Deputy President William Ruto entered the year 2018 on a comfortable political footing.
He had his sights on the 2022 presidential campaign, given his understanding with his boss – President Uhuru Kenyatta – and public pronouncements about his support in 2022.
Fast-forward to mid-2020 and every strategy Dr. Ruto had laid in place appears to come unstuck due to a confluence of factors well without his control. For starters, President Uhuru Kenyatta appears to have changed his mind about supporting his deputy for the big post in 2022. His close ally David Murathe has made no secret that there is no love lost between President Kenyatta and his deputy.
The Covid-19 pandemic came to disrupt the DP’s strategy as they were all based on forming and strengthening direct linkages with voters. But given the facts, direct outreach would mean meetings which would violate social gathering rules. It has contained him mostly to his Karen home in contrast with the days when he could show up at a rural kiosk for a cup of hot tea with locals and attend numerous church fund-raising meetings.
By contrast, his detractors have used the moment to move major political chess pieces inside Parliament to ensure that he has no grip. Following the dramatic changes in parliamentary leadership to pave for two major political events – the introduction of the BBI report and the reconstitution of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission – Dr. Ruto played a humility card.
“With the changes in Parliamentary leadership, including committee membership & leadership, now concluded, I urge all MPs NOT to be divided but work TOGETHER in serving the PEOPLE. Col.3:23, Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for God, not human masters,” the DP tweeted.
In the meantime, he has occasionally been hosting small groups of youth at his Karen residence to “boost their hustle” and keep his candle in the public heart alive until he can return to the stumps where he thrives on political rhetoric.
Some commentators on social media have urged the Deputy President to resign from his position and form an outfit to angle for his 2022 political ambitions. However, his ardent supporters are of the view that he should stay put, continue enjoying the trappings of his position for as long as he can.
Unless the DP were to resign, the only other option of removing him from the perch is for Parliament to fire him through an impeachment process under the provisions of the law.
According to the Constitution, the Deputy President may be removed from office,
(a) On the ground of physical or mental incapacity to perform the functions of the office; or
(b) On impeachment;
· On the ground of a gross violation of a provision of this Constitution or any other law;
· Where there are serious reasons to believe that the Deputy President has committed a crime under national or international law; or
· For gross misconduct.
Attaining the necessary numbers in both houses of Parliament might be the tallest order. Therefore, Dr. Ruto can hang on to hope that the Covid-19 environment will soon change to allow him to apply his refined positioning strategies for the 2022 contest.