilee PG meeting and Duale’s job was saved. Here is what I posted elsewhere as an update:
I have been saying for a long time the only person who would have saved Duale’s job as majority leader is David #Murathe as #Uhuru did not care either way if #Duale remained. I changed my mind and said it was now a toss up between Murathe and one other significant person who wanted Duale gone. As it was reported in the media, it was Uhuru to decide which of the two men will have their way.
It turns out Murathe has and now Duale must do as Murathe (read: the system) tells him to do and will only be happy to do so. This is also why it was easy for Uhuru to lean in Murathe’s direction because Duale has never once insulted or disrespected him and neither has he failed to push through the president’s agenda as told. In other words, he keeps his job in part because he has been clever in not offending the hands the fed him.