Eugene Needs To Tread Carefully
Eugene Ludovick Wamalwa is clearly the man of the moment. He is at the centre of many swirling events from which he can reap big politically. But he could also fall thunderously with just one misstep, which is eminently probable. Just five months ago before he was elevated to minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs at the behest of Uhuru Knyatta, he looked every bit the underdog in his aspiration to become president.
He was the flower girl in the party of ICC suspects and was, together with Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, derided as a vulture waiting reap from the misfortune of others. But his appointment to a challenging Cabinet position added him the wind in his sails that yanked him to peerage with URP’s William Ruto. It gave him a platform to demonstrate that he is more than a political novice punching above his weight. So far, his report card should read above average.
Eugene’s elevation has had the instant effect of dimming Ruto and also giving him the means to move around. In place of his weak financial means he now simply rides on state facilities like the Vice-President, PM Odinga and deputy Prime Ministers Uhuru and Musalia Mudavadi to conduct his campaign in the guise of official duties. What’s more, he has the platform of a high profile ministry charged with the all-important implementation of the constitution.
But there is where it ends. His ascendance seems to be at great expense to the amorphous G7 alliance. Pretence aside, G7did not have a place for Eugene on the high table because he was always regarded as a junior partner in the pecking order. His elevation was a double-barreled plot by Uhuru to superintend over the government’s handling of the ICC process and dim Ruto’s star amid. It happened on the spur of simmering rivalry and cooling of relations between Uhuru and Ruto because of the latter’s unwillingness to play second fiddle to Uhuru.
Eugene’s appointment was designed to re-order the succession plot but it seems to be evolving into a partnership of sorts with Uhuru. While he was expected to be content with the ministerial position and reduced to doing the spadework for the Uhuru - Ruto ticket, Eugene is now solidly Uhuru’s preferred candidate should he not run. This has jolted Ruto’s wing, which has sensed an ulterior plot to impose Uhuru on him but which they know will not go down well with his Rift Valley supporters.
So Ruto has decided to concentrate on charting his own political path until circumstances again force him to work with Uhuru — preferably after the election. It was not lost on Ruto and his supporters that at the triumphant Uhuru Park rally upon return from The Hague last year, Uhuru was played up as the prince and Ruto as the privileged escort. And fact that central Kenya political parties have predictably began trooping to Uhuru, while other influential figures are lobbying for Musalia Mudavadi as the alternative is to Ruto the clearest indication of his eventual betrayal.
Thus, while the circumstances of the moment favour Eugene, it remains to be seen if he will take advantage to propel himself forward. So far, he appears content to be Uhuru’s running mate despite his insistence that he is still in the race to Sate House. Any appearance of a threat to his place by Uhuru’s side elicits instant reaction, especially if it is from western. But is that enough for a man who has lifted the aspirations of a whole community?
The Luhya (principally Bukusu) support he enjoys is premised upon his bid for State House. Yet many are not convinced about the seriousness and potential success of his bid and the question still lingers among many: to whom will he deliver them? Most of those who would support Eugene in western Kenya are inclined towards ODM’s Raila Odinga and much less to Musalia Mudavadi. Even fewer support Uhuru Kenyatta or William Ruto.
The moment Eugene confirms the widely held suspicion that he is out of the race, his support will varnish. He will cease to be an asset to any presidential aspirant and even his own political career will be in great jeopardy. Eugene’s dilemma is shared by many fringe candidates who are putting on brave faces to calm their apprehensive supporters. Even the main ones like Kalonzo, Ruto, and Martha Karua who are pressing on unflinchingly have their lonely reflection moments. But none, it seems has his future wrapped around the bosom of another at this point like Eugene.