The Jubilee duo is looking to get back to State House. What are their chances now that the International Criminal Court is no longer looming in the background?
By Tom Mboya
When they exploded into the local political scene, joined at the hip in their political savviness, Kenyans took notice of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto. Never before in the history of Kenya have two people come out so strongly to sell themselves as presidential and vice presidential material.
In fact their supporters were so enamored of them that the outgoing president Mwai Kibaki called them ‘the dynamic duo’. Later they launched a blitzkrieg of campaign that saw them scour the land seeking votes, a feat rewarded by ending up at State House.
Five years later, Uhuru and Ruto are back in the trenches, fighting the battle of their lives as they seek a second term in office. Far and away, they can be said to be the frontrunners if for no any other reason but the advantage of incumbency. World over, incumbents have an added advantage and the Uhuru and Ruto case is no different.
Question is: how would a second UhuRuto presidency look like? First and foremost, for Uhuru this would be a walk in the park―akin to long party. This is because he would be under no pressure to do anything since he will never contest again anyway.
This would be the perfect chance for him to strategise about his life post the presidency. He might want to concentrate on building up the family owned Kenyatta Trust. The trust says that it “was established to nurture leaders from all over Kenya; therefore in order to accomplish this we take students from all the 47 counties. We select students who have just finished Class 8 in the 8-4-4 system, based on their KCPE exam results, extracurricular activities and community service. Once we have selected our students we then sponsor their high school and university education.”
However, Uhuru may want to start his own foundation from scratch. In a country where poverty, disease and illiteracy are commonplace, the retiring president would be spoilt for choice as to what area he would devote his energies into.
In the meantime, he might use his second term to chaperone a family member to follow in his footsteps in politics. As we all know, political dynasties have the tendency to have one of their own in the higher echelons of politics at any given time. There have been talks to the effect that Uhuru’s son Jomo might want to get into politics. So the second term would be the perfect chance to show the young man the ropes and introduce him to the movers and shakers of the country’s politics.
With politics going into the back burner of his diary, Uhuru can lend his experience to the African Union, helping to mediate in continental disputes.
Ruto, on the other hand, will be having a royal headache trying to forge alliances even as he eyes the top prize in 2022. The man from Sugoi will have to contend with other upcoming politicians especially from Mount Kenya, an area whose support is critical if the deputy president is to ascend to presidency.
Alternatively, Ruto might just turn into a king-maker and start grooming a new set of leaders who will kowtow to him. Jointly, the two can use the second term to deliver on the promises they made in 2013, most of which have gone largely unattained. These include the laptop project and the stadiums to be built across the country, among others.
But if Uhuruto were to lose in the next elections the ramifications would be far and wide. It is an open secret that losing would not hit Uhuru very badly; after all, he had in 2013 almost dropped out of the race citing frustrations.
It is very likely that Uhuru would go back to his former private office at the Chancery building and continue with his life from where he left when he became president. The family, although disappointed, would definitely do with his new experience from the presidency and take it back to the family business.
The man who might never recover from such a loss would be Ruto. All along, he has shown a burning ambition, which many believe will one day end up at State House. Losing would mean that he will have to be in the opposition, a place he last sat in after the 2002 elections and again just before the 2007 polls.
However, one advantage Ruto has is his age, and he can use the time in opposition to build new networks with the aim of running again for president in 2022. With the wherewithal he might need, it is not farfetched to say that Ruto will be a key player in Kenyan politics for a long time to come.