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Ruto may be ready to dialogue
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|Ruto may be ready to dialogue by Kenyans247(1): Tue 27, October, 2020 01:20pm|
What you need to know:
DP Ruto has the option of leading the ‘No’ campaign or jumping aboard the train if his concerns are addressed.
Right now, the battle lines seem drawn with President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga leading the ‘Yes’ campaign and the DP at the head of the refuseniks.
The DP loves a good political fight, and is no doubt enjoying the adulation and ululations that greet his campaign tours.
Even as Deputy President William Ruto promised to ‘stop reggae’ just ahead of the Bomas of Kenya launch of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report, keen observers would have noted that his vow came with an escape clause.
Indeed, come the Bomas event for the initiative championed by President Kenyatta and Opposition Leader Raila Odinga, the DP took an early opportunity to debunk notions that he would automatically lead the ‘No’ troops once the referendum is called.
Instead, he emphasised demands for a robust debate towards consensus, using his turn on the microphone to defend his position, respond to numerous jibes from earlier speakers and highlight what he sees as shortcomings worth further discussion. He soldiered on as a crowd choreographed to voice only support for BBI grew restive, but had made his point.
DP Ruto has the option of leading the ‘No’ campaign or jumping aboard the train if his concerns are addressed. That is the subtle distinction between what the DP and his brigades are saying and the realpolitik that may come into play.
Right now, the battle lines seem drawn with President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga leading the ‘Yes’ campaign and the DP at the head of the refuseniks. But it’s not so clear-cut as the shrewd and wily operator is clearly giving himself wiggle room.
At first glance, he should be smelling blood. A concerted ‘No’ campaign could blast to smithereens proposals that have not been received enthusiastically by the voting public.
Steering rejection of BBI at the impending referendum would present a crushing victory for DP Ruto’s ‘Hustler Nation’ over the Uhuru-Raila ‘Dynasties’ and place him as an overwhelming front-runner to clinch the presidency at the 2022 elections.
On the other hand, a losing battle now would translate into a big blow to his 2022 ambitions. It would dent the confidence of those who have hitched their own prospects to his presidential bid.
But openly leading the ‘No’ campaign would also be tricky for the second-in-command. It would call into serious question his role in government and amplify calls for him to live up to his convictions and quit rather than to continue enjoying the perks of the Deputy President’s mansion.
The cunning politician will more likely take the opening offered by the promise that the BBI report is not cast in stone. As long as it is open to discussion, the DP is ideally placed to seize the role of honest broker.
Instead of shouting from the rooftops and exciting the disaffected and disillusioned masses with populist rhetoric and gestures, he can take the lead in offering cogent and reasoned proposals to improving the report, cutting out the fluff and ensuring it lives up to the original promise beyond obsession with creation of room for power-sharing deals.
Competition for power
True, the BBI report is far from perfect. It is underwhelming insofar as it only glosses over some of the key issues it was supposed to address in regard to ethnic competition for power, lopsided development, marginalised and dispossessed communities, economic and social inequalities and violent election cycles.
There are groups that are opposed to the report simply because they were brainwashed into hating Mr Odinga; some disillusioned because President Kenyatta did not reward them with goodies; and others against it simply because they felt left out of the process.
But there also many just unhappy that their genuine concerns were not properly addressed. This could be the big middle ready to engage and push their causes if only they were not so disjointed and lacking leadership.
That is the space the Deputy President could be moving to occupy, but that demands a wisdom which must disengage him from the noisy cheerleaders revelling in toxic politics.
The DP loves a good political fight, and is no doubt enjoying the adulation and ululations that greet his campaign tours. He would also know, however, that displays of affection can be transient.
Idle Kenyans love political drama and entertainment and will gather in multitudes wherever there is a free show. And they will regroup just as readily for the next politico who comes along.
As for the politicians and hangers-on pledging undying loyalty, the less said the better.
BBI presents the opportunity for Deputy President William Ruto to rise above the rabble-rouser and put on displays of solid leadership credentials.
The risk here is that he could end up being seen as having no clear position and earn the ‘chameleon’ or ‘watermelon’ tag that his predecessor at the Karen Road palace, Wiper Leader Kalonzo Musyoka, has never gotten over.
firstname.lastname@example.org www.gaitho.co.ke @MachariaGaitho
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