Deputy President William Ruto will introduce the post of chief minister to accommodate political bigwigs in his camp if he wins next year, the Star can report.
The DP’s team is agreeable to a proposal to have former Agriculture Minister and TPS party leader Mwangi Kiunjiri as his running mate, though the matter has not been settled.
The DP has said he will run for President on the United Democratic Party after being shoved out of the ruling Jubilee Party.
It emerged that the DP is crafting his 2022 dream team, with various regional heavyweights in his hustler nation movement lobbying to catch his attention.
Ruto’s director of communication Emmanuel Talam said the DP’s attention is now on firming up his ‘hustlers economic blueprint’.
“Distribution and sharing of positions is none of his priority now. He is busy now working on an economic plan for the whole country. That is why he is engaging all leaders from the entire country on this journey,” Talam said.
Back to power-sharing, the Star has learnt the DP’s strategists have settled on a power-sharing formula to appease his supporters outside Rift Valley.
In the Ruto line-up, the hot contest is shaping up between Central, Western, Coast and Eastern regions that are eyeing the three top slots.
In his power plan, the chief minister job will be handed to Western in a plan intended to limit ODM leader Raila Odinga’s appeal.
Insiders reveal that Ruto is wooing at least one Nasa chief for wider appeal in Western.
“The chief minister position will be the key cog in the plan to accommodate more players at the top to ensure a national outlook,” a senior MP close to Ruto told the Star.
ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi and Ford Kenya boss Moses Wetang’ula are two Nasa principals from Western Kenya.
In Western, the DP allies in the region have been trying to woo outgoing Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya to team up with Ruto.
Analysts have argued that with Kenya’s voting pattern largely tribal, it would be critical for any presidential candidate to craft a power plan that is broadly representative.
The pro-Building Bridges Initiative process that Ruto opposed were pushing for a referendum to expand the Executive to accommodate the big boys.
However, a chief minister post does not require a referendum.
Beyond the chief minister position, the DP has decided to dangle the running mate carrot to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s populous Mt Kenya region.
That’s where Kiunjuri comes in.
The thorny issues is, however, yet to be settled with finality as Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria and Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua are said to be lobbying for the second-in-command slot.
The names of Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki and National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi have also been floated.
However, what could stand in the way of the two-term speaker is the fact that Chief Justice Martha Koome, a holder of a powerful position, is also from the Mt Kenya East region.
Kiunjuri is from Laikipia county, while Gachagua is from neighbouring Nyeri county—the home county of former President Mwai Kibaki.
Kuria is from Kiambu county that has produced both the founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and the current one, Uhuru.
Muturi, on the other hand, is from Embu county, part of Mt Kenya East that now strongly believes it is their turn to lead the larger Mt Kenya.
The DP’s camp believes that the Mt Kenya region will still vote for him, despite President Uhuru’s move to transform the handshake into a 2022 political deal with Raila.
On Tuesday, Kiunjuri said the leaders and residents of Mt Kenya will agree on one candidate.
“I have been a party leader and served in various Cabinet positions so I have what it takes not only to be Deputy President but even the President. But for now, I support the DP,” he said.
Kuria said if Ruto proposes him for the position, he will take it, saying he has the experience to serve the people of Kenya. He, however, added that what matters is the trust and confidence of the people.
“All that matters is the trust and support of the people. If you do not have it, that position becomes useless,” he told the Star on the phone.
According to projections based on the 2019 census, Mt Kenya counties would have 5.9 million voters, excluding the diaspora Nakuru county, which will have 1.3 million votes.
A substantial part of the region’s support would give Ruto a massive head-start given that his own Rift Valley backyard is projected to hit 2.9 million votes next year.
With Raila banking on Mt Kenya split to win big in his battle against Ruto, the DP has expanded his power-sharing plan to chip away the ODM support in Western.
The Coast and the Northern regions will be allocated the two speakers of Parliament as part of the plan to diminish Raila’s influence and consolidate Ruto’s support.
It is not clear, however, how the posts of National Assembly and Senate speakers will be shared by the two key regions, with their number of votes cast for Ruto likely to be the determining factor.
In the hierarchy of power and influence, the President comes first, followed by the Deputy President, then the speaker of the National Assembly and the Chief Justice.
Muturi, who was enthroned as the Mt Kenya spokesman, is the current National Assembly speaker, while former Bungoma Governor Kenneth Lusaka is in charge of the Senate.
The place of the speaker of the Senate is not well defined in the power arrangement in the 2010 Constitution. However, the legislative arm of government is seen to be co-shared between Senate and the National Assembly.
The Coast region, which clusters together Mombasa, Kilifi, Kwale, Tana River and Taita Taveta, could bag either the National Assembly or the Senate speaker.
However, Ukambani region, where Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka maintains a stranglehold, is said to be eyeing the same position.
Most of the governors who are serving their second and last terms in office and are members of the ‘hustler movement’ would be appointed to Cabinet in the Ruto plan.
The belief is that outgoing governors will give the Ruto government a national image.
Political analyst Philip Chebunet said the top positions will be shared according to the numbers each of the regions is likely to add to the basket.
The university lecturer told the Star in an interview that “apart from Ruto having firm support in his Rift Valley turf, he has made inroads in Western, Coast and parts of Nyanza and these regions should be rewarded.
“At the end of the day, winning an election is a game of numbers. The numbers cannot shy away from the fact that he must calculate his winning formula by considering the numbers of registered voters per county or region,” he said.
“Mt Kenya is still likely to produce Ruto’s running mate. Western is good but it is not as solid as Mt Kenya,” Chebunet said.
Laikipia Senator John Kinyua said the leaders from Mt Kenya will soon meet and weigh all the potential leaders for the running mate position, then settle on one.
Kinyua, however, supported Kiunjuri, saying he is not only experienced and unifying but also among the senior-most politicians in the region.
“When that time comes, we will speak in one voice as a region. But it is clear that Kiunjuri is the right man to fit into the position. He has vast experience spanning over 25 years that few politicians have in Mt Kenya,” he said.