In Summary

  • Jubilee insiders say the 50-year-old Ruto was the engine of their campaigns.

  • Mr Ruto’s sharp tongue can turn any statement from an opponent on its head.

  • The 2013 victory also helped Mr Ruto to finally shake off the last vestiges of Moi’s long shadow.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory in the Tuesday elections placed his deputy William Ruto firmly on the succession path.

In many ways, Mr Ruto had a big stake in this election as a defeat would have roundly derailed his ambitions.

Jubilee insiders say the 50-year-old Ruto was the engine of their campaigns.

They credit him for the inroads they made in Opposition turfs, a feat that saw him visit these areas many times ahead of Tuesday’s election.

An articulate employer of Kalenjin, English and Kiswahili idiom, Mr Ruto’s sharp tongue can turn any statement from an opponent on its head and deliver a deadly blow of a taunt so much so that those on the receiving end find his eloquence condescending.

URP

In 2013 his remarkable political networks saw his party, URP, which was hurriedly put together after his acrimonious exit from ODM, sweep the boards in Rift Valley and garner 60-odd MPs across the country, including in regions like Busia, Kuria and North Eastern.

Mr Ruto then went ahead to negotiate for himself key ministries such as Finance and Energy, dockets historically left to the President in coalition governments.

Now in the aftermath of their disputed victory, the DP will be seen within Central Kenya as the man who masterminded president Kenyatta’s re-election.

The thinking within Mr Ruto’s corner and analysts, however think that the honeymoon might not last long as Mount Kenya region could begin consolidating itself to groom President Kenyatta’s successor. 

KIKUYU NATIONALISM

And while this caution might be a little exaggerated, those who advance the possibility of a resurgence of Kikuyu nationalism post-2017 point to the fact that while President Kenyatta may be personally committed to keeping to his promise to back Mr Ruto next time around, there are many around him, including a powerful central Kenya wealthy businessmen, who would prefer to front their own candidate.

The thinking is that if they don’t field their own presidential candidate, these Mount Kenya tycoons will almost certainly insist on a Kikuyu running mate.

This could complicate matters since Mr Ruto might want to expand Jubilee from what is now a Kalenjin-Kikuyu elite partnership.

But even taking Mr Ruto’s mobilisation skills into consideration, those who know government affairs since Kibaki times, however, warn that power lies in the security apparatus and civil service.

POWER BASE

“The problem is that Ruto has not been aggressive in building a power base within the civil service. He has not got a strong man or woman with intellect, imagination and ability to be his hands in the civil service,” explained Dr Kiprono Chesang, a political science scholar.

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