Isaac Ruto and Kipchumba Murkomen are polar opposites; Ruto cut his teeth under KANU, and he comes off as abrasive. Murkomen on the other hand, is amiable and a well-spoken lawyer. Whereas one is a bare knuckle party operative, the other is a smooth, sleek professional. But both belong to William Ruto‘s United Republican Party (URP). Some even argue the two are William Ruto’s brain trust.
Both I. Ruto and Murkomen have come out strongly in favor of devolution. Remarkably, both have come under sustained attacks, not least from their party, with some calling for their expulsion from the party for undermining the party leadership, and by extension, the Jubilee government. What doesn’t add up, at least rhetorically, is that the jubilee alliance (URP and The Party of National Unity- TNA) has incessantly said, devolution is not a choice, it has to be implemented at any cost. But why are Senator Murkomen and Governor I. Ruto hounded for their steadfast support of the same?
The accusation leveled against both is that they have their eyes firmly fixed on the next elections. Their detractors reckon both are positioning themselves as an alternative to William Ruto.
I have two theories for the state of play; one, Murkomen and I. Ruto are speaking for William Ruto. It is an open secret the TNA is not thrilled with devolution despite pretension to the contrary- there is a long history to that. But the Ruto’s who are KANU 2.0 know how to fight such a fight because they are, after all, Moi’s protégées – the grand spin master. They are therefore hitting the TNA where it is not comfortable – devolution. This move will achieve the dual purpose, a) deflecting the spotlight away from Ruto who has been buffeted with a series of scandals since coming into the office few months ago; b) prepare the URP for the next elections as the defenders of devolution which has plenty of resonance with most Kenyans.
Here is a revealing debate between Duale and Ruto, both URP members
The second theory is this is an open season of rebellion within URP. And W. Ruto is facing an internal revolt. URP, just like Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) before it is a big umbrella- it brought politicians on board from a broad spectrum. This naturally means competing and sometimes overlapping interests. Unlike the TNA which is run like a mean machine- the TNA members are largely drawn from a single ethnic group.
If this theory holds, Murkomen and I. Ruto are just William Ruto’s good students; wrecking the party from within just the way he did to ODM. Murkomen and I.Ruto know the ICC cases against Ruto are likely to take a huge chunk of his time. And as young, popular and clever politicians they are positioning themselves as his political heirs in the event the cases go against him, in the Machiavellian world of politics, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure
Whichever the case, the overarching reality is that implementation of devolution needs statesmanship from the politicians- which is in short supply in contemporary Kenya, and eternal vigilance from the citizens, who sadly attach a higher premium to ethnic loyalty than anything else.