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Unlikely friends now in ‘hustler nation’ camp

By Anthony Mwangi
Friday, October 16th, 2020
DP William Ruto with ex-senator Boni Khalwale . Photo/PD/ZADOCK ANGIRA
In summary
    • Addressing leaders and Machakos residents during a past visit by President Uhuru Kenyatta, Kalonzo admitted that shifting of political allegiance was normal and in response to the realities of the day.
    • “People should learn from the political trends in the country. In politics, we only differ on ideologies,” said Kalonzo.

Deputy President (DP) William Ruto has attracted the most unlikely of allies to his camp by poaching some of his vicious critics in the past.

For a person with a Kanu background and no history of agitation for political reforms, Ruto has stirred debate by attracting a cast of civil society and leading intellectuals, notably, Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana, economist David Ndii and communications guru Barack Muluka.

US-based law scholar Makau Mutua recently confessed the DP had sent former Machakos Senator Johnstone Muthama to recruit him into the ‘hustler nation’ an overture he violently rebuffed.

Others who have embraced Ruto’s camp include former Mudavadi aide Eliud Owalo, former senators Boni Khalwale (Kakamega) and Hassan Omar (Mombasa).

It is noteworthy that some of the DP’s friends have in the past been very critical and even raised questions on his integrity accusing him of corruption.

Ndii, a Raila Odinga strategist in the 2017 elections was at the forefront, criticising the DP while Kibwana spent years in the trenches fighting for constitutional reforms, which Ruto has never been particularly enthusiastic about.

Simplistic conclusion

Kibwana at the weekend attended a church function in Machakos county graced by Ruto and defended the DP’s ‘hustler’ movement.

This was the second time the governor, who has declared his intention to seek the presidency in 2022, was attending a church event with the DP.

During the Machakos function, the governor asked Ruto to expand his ‘hustler’ conversation across the country.

“Let us stop cheating ourselves the ‘hustler’ narrative will not go anywhere because it is here to stay,” said Kibwana.

Yesterday, Kibwana who insisted he will be on the presidential ballot in 2022, defended his relationship with the DP.

“I will talk to every Kenyan. I don’t want to be in a position where I am told I can’t talk to so and so. That is limiting.

If you have rapport with a lot of leaders who are strong then you become a person that many people can listen to,” said Kibwana.

“We must be tolerant and stop simplistic conclusion that if you are seen with someone, it means you are ‘sleeping’ together. I respect all because they are leaders.”

Strong supporter

Muluka, who recently resigned as the Amani National Congress party secretary-general, has also dismissed those critical of his decision.

“I have gone to school, taken degrees... including a doctorate... It would be self-delusion to say I will not work for the second highest person in the country.

How many people are going to be called for that kind of mission?” he said at a TV show.

But PLO Lumumba faulted Muluka working for Ruto, comparing him to a ‘kinuka mito’ (someone whose is not loyal to any friend).

“It was in the public domain that he was in Nasa... he was with Kalonzo Musyoka... he was with Raila... he was the secretary general of ANC,” Lumumba said.

Makau has asked Ndii to reconsider his position but the economist says he moved to the DP’s corner because of what he described as the Jubilee government’s failure to address the economy. “I am pleased Ndii has come out of the closet and shown his true colours.

He has  been ducking for months. Several months ago, he attempted to convince the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) — that both the KHRC and civil society should work with Ruto,” Makau wrote in his newspaper column.

Muthama, a former strong supporter of Raila and Wiper party leader Kalonzo who has spent years criticising the Jubilee government, has now thrown his weight behind Ruto.

On the other side, Jubilee vice chairman David Murathe, Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru and former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth have shifted to Raila’s camp.

“Come 2022, it is either you are with Ruto or you are nowhere. And my people and I have never misled you,” said Muthama at a Ruto function last week.

In Raila’s camp, Murathe has publicly declared he will be backing the ODM leader in the next General Election.

Shifting allegiance

Khalwale says there are no permanent enemies in politics:  “It is true I was a tough critic of Ruto but I was doing my oversight work as an MP. All I said against Ruto is documented.

I questioned his involvement in the maize scandal, his choppers, the Auditor General did his work and answers given to my queries,” Khalwale says.

Political analyst Javas Bigambo says shifting allegiance is a principle in political interests.

Quoting former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger “There are no permanent friends or enemies in politics, only interests,” Bigambo says: “Politicians form alliances driven by tribal blocs, which are at times aimed at locking out friends to bring in enemies, to achieve particular interest among others.”