Deputy President William Ruto has been shaping the 2022 political narrative by countering his opponents with alternative facts that have been gaining traction.
Armed with the gift of the gab, the second in command has been singlehandedly challenging the pro-handshake team with counter-arguments that have kept him and his 2022 presidential ambitions active for more than three years now.
Riding on hustler narrative
Ruto has been riding on the promise of serving the interests of the poor, the unemployed, and suffering Kenyans when elected in office.
He has managed to create a perception that the previous regimes have been serving the rich at the expense of the downtrodden.
The narrative has been warmly received by a majority of the young people across the country, who form a huge percentage of registered voters.
Although critics have accused him of fanning class violence, the DP has remained adamant that his approach is about creating equal opportunities for the poor without sidelining the rich or ‘dynasties’.
He has also successfully created a false narrative that he belongs to the class of the poor, having been a chicken seller at his tender age.
In his unrelenting quest to uplift the hustlers, the second in command has been vouching for an economic model that would invest money in pockets of low-income earners and small-medium enterprises (SMEs) instead of investing in established business ventures.
Ruto argues that the trickle-down economic model being used currently has contributed to unemployment and inequalities. According to him, time has come for leaders to adopt the bottom-up approach to deal sleaze the misgivings of unemployment and inequalities.
BBI not a priority
Ruto is the only top politician who has stood against the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) amendment bill of 2020.
While all his potential competitors for the top seat are championing its adoption, the DP has remained adamant that the bill is not a priority.
He has been linked to the legal suit challenging the legality of the proposal, which is currently before the Court of Appeal after being declared unconstitutional by the High Court.
Although he has rejected calls to lead the No campaign against the bill, Ruto has managed to convince a significant number of Kenyans to believe in his argument.
Tribalism versus Economy
For a long time, Kenyans have been decrying tribalism as the biggest hindrance to economic prosperity and political tranquillity.
One of the things that the BBI amendment bill seeks to address is tribalism in national leadership. The proposal, according to promoters, intends to create inclusivity and equal opportunities for all.
At one point, the president said only two tribes have led Kenya since independence, and that time was ripe for other tribes to be given a chance.
However, Ruto has lately been countering the narrative by arguing that Kenya’s biggest challenge is the economy and not tribalism.
According to him, an economy that works for all would sort out all other challenges that are affecting the country, including tribalism.
Although this is contested, Ruto’s argument is slowly gaining traction and finding a place in the hearts of his supporters.
Jubilee track record and handshake politics
While President Uhuru Kenyatta argues his administration has performed better in the second term than first term, Ruto holds a different view.
Speaking to KTN News last week, the second in command said the Jubilee government performed exemplary when he was driving the implementation of projects.
According to Ruto, Jubilee would have done much better in its second term had he remained in charge of supervising government projects.
“Maybe if I remained in charge as I did in the first time, the story would be different today,” he said.
While Uhuru, the president sees his handshake pact with Raila as an enabling factor that has contributed to his success in the second term, the DP sees it as Jubilee’s biggest undoing.
He argues the pact changed the government’s priorities from focusing on the Big Four agenda to attending to constitutional reforms.
These alternative narratives have placed the DP at the helm of Kenya’s politics and made him a vibrant and active presidential candidate.
So far, his potential opponents have done little to counter his arguments and might not find sufficient time to do so as 2022 is fast approaching.