In the count down to 2022, history appears to be repeating itself as Uhuru Kenyatta continues to cross swords with his deputy despite once being close buddies who won two fiercely contested elections in 2013-2017 with razor-thin margins
Nobody knows the real reason as to why President Daniel Moi chose Uhuru Kenyatta over his long-serving “loyal’ deputy of 11 years Prof George Saitoti as his heir in 2001. Prof. Saitoti, the mathematician genius had been plucked by president Moi from a lecturer room at the University of Nairobi to become Minister.
President Moi at one time pointed out in public that his DP George Saitoti was a “good friend” but he “could not be trusted with power” Moi snubbed his deputy in public as he introduced the then political greenhorn Uhuru Kenyatta. As he prepared to step down, the president who passed on February 2020, chose Uhuru Kenyatta and declared him heir apparent. Despite his impressive academic resume as a professor of mathematics, Saitoti became a KANU ‘ loyalist’, this many say is what made him serve the longest.
Compare him to current DP William Ruto, elected or appointed where does one draw the line between the boss and his deputy? Saitoti’s ‘fierce loyalty” was not enough for President Moi.
This is what Maasai and ODM leaders are now urging President Kenyatta to do. They say he should emulate his political mentor who fished him from a bank teller’s job turned him into an MD, MP and later a powerful local government minister, then heir apparent.
Just like the way Moi snubbed Saitoti, Uhuru keeps humiliating Ruto using cabinet secretaries like interior security minister Fred Mataingi and Mr Fix It PS Karanja Kibicho
In the count down to 2022, history appears to be repeating itself as Uhuru Kenyatta continues to cross swords with his deputy despite once being close buddies who won two fiercely contested elections in 2013-2017 with razor-thin margins.
Just like the way Moi snubbed Saitoti, Uhuru keeps humiliating Ruto using cabinet secretaries like interior security minister Fred Mataingi and Mr Fix It PS Karanja Kibicho. Before succeeding Kenyatta senior in 1978, Moi had also suffered wide-ranging frustrations from a Kiambu mafia that wanted to change the constitution so the VP would not automatically become president upon the death of the holder. They never succeeded. It’s not quite clear why the two former close allies had badly fallen out but as political scholars keep pointing out, politics is about “fluctuating interests” and has no permanent friends or enemies.
Indeed, East Africa’s history is replete with examples since the early years of pre-and post-independence. In Tanzania, founding president Mwalimu Julius Nyerere fell out with a close ally Oscar Kambona who fled to exile in Britain a few years after independence. In Uganda, prime minister Dr Apollo Milton Obote fell out with his pre-independence coalition partner King Sir Edward Mutesa in 1966 with the latter fleeing to the UK after a fierce battle in Kampala.
In Zambia founding President Kenneth fell out with a close ally Phiri with whom they had waged a fierce struggle for independence. In Congo, Moise Thsombe fell out with Patrice Lumumba in 1965 triggering a bitter civil war. In Kenya, Uhuru’s dad Jomo fell out badly with his pre-independent ally Jaramogi Oginga Odinga (Raila’s father) in 1966 despite the latter having played a key role in the release of Kenyatta from his Kapenguria jail.
The current Uhuru-Ruto constant on and off clash is therefore nothing new even as the DP vows that if he wins the top seat next year, he would end the culture of subjecting the country’s second in command to the agonising trauma of a “thankless office.”
But Ruto is well aware that the 2022 duel will be no walk in the park and he will need Moi’s cunning strategy of 1992 to deflate the growing storm posed by his challengers in the envisaged One Kenya Alliance (OKA)
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