By Special Correspondent,
November 26, 2017,
As President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta prepares to officially take over the office for his second and final term, his Jubilee homestead is a beehive of activities as calculative politicians angle themselves for positions of influence ahead of the next general elections.
While Uhuru’s focus would rightfully be on securing his legacy and probably dealing with how to unite a deeply divided nation following a controversial and bruising electioneering period, others within the Jubilee ranks have their eyes fixed on the 2022 elections and are already plotting on who and how the President will be replaced once he exits the seat in five year’s time.
The man believed to be at the center of the 2022 calculations is Uhuru’s Deputy, William Samoei Ruto, the man from Kamagut in Uasin Gishu County. A shrewd and scheming politician that can only be compared to former President Moi and his ally turned nemesis Raila Amollo Odinga who is currently leading an opposition onslaught on the Jubilee administration.
One telling Jubilee activity that could be a pointer to the machinations focusing on Uhuru succession is the recent military shake-up. Shrouded in mystery with key changes in the top ranks, a few Kenyans would have made note, were it not for the recent happenings in Zimbabwe.
A junior officer in the military who sought anonymity laughed off insinuations that the Uhuru government was jolted by the bloodless coup in Zimbabwe and opted to quietly effect certain changes in the military top ranks to send a message that it was in charge and would not entertain any thoughts of a Zimbabwe-like military behavior. “Uhuru cannot be compared to Mugabe, he is in charge of both the country and the military,” he said.
In the changes, Major-General Charles Gituai is now the general officer in charge of the Western Command. He replaced Maj- Gen George Owino, who will now be solely in charge at the Kenya Military Academy as the Commandant.
Colonel David Obonyo has replaced Col Joseph Owuoth as the in charge of Public Affairs at the Department of Defence headquarters in Nairobi. Owuoth served for barely three months. The holder of the office is the official spokesman of the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF). Owuoth’s next duty station was not immediately clear. In the run to the August 8th elections, he was at the center of social media rumors after word went out that he had been abducted, fired for appearing to oppose certain military positions.
Another front where the 2022 posturing is expected to play out is in the formation of the Uhuru Kenyatta’s second term cabinet. With Uhuru looking to secure his legacy and his Deputy looking to make sure he has his men and women close to him as he prepares for a stab at the position of Kenya’s next CEO, political analysts are waiting to see how the government formation plays out.
With more than 10 Cabinet Secretaries appearing to be on their way out of the cabinet, their impending replacement will be a delicate balancing act as Uhuru and Ruto seek to reward loyalists, secure Uhuru’s legacy and for Ruto, ensure he has people he can work with to see his presidential dream come true. Dan Kazungu of Mining, Rachel Omamo of Defence and Judy Wakhungu of Environment are said to be staring at the chopping board.
Others are Jacob Kaimenyi of Lands, Hassan Wario of Sports, Cleopa Mailu of Health and Agriculture’s Willy Bett. Those who are said to be safe are Amina Mohamed of Foreign Affairs, Najib Balala of Tourism, Eugine Wamalwa of Water and the Fred Matiangi, the super CS who has been handling two crucial dockets of Interior and Education. The rest of the CS’s have their fates hanging in the balance and are not sure what the second term of Uhuru holds for them.
William Ruto is expected to stamp his authority on the formation of the new look government as a reward for his loyalty to the President. If Uhuru lets him have his way, Kenyans should expect a team full of political connotations as the DP is known to have reached out to politicians from traditional opposition strongholds like Ukambani, Western, Coast, and Kisii regions.
Former Budalangi MP Ababu Namwamba, former Kilifi North MP Gideon Mungaro, Machakos Governor Dr. Alfred Mutua, Jubilee Secretary General Raphael Tuju and former ODM Youth leader Anthony Kibagendi are politicians that have angled themselves as Ruto’s loyalists and are expected to play a leading role in his quest for the top seat in 2022.
The DP is expecting to have 100% backing from Uhuru’s backyard of Central Kenya. However, he may not be guaranteed a smooth passage from that region as they appear to want to have a say on Uhuru’s succession even though they have promised to back Ruto. Recently, the wing appeared to suggest that they will choose one of them to be Ruto’s running mate, against common believe that Ruto would make such a choice himself.
With the heightened activities in NASA and the quiet 2022 maneuvers in the Jubilee homestead, Kenya may not fully set aside the electioneering mood just as yet.