- The battle for President Uhuru Kenyatta’s succession is on, and three line-ups are taking shape.
- Raila Odinga is the de facto leader of Team Kieleweke, but only as the face of the anti-Ruto coalition.
- The DP can count on all MPs in the former United Republican Party wing of the Jubilee Party, except for one or two rebels.
Calls to Kenyan leaders to put aside 2022 politics and concentrate on development are futile.
The battle for President Uhuru Kenyatta’s succession is on, and three line-ups are taking shape.
On the defensive is Team Tanga Tanga, led by Deputy President William Ruto. This is the group in the ruling Jubilee Party that all along assumed that he would be the party’s automatic flag-bearer and President Kenyatta’s successor, based on a 2013 gentleman’s agreement.
Taking the battle to the Team Tanga Tanga squad is Team Kieleweke. This is a formation comprising Jubilee members opposed to the DP, the mainstream Opposition, and others.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga is the de facto leader of Team Kieleweke, but only as the face of the anti-Ruto coalition as a formula is worked out on how to share the spoils.
Playing from the sidelines is the still elusive Western alliance fronted by Mr Musalia Mudavadi and Mr Moses Wetang'ula, currently selling themselves as the official opposition, given that Mr Odinga, the leader of main opposition ODM party, has one foot in the government.
Significantly, the Western alliance is cheering on the side of Kieleweke, and would be only too happy to see the Tanga Tanga squad chased out of town. So, basically the derby is between Tanga Tanga and Kieleweke.
In a political contest, four factors count: The numbers, resources, strategy, and sales pitch. Control of the State machinery also counts for much, sometimes for everything.
Talking numbers, what does Tanga Tanga put on the table? Here a distinction should be made between the numbers one can marshal in Parliament, and the numbers in a popular vote, say in a referendum or election proper.
The DP can count on all MPs in the former United Republican Party (URP) wing of the Jubilee Party, except for one or two rebels.
Also in his bag are up to a dozen MPs “bought” — as his rivals put it — from the TNA side of Jubilee. They are Kimani Ichungwa (Kikuyu), Moses Kuria (Gatundu), Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu), Alice Wahome (Kandara), Mary Waithira (Maragua) and Sabina Chege (Murang’a Woman Rep). Also in the category of the “bought” is ODM’s Aisha Jumwa (Malindi MP).
Outside Parliament, he can count on the solid support of governors Ferdinand Waititu (Kiambu), Ann Waiguru (Kirinyaga) and Mwangi wa Iria (Murang’a). Then there are the MPs Jubilee snatched from the Opposition in Western, who were voted in on the New Ford Kenya Party tickets.
In total, the DP can count on roughly, up to a 100 individuals in both Parliament and the Senate.
While that is a reliable shield against any plot against him that would require a two-thirds majority vote, say a no-confidence vote, it is not enough for him to push an agenda of his own in Parliament. The overwhelming joint Kieleweke vote would make such a move a non-starter.
What of the popular vote? Can the DP mobilise enough votes outside a united Jubilee and beat Kieleweke at the presidential ballot? No.
To use the analogy of metals, the vote Mr Ruto commands is like an iron, which not as strong on its own as it is when combined with another metal.