If you pick the voter register and results of the 2017 elections you will realize three things:
One; that Uhuru Kenyatta has influence in 11 counties (popularly known as Mt. Kenya region) which were his strong holds. They are Meru, Tharaka Nithi, Embu, Nyandarua, Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Murang’a, Kiambu, Laikipia, Nakuru with the addition of Nairobi where half of the voters/residence are Kikuyus. The 11 counties have a combined registered voters of 6.5 Million.
Two; that William Ruto has influence in 6 counties in the Riftvalley which are his strong holds (Kerichi, Bomet, Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo Marakwet, Nandi and Baringo). The 6 counties have a combined registered voters of 1.9 Million.
Three; that when Uhuru and Ruto mobilised their respective votes they gave Jubilee a head-start of 8.4 Million votes in what has now come to be known as TYRANNY OF NUMBERS.
In the last elections the votes were as follows:
Uhuru’s strong hold:
a) Kiambu County – 912,588
b) Nairobi County – 791,291
c) Nakuru County – 639,297
d) Muranga County – 498,248
e) Meru County – 482,580
f) Nyeri County – 389,410
g) Kirinyaga County – 297,652
h) Nyandarua County – 286,593
i) Embu County – 231,350
j) Laikipia County – 177,772
k) Tharaka County- 162,529
Total votes cast – 4,869,310
Ruto’s strong hold.
a) Kericho County – 272,975
b) Uasin Gishu County – 265,704
c) Nandi County – 235,243
d) Bomet County – 229,599
e) Baringo – 161,423
Total votes cast – 1,303,577
Total votes from the strong holds (1,303,577+4,869,310)= 6,172,887 votes
They say numbers don’t lie and based on numbers Ruto’s contribution to the formation of Jubilee was 23% while Uhuru’s contribution was 77% in terms of votes. In 2013 this 23% contribution gave him the deputy president and half the government.
However now Ruto wants to be the Presidential candidate. He has his 1.9M votes. But what can he offer the Mt Kenya region for ~70% – or their 4.9 Million votes?
This is the dilemma that William Ruto is facing. He knows that were he to negotiate with Uhuru on the same principles they used in 2013 then the demands for Mt. Kenya would be very high. But he himself set the precedent for how such negotiations go, and has benefitted from it.
But William Ruto needs to get at least the votes that Uhuru got to have a meaningful chance to make it to state house in 2022. Without Uhuru’s Mt. Kenya votes he knows he’s a non-starter in the 2022 race. (This is why he has made a lot more campaign trips to Mt. Kenya region than to any other region).
RUTO’s ANSWER TO HIS PROBLEM
So Ruto understands that if he allows Mt Kenya to negotiate with him like Uhuru did with him in 2013 he will not fully control government post-2022. But he does not want to ‘share’ government with anyone in 2022.
Being the smart guy that he is Ruto has decided to be ‘clever’. He has decided to side-step Uhuru and go directly to the region’s voters to get the votes directly. That way he will not have to negotiate anything National for the region as a whole. He can offer them ‘local’ promises one part of the region at a time, and even turn some sections of the region against others if he has to. This way Ruto will not have to offer anything national to the community as a bloc. He just needs to buy off a few of the region’s MCAs and MPs to sell his idea.
To further hedge his bets and raise his chances for success in this plan he is also facilitating these MCAs and MPs that he has bought from the region to initiate and cultivate an active grass-root-based rebellion against Uhuru Kenyatta’s leadership in the region using the ‘hustler-vs-dynasty’ narrative. In return he has promised these ‘leaders’ support in their re-elections in 2022.
Of course Ruto hopes Mt Kenya voters will not see through his plan and realize he’s actually just removing them from having a say in National politics.
Will he succeed?