US president Donald Trump was today impeached in a vote that was followed globally, with social media and Youtube making the world a part of such a historic vote in real time. The charges Donald Trump has faced and the subsequent party line vote in the House of Representatives echoes familiar lines back home.
With a broken economy, Kenya heavily in debt, rampant joblessness, skyrocketing cost of living, Kenyans have been entertainment by only two versions of politics, an alleged fight against corruption and the culmination of the infamous handshake, the BBI report.
To better understand where am gonna go with this, let me give you a small background.
In 2007, Ruto and Raila were allies as the country went into elections. Ruto was more of Raila’s right hand man then as President Uhuru was then Kiabki’s right hand man. Coming out of that, the two were separately charged at the ICC for crimes against humanity. Among other charges, the ICC charged that the two planned, financed and somehow controlled the post elections violence.
This was a serious charge as you would expect and the world reacted reasonably so, until a PR firm got involved a political campaign was formed that made Uhuru and Ruto partners at the time. UhuRuto they became. The campaign cry was that the West was targeting African leaders and beyond their election, we saw Ruto charge up the infamous hustlers trip, a shuttle diplomacy across African countries to put pressure on the ICC to either drop the charges or stall them.
Finally, witness intimidation, recantation of testimonies and as recently revealed, mistakes by the Office of the Prosecutor at the ICC saw them all let go of the charges with the courts promising to ‘look them up’ if something ever came up.
Through their first term, Uhuru and Ruto were close. They matched their shirts and cross checked their speeches. They hated the opposition in equal measure and shared the same kind of insults targeting opposition figures. When scandals broke out, they spoke the same language, defended those they wanted to defend and agreed on those they let the public perceive justice being done.
This bond worked all the way through the tensions of the first elections and the immense stress of the second campaigns after NASA pulled out of the polls. Uhuru and Ruto remained two brothers fighting what they then alleged an alliance between the opposition and judiciary to deny the will of the people.
Trouble started after the handshake and for some reason, President Uhuru Kenyatta and then NASA leader Raila Odinga decided to walk into a room alone and decide what would be the best way to end a political stalemate that was threatening to throw the country overboard again.
At the time, talks of cession were very prominent. The country was divided between those who voted twice and those who who voted once. The IEBC tally seemed to have issues with the situation on the ground and for the first time, another president was sworn in in Kenya. A people’s president.
Coming out of the meeting into the infamous handshake, Uhuru and Raila were two different people. While just weeks back, one was a ‘mganga’ and the other a ‘dereva mlevi’ they came out of the meeting blood brothers. And that was it.
The deals President Uhuru had made with other leaders in the birth of TNA and the birth of Jubilee seemed to have been forgotten or cancelled. Likewise, commitments that NASA leader Raila had made with his other partners were reneged. Political alliances were reformed and those who did not shape up were shipped out.
Moses Wetangula was the first casualty in ODM who refused to shape up. He was stripped of his position and left out.
On Jubilee side, curiously, Ruto’s allies started getting beaten badly. His team of bloggers was the first to be dealt with, probably Raila had a fury about the lies the team were cooking from State House. Their access to State House, to the president, even to his social media accounts was revoked and their roles replaced. They were then shipped to the DP.
Ruto who was until then the ‘overseer’ of government projects was stripped of that role and replaced by ‘Super’ CS Fred Matiang’i. This was done very publicly to ensure he heard them loud and clear.
The handshake seemed to have pumped more energy into the president’s determination to stamp out corruption. A raft of investigations were started many of which would later target Ruto allies or perceived allies. Among the many who have so far been touched are Governor Waititu who has since been impeached, Governor Sonko, CS Rotich and others.
Now the message has been more than clear to the DP. The handshake is here to stay and the handshake cannot stay in the same room with Ruto.
Kenya’s impeachment process is fairly similar to the US. A member of parliament moves a motion, should a third of the members vote in support, it goes to the Senate. If a third of the Senate votes in support the president stands impeached and the Deputy President assumes office.
At some point, the DP’s handlers have tested the waters and realized like the Democrats are scared of an election with Trump, there is no way Ruto will survive the remaining term. The investigations into alleged cases of corruption are not going away and as time bids, it seems closer allies of Ruto are getting chopped. More critical is that strategic allies are getting chopped.
Recent Jubilee rallies held by the president and calls for meetings by the president have also proven that the incessant attacks against Ruto and the new dalliance with opposition chief Raila Odinga is not something all supporters of Jubilee agree with.
One would argue that DP Ruto controls more support from Jubilee and across other parties than both President Uhuru and Raila Odinga. Ruto has been able to put to his side many other elected politicians, some from the ODM Party.
To Ruto’s allies, the handshake is a coup to snatch the ‘rightfully’ promised commitment for political support by President Uhuru in the 2022 and 2027 polls. Such a threat would also extend to their own political survival post 2022.
If an MP were to move to impeach the president in Parliament, Uhuru would not be able to call on Ruto nor his men for support against the vote. And while you would expect such vote to be on real issues (though lets agree there are many real impeachable issues) the vote will end up being about money and power. Political survival post 2022.
You would expect Uhuru and Raila to rally support on their side. This would be putting Raila on the spot. Will he stand up to defend his brother on impeachable offences committed? This would be an interesting defense. Coming after the president rebuked Senators for showing up as legal defense for Governor Sonko. Will Raila defend the president if Ruto’s team were to put a serious case?
Without question, Ruto can put up numbers in both Parliament and Senate for impeachment.
Coming into the new year, DP William Ruto is looking at two options, another year of being attack, his allies being attacked and being backed into a corner or coming out of the woods finally.
If the handshake stays as is, the clear plot is to push Ruto out of the 2022 polls. As is, the DP knows he is clipped. He cannot launch any more projects. He cannot donate millions without scrutiny. He cannot chair cabinet meetings. DP Ruto is literally a lame-duck Deputy with a lot of legislative powers.
With the right case picking up in Parliament, Ruto would become the President of Kenya for the remaining term and in that, build his campaign strategy to retain the seat in 2022.