Analysis: Delicate Balance For President Uhuru As 2022 Political Re-Alignments Begin To Take Shape

President Of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta

Political leaders seeking to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2022 have started blowing their trumpets and consolidating their political bases in preparation for the epic showdown. The aspirants are also keen on forming alliances with like-minded leaders across the country to marshal the necessary support to propel them to power in the next General Election. At the heart of this power play and political jostling is the head of state, a man whose choice of a successor will have a great impact on how the 2022 politics will play out. Already, a host of leaders seeking to replace him are working closely with his government in a bid to build trust and perhaps win his support in 2022.

Uhuru Master spoke plan

As this plays out, Uhuru appears to be keenly studying the waves and currents while jealously guarding his cards close to his chest. His participation in uniting rival camps to work together ahead of 2022 has been deliberate, strategic and subtle. As city lawyer and Senior Counsel Ahmednasir Abdullah once put, Uhuru appears to have been privately promising to support each of his potential successors in 2022. “A president in the twilight of his last term is a usually lame duck, busy with housekeeping matters and gazing far into the horizon. But Uhuru in the act of deft political masterstroke occupies comfortably Kenya’s political center of gravity. Every other day he anoints Raila, Mudavadi, Musyoka, Gideon, Wetangula and whispers silent into their ears…”Raila, Mudavadi, Musyoka, Gideon, Wetangula..you are taking over in 2022 act Presidential..” Each of these noble gentlemen runs back to his handlers and whispers into their eardrums, “Uhuru has privately said it is me,” he said via his Twitter handle on March 9.

Repaying Moi’s debt

One of the possible scenarios in this power play, according to political observers, is Uhuru determination to Baringo senator Gideon Moi in power or close to power. In so doing, the president would be required to craft a super alliance that would propel the young Moi to the next cadre of leadership in the country. Uhuru attributes his successful political career to the late president Daniel Moi. The KANU supremo introduced Uhuru into politics in 1997 and held his hand through the murky waters until he rose through the ranks to become president in 2013. As such, Moi, in many ways, is considered to be the president’s political father, and many feel Uhuru is more indebted to the late president’s family than he is to any of his other allies. “Gideon Moi is a prince, and I can tell you power will be handed to him most likely in 2027. If Raila becomes president in 2022, he will serve for one term and pass the baton to Gideon, who will be in government already,” argued political analyst and scholar Professor Herman Manyora. To help Gideon climb up the political ladder, Uhuru might be compelled to work with either his deputy, William Ruto, or Raila Odinga. The two leaders have a massive following in the country and will, without doubt, be a force to reckon with in the next polls.

Impossible and impractical aspects

While political realities compel Uhuru to work with either Ruto or Raila to install his preferred regime in power easily, there are stubborn facts that water down this plan. For instance, if the president must leave Gideon close to power as projected by some political analysts, then working with Ruto is politically impractical considering they come from the same region and are both aiming at the top seat. One must be isolated, and in this case, Ruto will. The second scenario is putting Gideon in the same camp with Raila. This might work, and a host of analysts and Uhuru’s allies have hinted at having such a formation. Jubilee Party vice chairman David Murathe once said time was ripe for Raila to take over the mantle of leadership, albeit for five years, and pass the baton to Gideon. He stated the former premier would be “a caretaker president”. However, this alliance might not be well received by Kenyans in the wake of hustler versus dynasty discourse. Raila and Gideon are sons of Kenya’s first vice president and the country’s second president, respectively, and might face resistance on that account. Some state actors also feel the Opposition chief might be hesitant to hand over leadership to the young Moi in 2027, considering the many years he has fought to become president.

Uhuru’s alternative alliance

Perhaps on this account, Uhuru has brought on board a second layer of leaders consisting of Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi and Kalonzo Musyoka of Wiper Democratic Movement (WDM). The two former vice presidents are working closely with Gideon alongside Bungoma senator and FORD Kenya Party Leader Moses Wetangula. They are likely to serve as a fall back plan for state actors should it become completely impossible to work with Ruto or Raila. However, if this becomes the case, Uhuru will have to work on a strategic plan to ensure Ruto and Raila do not unite to face off with his team as that would be overwhelming. Already, political analysts have projected an easy ride to State House for either Ruto or Raila should the state front the Mudavadi-Kalonzo alliance. “Mudavadi, Kalonzo, Gideon and Wetangula alliance won’t beat William Ruto even if they are supported by Raila Odinga. In fact, Ruto will go on a holiday and return home to be sworn in as president,” said Manyora. But still, in circumstances where this alliance wins the presidency, either through the candidature of Mudavadi or Kalonzo, it might take Gideon much longer to ascend to power, considering his seniors are still energetic and might want to serve for two terms. To sidestep this long wait for Moi’s son to take over, Uhuru might be obliged to preside over Kalonzo and Mudavadi to back Gideon for the presidency in 2022, something that might not be easy to achieve.

The future of the Mountain

Besides this, there is the question of the future of the Mt Kenya region in the country’s leadership upon the exit of Uhuru. As the region’s de facto leader, the president will be required to give his people political direction before leaving office. As sections of leaders are angling to succeed him as regional kingpins and potential presidential candidates in 2022, others are positioning themselves strategically to be picked as running mates for a winning coalition. How the president will deal with these dilemmas and fix them to the satisfaction of his followers, state actors, region, allies and Kenya as a whole remains a riddle whose answer he is still guarding jealously.

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