It is an arrogance that belies the truth behind it, but Martha Karua is right. If Uhuru Kenyatta is unable to stand on his own two feet and face her in an equal challenge, there is no reason why she should acknowledge his presence in the political arena. In Central Kenya, the House of Mumbi is being rend asunder by the political forces that are determined to anoint Uhuru Kenyatta as the Chosen One to lead them to political victory over the Prime Minister. In his way stand Martha Karua, possibly Peter Kenneth, and despite his roots in the Rift Valley, Prof. George Saitoti. Mr. Kenyatta has demonstrated that he does not appreciate the place he occupies in Central Kenya politics, holding firmly to the coat-tails of the likes of John Michuki, Mwai Kibaki and the rabble-rousers egging him on in his quest to be Kenya's fourth President. He is the heir to a political legacy that stretches back to the bad old days of colonial rule and yet he behaves as if he is a Johnny-come-lately, incapable of articulating a thought that is his very own. He would make a terrible President of the Second Republic.
Mr. Kenyatta's allies in the inaptly named KKK Alliance are a pair of chancers whom Kenyans would be well rid of. Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka has made a career of fence-sitting and betrayal that is unlike in the worlds annals of political action. Since his start in 1985, he made a career of defending the image of President Moi and his regime, rising through the party ranks and holding positions in government that should have guaranteed that the people of Mwingi enjoyed the best in terms of government largesse. Instead, Mwingi is a picture of abject despair and poverty, where men and women must travel inordinate distances to access basic healthcare services or find drinking water. Hunger stalks the land and children, the young and the old are dying a slow and painful death. Yet, Mr. Musyoka imagines that his record in government, serving and defending two presidents, is enough to elevate him to the ranks of statesmen and women of the world. His very nature would doom any presidency in which he was the man in charge.
William Ruto, the embattled former Minister for Higher Education, on the other hand, has made a career of spotting opportunities and exploiting them to his advantage. In 1992, he took advantage of the YK'92 machinery to make a name for himself. In 2002, he saw the way the wind was blowing and abandoned the KANU ship of state for the uncertainty of the NARC revolution and emerged unscathed and even more popular. In 2005, he joined Raila Odinga in opposing the Wako Draft and the Orange Democratic Movement was born. In 2007, he stood steadfast at Raila Odinga's side and was rewarded with a Cabinet position that guaranteed he would have a voice in government at all times. Now, he has jumped ship again, spotting another opportunity in cutting the Prime Minister down to size and ensuring that he never gets to sit in State House. He is the quintessential political operator and his opponents underestimate him at their own risk. A Ruto presidency would be a site to see and it is unclear whether he is cut from the same cloth as President Moi or he is an operator par excellence, his own man. While his troubles in the Anti-corruption Court and the ICC are all the rage among the commentariat, it is yet to be seen that he is defeated and on the back-foot. Mr. Ruto is the only one among the three who has the capacity and capability to bring the war to Mr. Odinga's doorstep.
Whatever else prevails, and until Mr. Ruto is shipped off to The Hague in hand-cuffs, the 2012 battle will be between him and the Prime Minister. 2007/08 was billed as the war between the Kalenjin Nation and the House of Mumbi and the House of Mumbi came out the sorrier and poorer. That Mr. Ruto has managed to create the impression that it is all the Prime Minister's fault that IDPs still languish in camps us a testament to his political skills. That the Mau Rehabilitation Programme has come to a screeching halt is proof of the power he wields in President Kibaki's government. That Kalonzo is busily spearheading the diplomatic efforts to defer Kenya's case at The Hague for a year is proof that he understands the fears ad jealousies that motivate Mr. Odinga's other opponents. Mr. Ruto is slowly gaining a reputation similar to that of President Moi's, capable of seeing far like a giraffe, and the adaptability to change his stripes whenever his career is threatened with extinction. Even outside the Cabinet, he continues to exercise the minds of his opponents whenever he opens his mouth. The political evolution of Mr. Ruto is a sight to behold.
Prime Minister Odinga has had an interesting political career. President Moi detained him on numerous occasions, yet he stuck a compromise with the former president and joined his Cabinet. He had always wanted to be president, but in order to bring down the KANU system, he endorsed Mwai Kibaki in 2002 and saw the end of KANU as a political power. Even when he was betrayed by the NARC regime in 2003, he still managed to present a show of strength and managed to kill off the much despised Wako Draft. In 2007 he was cheated of victory and yet he now shares power in an uneasy coalition with Mwai Kibaki. Mr. Odinga's popularity cuts across ethnic borders and economic classes. He is just as popular in Luo Nyanza as he is in the slums of our teeming metropolises and in the boardrooms of corporate Kenya. The 2012 contest is his to lose.
Of course it could all go pear-shaped in 2012. If Mwai Kibaki, who still commands the armed forces and the security services, decided to hang on despite the Constitution, Kenya would be plunged into a period of turmoil and anarchy. While he has indicated that he will hand over power peacefully in 2012, the events of 2007 and 2008 must give us pause and consider that he may have such great animus against his Prime Minister that he may feel compelled to hang on to power in order to prevent the PM's rise. The story of Africa is the story of presidents who need to be pushed out by the masses and Mwai Kibaki may yet prove that he has form too. So while we keep an eye on the Raila-Ruto contest, let us not forget that This Is Africa!