Political fireworks as President William Ruto forages into Nyanza

A newcomer in Kenya may be misled into believing that there’s an election coming soon. The whirlwind of tours that president William Ruto has had across the country has further stirred political waters. With planned regional meetings, latest being a consequential visit of the four counties of luo Nyanza.

Supported Raila, embracing Ruto-the new face of Nyanza

Nyanza voters overwhelimgly supported Raila Odinga in the 2022 elections, no doubt. But in Ruto seems ready to reconnect with the people of Nyanza. On his meet the people caravan, the messaging of Ruto clearly focused on striking the soft spot among the people.

President Ruto, a seemigly ironed master of politics know that the luo community recognize his role in the 2007 elctions. Nowonder he dedicated a lot of time to recast the memories. He kept mentioning his role in Raila becoming the prime minister of Kenya.

In so many words, Ruto assured the people that he will keep coming back. Now the president openly seems to woo Nyanza. Even old projects such as the Lake Basin Mall gave him a platform to politic. The projects president Ruto lanched ostensibly served as a launchpad to win hearts and minds.

Revisiting the old good days , the president seems to be strategic. He’s making a strong case for himself. With 2027 presidential elections, Ruto looks like continuing with his rulebook of starting early and staying the course.

President Ruto on his last day of his Nyanza tour

Pundits and political observers still remain unclear on whether Raila Odinga will make a sixth stab at the presidency. His chances of winning should he make the surprising decision to run again remain unclear.

The next natural question that follows is who Rails may support if he doesn’t run in the next election. These questions seem to inform each move that president William Ruto now makes.

President William Ruto receives a rousing welcome from the residents of Nyanza on his visit

President Ruto is evidently a man who knows well how to play his political cards. When he ventured into Mount Kenya, the then deputy president left no stone unturned. Ruto tacticly created a euphoria that swept; almost annihilated the Jubilee party from the region. Jubilee party still haemorghages from the election losses in Mount Kenya.

Now, the president has trained his overtures in Nyanza even though Raila seemed to warn him against playing politics during the tour of the region. During his visit, the president, being the politician he is, did not stop to charismatically remind the Nyanza people of their old good days with Raila as members of the Pentagon.

Anybody who actively followed the 2007 elections in which the now president William Ruto ardently supported Raila Odinga must have had his memories rekindled this week. The trip which ostensibly ought to have been a four day development tour had to inevitably take a political direction. President Ruto told the residents of their hard beaten paths together with Raila Odinga. 

President Ruto had only kind expressions to talk about Raila in Nyanza

The people of Nyanza come across as not so easy to manipulate especially when it comes to their support for Raila Odinga. But at least for this week, Ruto seems to warm the hearts of many just one year after a hotly contested general elections.

In the past elections where Raila had contested for presidency controversially lost, Nyanza hasn’t been so welcoming.While the duly elected president is by law a symbol of national unity and has a duty to treat each part of Kenya equally, the people of Nyanza haven’t been as patient to welcome presidents who they perceived to have stolen Raila’s victory.

In the elections of 2022, we have memories of how president Ruto vowed in not so kind words to take baba back to Bondo once and for all. He would exclaim, “huyu mtu wa kitendawili nitamchukua nimweke kwa wheelbarrow nimsafirishe hadi Bondo akapumzike. Amseumbua Wakenya kwa muda mrefu.” But this week, in what may be seen as calibrating to win the hearts of the people of Nyanza, the president chose to heap praises and show bromance for Raila.

Some of the kind words the president used in reference to Raila when in Nyanza this past week include;

  • My elder brother Raila Odinga
  • Hata baba ni mtu Wangu
  • Mimi nilikuwa upande mmoja na Raila kwa ule uchaguzi wa 2007 nikachangia pakubwa ndio aitwe prime minister
  • Mimi nimempigia Raila kura na hata nikamuombea kura, bado angali na deni yangu yeye. Nitamuuliza pia yeye arudishe mkono

Projects that president Ruto visited, launched, commissioned on his tour of Nyanza

They say when the visitor comes, especially of the caliber of a sitting head of state, goodies come in tow. This wasn’t any different as president Ruto entered Nyanza on a weeklong tour. The president who seems to be a great master of Robert Greene’s 48 laws of power, especially turning foes into friends for a purpose sparred nothing to convince the people of Nyanza that his government is all inclusive.

The beauty of Nyanza at a glance

During his tour of Nyanza, the president had the following development projects to commission, launch and visit

Projects president Ruto launched,commissioned, opened and visited on his 4 day visit of Nyanza counties

Ruto garnering to win Nyanza in 2027 elections

The most difficult questin that dazzles even the best of political observers is how president Ruto hopes to win support of Nyanza voters. Even most intriguing is the thought that Raila Odinga may choose to support Kalonzo Musyoka for the 2027 presidential election. But then Ruto appears to be on top of so much.

Openly, the people of Nyanza,especially those who participated in the 2007 general eclections know the critical role Ruto played. If history was to be kind to anybody when it comes to the support for Raila for presidency, that should be William Ruto. This man not only campaigned vigorously for Baba but his strong stance landed him at the docks of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

As any politician will tell you, its never so easy to predict how politics will play in the future, not even tommorrow. After the 2022 elections, Kalonzo Musyoka and his diehard supporters quickly moved to publicly ask Raila to be ready to support him. But then place Kalonzo and Ruto on a scale among the people of Nyanza. How does that scale behave? Swings more towards Ruto right? Maybe mistaken?

Anyone with good memories may recall how Kalonzo Musyoka and his henchment crossed to former president Kibaki. After a controversial escape with the ODM-Kenya party certificate, Kalonzo still went ahead and sealed his identity as a traitor.

Kalonzo backroom deals with Kibaki that almost sealed Raila’s fate after 2007 presidential elections

Nobody would have imagined that Kalonzo would get into backroom deals with Kibaki. He confirmed that politics only knows interests and betrayal as constants. But, he may stand a chance to be served the same bitter pill in 2027 should he vie for presidency.

At a critical point when Raila was clearly winning the presidency in 2007, Kalonzo Musyoka chickened out and backed the late president Kibaki. Even before the elections, Kalonzo had given in to machinations that ended in him making away with the ODM Kenya party certificate which Raila would have used to vie. So, Kalonzo remains in the books of bloody traitors. Maybe it works differently in politics but he betrayed the popular will which may take him the rest of his life to redeem.

Fredrick Awino

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