Ex-Uhuru, Raila men lead Ruto crack team
- Mt Kenya, President Kenyatta’s restive political bastion, is the DP’s biggest target.
- he is spending time and resources wooing the base that voted for the joint ticket of President Kenyatta and himself almost to a man in 2013 and 2017.
- The DP’s camp opened the office parallel to the Jubilee Party’s Pangani-based headquarters as a show of defiance.
Deputy President William Ruto is banking on lead campaigners of President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga in the 2017 elections to shore up his own 2022 presidential offensive.
It has emerged that former Senators Johnson Muthama and Boni Khalwale, who played key roles in 2017 presidential campaign for Nasa flag-bearers, Mr Odinga and Mr Kalonzo Musyoka, as well as Hassan Omar, have been tasked with the DP’s sensitive offensives.
Mr Muthama and Dr Khalwale sat in the Nasa National Coordinating Committee, the second top-most decision making organ in the coalition that was also co-chaired by Senator James Orengo, and which was tasked with the day-to-day running of Mr Odinga’s campaign.
Dr Ruto is also said to have reached out to President Kenyatta’s 2017 election chief agent and former Energy Cabinet Secretary Davis Chirchir.
The team that Mr Chirchir, a former electoral commission official, leads is expected to come up with a manifesto and other technical aspects of the campaign, including the ICT infrastructure — a critical aspect in the country’s increasingly electronic election.
Also central to the DP’s plans and strategy is his chief of staff Ken Osinde, a former Kenyan ambassador to Germany, and his secretary of coordination Abdul Mwasserah, who served as provincial commissioner in North Eastern and Western provinces.
They are both said to be useful additions not just as trusted lieutenants and staff, but for their expertise in coordination and strategy — key assets in any campaign.
Mr Muthama was a strong backer of the Raila-Kalonzo ticket in 2013 and 2017, and he is said to have been one of the key financiers of the opposition campaign.
The former Machakos senator recently had a public spat with Mr Kalonzo over his supposed role in the former vice-president’s 2017 campaign negotiations.
Mr Muthama, Mr Omar and Dr Khalwale have taken the role of Dr Ruto’s defenders with brazen statements that most elected leaders in the DP’s camp might fear talking about.
“Since we are not elected leaders and we do not have any appointed office, we don’t have the extra baggage that the holders of those officers have in a regime that has gone out to punish anyone seen to support the DP. That then allows us to talk on sensitive issues without having to fear what has become a very vindictive government,” Dr Khalwale said when asked about their role in the DP’s campaign.
Mr Khalwale and Mr Omar lost their bids for Kakamega and Mombasa governorship, respectively, in 2017 in an election that Mr Muthama did not participate in as his differences with Mr Kalonzo began to unravel.
The DP has complained several times that his allies are being threatened with DCI and anti-corruption agency investigations or tax demands from the Kenya Revenue Authority, every time they are seen with him. At the same time, Dr Ruto’s campaign is focusing on regional networks in a strategy that will see politicians, clergy and youth leaders deployed to appeal to small focus groups.
The strategy to deploy grassroots mobilisers in addition to the DP’s own frequent visits targets Coast, Western, Gusii and Maa regions — areas his campaigners consider to be either leaning towards him or have the potential to flip.
Mt Kenya, President Kenyatta’s restive political bastion, is the DP’s biggest target, and going by the delegations he has hosted in his homes in Eldoret and Nairobi, he is spending time and resources wooing the base that voted for the joint ticket of President Kenyatta and himself almost to a man in 2013 and 2017.
“Standing in the way of a Kenyatta succeeding a Kenyatta is Deputy President William Ruto. Contradicting our conventional ethnic sensibilities, William Ruto has boggling and overwhelming support over Uhuru in the Mt Kenya region,” Mr Muthama, Mr Omar, and Dr Khalwale said in a statement in March.
Youthful MPs led by Lang’ata’s Nixon Korir are working from Kilimani-based Jubilee Asili Centre, which will serve as the DP’s presidential campaign nerve centre.
The DP’s camp opened the office parallel to the Jubilee Party’s Pangani-based headquarters as a show of defiance. To complement efforts by the technocrats, Jubilee Party deputy Secretary-General Caleb Kositany and former Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen will lead the troops in the National Assembly and Senate, respectively. They are tasked with not only mobilising support in the House, but also coordinating responses and strategy on the national front.
“Those who think that Ruto is alone are very mistaken. He is not alone. I want to tell Kenyans that Ruto is not alone. He is not isolated,” Mr Muthama told the Nation.
“Post-coronavirus, we will put our best foot forward to market him to Kenyans.”