Why Ruto Wants Raila to Pick Kalonzo as Running Mate

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    Deputy President William Ruto (LEFT) and Wiper Leader Kalonzo Musyoka (RIGHT) at KICC, Nairobi, on December 10, 2019.
    William Ruto
  • Deputy President William Ruto and his allies have publicly campaigned for Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka to be former Prime Minister Raila Odinga's running mate.

    The support, which Kalonzo has since declared was unwarranted, has raised more questions than answers. Why would Ruto vouch for the former Vice President? Is Kalonzo a weak candidate to deputise the Azimio-One Kenya Coalition flag-bearer?

    According to political analyst Barack Muluka, Ruto was only trying to ruffle feathers within the Azimio camp, since he was certain that picking Kalonzo was not an option for the ODM leader. 

    Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya presidential aspirant Raila Odinga addressing the press at his Karen residence on Tuesday, May 10, 2022.jpg
    Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya presidential aspirant Raila Odinga addressing the press at his Karen residence on Tuesday, May 10, 2022.
    Raila Odinga

    Ruto Rooting for Kalonzo

    "Ruto knows that if Odinga settles for Kalonzo, then he can kiss the Mountain goodbye. We are talking about millions upon millions of votes, which will work in his favour. Raila must be wondering if that is what Kalonzo meant when he said he would be stupid to support him a second time," Muluka noted.

    Prof Gitile Naituli, a former commissioner with the National Cohesion and Integration Commission, NCIC,  agrees with Muluka. He opines that the DP did not care who Raila chose and was appealing to Kalonzo's supporters to shift their allegiance in case the former Vice President is not picked by Odinga.

    Naituli noted that unlike Ruto, who is at liberty to choose whoever he wants, the Orange Democratic Movement, (ODM) party leader may not enjoy the same freedom because of President Uhuru Kenyatta who is calling the shots in Azimio- a stance shared by Political Risk Analyst Dismas Mokua.

    "It is Raila who has the problem because there are two powers in Azmio. Already, we have seen Uhuru's might in the formation of the council: Jubilee took 7 slots while the remaining 5 were shared among the rest. He has also asked for 40 per cent of the government," Mokua stated.

    "Azimio La Umoja One Kenya Alliance is further complicated because of diverse and personal interests anchored in the three-legged stool."

    Game of Numbers

    Mokua described the selection of a running mate as a political wicked problem that Ruto and Raila needed to solve. He noted that both of them will be holding their cards close to their chests and bank on their opponent to make the wrong move.

    He opined that leaving out Kalonzo will be a blessing in disguise for the DP, who will quickly swing in to win over the 2 million-plus votes the Wiper leader claimed to bring to the table.

    "Kenya Kwanza hopes to tap into ethnic nationalism around Kalonzo’s core base besides having Kalonzo review his position within Azimio La Umoja One Kenya Alliance," the political risk analyst stated. 

    Offering a different opinion on the matter, Prof Naituli argued that Ruto may not need Kalonzo's vote as a whole and would be fine with a handful of votes from the Lower Eastern region

    Facing the Mountain

    The issue of picking a running mate from the Mount Kenya region remains a major a concern for both the Azimio and Kenya Kwanza leaders. This is mainly because for the first time in Kenya's political history, the vote-rich region has no strong presidential contender in a general election.

    Amani National Congress - ANC's Musalia Mudavadi and Kalonzo have been touted as possible running mates, with neither coming from the Central region.

    In Kenya Kwanza, Mathira Member of Parliament and a former aide of Kenyatta  Rigathi Gachagua, Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki, Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru and National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi are potential options for Ruto.

    Considering the Central factor, Odinga has four politicians lined up. Ex-Gatanga lawamker Peter Kenneth, Narc Kenya's Martha Karua, Murang'a Woman Rep Sabina Chege and Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya, have all been interviewed by the running mate selection panel. The Noah Wekesa-led team is set to send three names to Kenyatta and Odinga for consideration, before an announcement is made.

    Minority vs Majority

    Muluka noted that the decision for Ruto was simple - go with numbers. He added that the DP's best bet was Rigathi and not Kindiki.

    "I would advise the DP to pick Rigathi, he will mobilise the votes and bring the resources to the ticket. Put that together with what he has in Rift Valley, with what Mudavadi, Wetangula, Kingi and Mutua bring onboard and collect others from the country.

    "This should earn him between 56 to 58  per cent of the votes. Kindiki is a minority who comes from the minority region of the Mountain; I would give him a senior cabinet position in government," Muluka added.

    Prof Naituli on the other hand mooted that Ruto may choose between the Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi and the Tharaka Nithi senator.

    The academician insisted that the DP's hands were not tied unlike Raila, who may have to pick Sabina Chege, given the President's influence in Azimio. Muluka, however, holds that none of the female potential running mates would deliver the required votes.

    "Ruto already has 80 per cent votes, for him, the running mate is not the big deal. Odinga should choose Karua, even though he will lose the election, it will be in a dignified manner," Naituli added.

    "Sabina is a political mino and will not count for much. She relies on Uhuru's support, a retiring president in a region where Raila is not exactly popular. We all saw what happened with Karua in the campaigns," Muluka concluded.

    Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka meeting with the Azimio la Umoja Tuesday, May 10, 2022.
    Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka meeting with the Azimio la Umoja running mate selection panel on Tuesday, May 10, 2022.