Deputy President William Ruto on Saturday morning posted a message on his official Twitter account congratulating Julius Mawathe and David Ochieng for winning the Embakasi South and Ugenya parliamentary by-elections respectively.
Mawathe, of Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper party, garnered 21,628 votes to defeat ODM’s Irshad Sumra who got 7,988 votes, while Ochieng (of little-known Movement for Democracy and Growth party – MDG) got 18,738 votes to beat Christopher Karan of ODM who got 14,507 votes.
But it’s the undertone of Ruto’s tweet that is a topic of conversation with many seeing it as a direct jab at the country’s political dynasties that have in the recent past been seen to contrive a scheme to prevent Ruto from ascending to the presidency in 2022.
In his tweet, Ruto hailed the two MPs-elect on their wins, thanking God for the victories and praising the “Hustler Nation” for supposedly upsetting the dynasties.
“CONGRATULATIONS Ochieng (Ugenya) & Mawathe (Embakasi) for your God given victory. Jameni wacheni MUNGU aitwe MUNGU. The hustler nation has spoken, the people have decided. GLORY TO THE ALMIGHTY GOD”, read Ruto’s tweet.
According to Ruto and his allies including Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi and Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, the wins signify the country’s tiredness with political dynasties and the birth of a hustler movement driven by the common mwananchi on the ground.
In the run-up to the 2022 elections, Ruto has sustained a commoner-style-of-politics that has seen him brand himself as a hustler born in a poor family of unknown parents and had to sell chicken to support himself and his family.
This narrative has evidently endeared Ruto to the majority of Kenyans who can relate to his story.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, ODM leader Raila Odinga, ANC party leader Musalia Mudavadi and Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, on the other hand, have been branded as dynastic figures whose fathers served in powerful government positions in the post-independent Kenya.
Uhuru’s father Jomo Kenyatta was Kenya’s first Prime Minister and later the first President, Raila’s father Jaramogi Oginga Odinga was Kenya’s first Vice President while Daniel Moi, the father of Gideon Moi, was Kenya’s third Vice President (after Joseph Murumbi) before ascending to the presidency, a position he held for 24 years.
Moses Mudavadi, Musalia’s father, was a powerful minister in Moi’s government and a close ally of the president. His power and influence placed him above other ministers in the pecking order with many seeing him as the unofficial Vice President.
With the exception of Gideon Moi, these “children of the dynasties” have also held powerful government positions at the executive level.
Mudavadi has been Kenya’s Vice President, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in several powerful ministries while Uhuru Kenyatta is currently Kenya’s 4th President, having also served as the country’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance in Kibaki’s government.
Raila Odinga became Kenya’s second Prime Minister in 2008 after the disputed 2007 presidential election. Prior to that, he was Minister for the powerful Energy docket and later the Roads and Public Works Ministry in Mwai Kibaki’s government. He is currently the High Representative for Infrastructure Development at the African Union Commission.
Gideon Moi has expressed interest in running for president in 2022, sparking the anti-dynasties movement spearheaded by Ruto and his allies.
The handshake between Raila and Uhuru on March 9, 2018, and separate private meetings by the two, and Mudavadi, with retired President Moi, added to the growing talks of a referendum and on-going war on corruption have been seen as a strategy aimed at stopping Ruto from becoming president. Ruto was last year blocked from seeing Moi even after arriving at his Kabarnet home.
According to observers, Uhuru has aligned himself more with Raila than Ruto in his second and last term in office with reports indicating that he might be contemplating endorsing someone other than his deputy for the presidency in 2022.
His allies including nominated MP Maina Kamanda and David Murathe who recently resigned from the party’s Vice President position have openly declared their opposition to Ruto’s presidential ambitions and formed a STOP RUTO movement to curtail his political prevalence.
Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru, another close ally of President Kenyatta, who was at on time seen as a possible running mate to Ruto in 2022, further epitomised Uhuru’s opposition to the Ruto’s forays when she publicly criticised the DP for engaging in early campaigns at a press conference for the launch of Embrace Women Building Bridges Initiative aimed at rallying women to support the Uhuru-Raila handshake.
Waiguru is one of the few Jubilee leaders in the Embrace Initiative seen as Raila’s campaign machination. Majority of the backers of the initiative are ODM women leaders including Gladys Wanga (Homabay Women Representative) and Likoni MP Mishi Mboko.
The initiative has been boycotted by all Ruto-allied women MPs including Waiguru’s political nemesis Purity Ngirici (Kirinyaga Women Representative), Laikipia Women Representative Cate Waruguru, Kandara MP Alice Wahome, Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa among others.
The Ugenya and Embakasi South by-elections were seen as a litmus test for Raila Odinga and a gauge of his popularity in the post-handshake era.
ODM leaders must now dust themselves off and prepare for the Wajir West by-election slated for April 25, 2019, where their candidate Mohamed Yussuf will be facing off with ODM-turned-Jubilee candidate Ahmed Kolosh, whose August 7 election win was annulled by the Supreme Court early this year over irregularities.
This will be the first time that ODM and Jubilee will be facing off in a political contest since the Uhuru-Raila handshake.
On Friday, President Uhuru Kenyatta hosted the Jubilee candidate at State House in Nairobi in a meeting also attended by the party’s leader in the National Assembly Aden Duale.