While this year’s State House contest pits Jubilee Party’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and his main rival, Raila Odinga of the National Super Alliance (Nasa), key politicians are readying themselves for the 2022 election when the President will not be vying.
The issue has been a hot topic on the campaign trail informing some of the alliances formed ahead of the August 8 poll. Already, Deputy President William Ruto has a head start of flying the Jubilee flag thanks to pact reached ahead of the last election.
In Nasa, Raila has promised to back his running mate, Kalonzo Musyoka, who sacrificed his presidential ambitions in 2013 and this year in his favour.
However, this has not stopped Uhuru and Ruto from chiding the former vice president, telling him during a recent campaign tour of the Ukambani region that he is more assured to winning in 2022 under a Ruto ticket. “Mwambie awachane na huyo jamaa was vitendawili. Anapotezwa. Akuje tufanye kazi na hoja tuletee wakenya maji, tuwaunganishie stima, mimi nikimaliza miaka mitano naenda nyumbani. Akuje washikane na Ruto waongee ya hiyo mbele… (Tell him to abandon the man of riddles. He is being wasted.
He should come we work for Kenyans to deliver water and electricity. After five years, I would be exiting. He should work with Ruto to chart their political future,” he told a recent Jubilee rally. In an interview with Citizen Radio on Tuesday, he repeated the same overtures, saying: Personally, I don’t have any problem with my brother Kalonzo Musyoka.
I know he is a gentleman and that is why am requesting him not to look at the past but where we are going. I urge him to come and join DP Ruto so that they can continue with transforming lives of 40 million Kenyans in 2022 onwards.”
This, despite Kalonzo laughing off his earlier call. But by reaching out to Kalonzo, Uhuru appears keen to loosen Raila and Nasa’s hold on the Kamba Republic by raising the possibility of a Ruto-Kalonzo or Kalonzo-Ruto ticket in 2022. For instance, having ran for the presidency once and sacrificed his ambitions twice, will Kalonzo agree to play second fiddle again?
For now, with the Ruto candidature all but assured in Jubilee, observers will be watching who he props up as his running mate. Kigumo MP Jamleck Kamau was initially seen as his possible running mate but his loss in the race for Murang’a governor has dented his chances.
An early front runner, Tharaka Nithi Senator Kindiki Kithure has since fizzled out and with Meru Governor Peter Munya also eyeing a 2022 bid, his chances are complicated. Munya has announced that he will be running for State House but pundits feel he stands a better chance as a running mate.
According to Munya, it is time for politicians from Central Kenya and Rift Valley, which have produced all of Kenya’s four presidents, to support a candidate from Meru to reciprocate past support.
“The larger Meru has never had an opportunity to field and support their own presidential candidate but we have been supporting our brothers from Central and Rift Valley. It is their time to support us in our 2022 bid,” Governor Munya recently said.
Tigania West MP David Kariithi has since suggested Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, who also says he will be on the ballot, as Munya’s presidential running mate in 2022. The younger Moi has been a sharp critic of the DP and has vowed to frustrate his presidential ambitions.
Though he is backing Uhuru’s candidature in this year’s election, he has maintained he wants nothing to do with Ruto, who has twice been heckled in his Baringo backyard.
The younger Moi is believed to have agreed to support Uhuru after his mother, former First Lady Mama Ngina Kenyatta, visited former President Moi at his Kabarak home.
Nairobi gubernatorial candidate Peter Kenneth has also been mentioned as a potential running mate in 2022. However, he has frosty relations with Ruto, which makes a potential deal to be his running mate complicated.
Kenneth’s decision to vie as an independent candidate was informed by a feeling that Ruto favoured Senator Mike Sonko to clinch the Jubilee ticket as he sees him as a potential threat in 2022.
Kiambu governor William Kabogo stirred the waters when he said that Central Kenya’s support to a Ruto candidature is not guaranteed and there those who say the region may consider other options in the Uhuru succession after his second term if he wins this year’s election.
As a former president, Uhuru will not have the influence to sway the region’s votes in Ruto’s direction. Most politicians from the region, who lost in the Jubilee nominations, claim the DP engineered their ouster in order to consolidate his support ahead of 2022.
They are vying as independents and have formed a powerful lobby chaired by Kabogo, which could be influential after the August elections. In Nasa, Kalonzo has already declared that he would settle on Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto as his running mate. But as they say, a day is a long time in politics and new alliances could emerge.