Top Stories / 2017 Elections
Saturday, 28 Jan 2017 13:03 EAT
It is exactly a week since Mama Ngina Kenyatta, the mother of President Uhuru Kenyatta and matriarch of the Kenyatta family business and political stable, visited retired president Daniel arap Moi at his Kabarak home and held a meeting that sent political tongues wagging. That meeting was crucial for President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election campaign and solidified a new strategy the president will deploy in the coming weeks.
Following an exclusive report in The Nairobian, a Moi family-owned newspaper, that Mama Ngina would like to see Deputy President William Ruto's influence over her son reduced, the Kenya Free Press sought the views of Jubilee powerbrokers about how this would fit in a general election campaign that all observers believe the president can never dream of winning unless he got the full backing of his deputy.
The broad picture that emerged from our interviews with the Jubilee mid-level staffers and journalists is a new electoral strategy being devised by Uhuru's campaign consultants that seeks to take advantage of the public's distrust of the deputy president without removing him from the ticket. The strategy is pronged on three pillars: taking a harsher line against corruption in which the DP is implicated, showing by deed that Mr Ruto is not Jubilee's automatic choice for Uhuru succession, and reaching out to Mr Ruto's opponents in the Rift Valley including Baringo senator Gideon Moi.
On corruption, the president plans to give the new EACC boss Eliud Wabukala a free hand to torment high level corruption suspects. "If there is anything undermining the president, it is corruption. A lot of Kenyans now see him as condoning corruption and CORD will take advantage of this. However, it is the DP Kenyans believe to be most corrupt,” said one journalist. The journalist emphasized that perception of rampant corruption was hurting the president not only nationally but in Central Kenya too, pointing to the heckling of the president in Thika yesterday.
After a high profile campaign during the trial of her son and Mr Ruto during the last year of the Kibaki presidency, Mama Ngina has remained quiet for the last four years her son has been the President, but now she wants to put herself at the center of a tough presidential campaign. “She believes that Mr Ruto has run rings around the presidency,” said a Jubilee parliamentary aspirant in Nairobi.
As the president faces an ever stiff challenge from a potentially united opposition front under National Super Alliance (NASA) bringing together Raila Odinga (ODM), Kalonzo Musyoka (WDM-K), Moses Wetangula (Ford Kenya) and Musalia Mudavadi ((ANC), the former first lady believes Uhuru can fashion his own alliance with she and the retired president Moi assembling a team of veteran politicians.
At the meeting, we were informed, the two elders discussed modalities for bring Moi’s son and Baringo Senator Gideon with his Kanu allies under the Jubilee banner without requiring the party to dissolve, contrary to a demand by Mr Ruto, who is the one who has blocked Kanu having a good deal in the coalition.
“This would send the message to politicians in the Rift Valley that they do not have to obey every dictate from the deputy president as there is still an alternative party for them,” said a Jubilee Party member reputed for his insights inti the inner workings of the Uhuru State House.
As per the plans, Jubilee Party leaders have remained mum on the heightened heckling of the deputy president across the country, seeing the drama as favourable to the unfolding strategy. This latest onslaught against DP Ruto comes against the background of a statement by the Kikuyu Council of Elders (KCE) late last year telling the president to drop his deputy from his campaigns ahead of the August election.
KCE in their push wanted Mr Ruto to campaign separately, specifically in Rift Valley where they feel Jubilee is losing immense support ahead of the polls. According to the KCE, the DP is overly aggressive and has polarised most regions especially those with swing votes that may benefit Jubilee in incoming polls.
Regarding 2022 elections, the entry of Peter Kenneth into the Nairobi gubernatorial race has ruffled the DP’s feathers enough, and the president is expected to come out openly in support of Mr Kenneth, thereby sending the message about his preferences, according to the sources.