Deputy President William Ruto’s chances of becoming the next president remain high despite opposition from sections of political leaders, a Radio Africa Group poll in Nairobi suggests.
The telephone poll conducted on Thursday and Friday indicates that a clear majority, 54 percent, believe Ruto is fit to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2022.
Six hundred registered voters in all 17 constituencies of the capital were interviewed. Nairobi is seen as the epicentre of Kenyan politics.
The report is likely to be music to the ears of the DP who is facing rebellion from within his own Jubilee Party and perceived lack of enthusiasm for his candidacy by President Kenyatta.
Ex-Jubilee vice-chairman David Murathe, a close Uhuru ally, has openly stated that Ruto is not qualified to occupy State House.
“He [Ruto] is in court with his lawyer Ahmednassir fighting the issue of the Weston [Hotel], for example. There are allegations of his involvement in the maize scandal where farmers in Rift Valley were shortchanged…and every time these things are pointing fingers at an individual as either the godfather or getting involved,” Murathe claimed on Sunday after his dramatic resignation.
According to the poll, 41 percent said Ruto is not fit to be Kenya’s fifth president.
Five percent of respondents said they were undecided on whether Ruto is suitable or not.
The poll had a +/- 3 percent margin of error. According to the poll, 53 percent of respondents said Uhuru will not renege on his public pledge to support Ruto in 2022.
Thirty-eight percent of the respondents, however, predicted the President would not back Ruto’s State House bid.
Nine percent said they are not sure which scenario will play out.
In an interesting twist, the poll indicates that a majority of Kenyans at 65 percent believe Murathe does not speak for the majority in Central Kenya.
Murathe has pledged to form a Stop Ruto movement, including leading a mass walkout from Jubilee.
Only 32 percent of respondents said Murathe was speaking for a majority in Central Kenya.
Sixty-three percent of those interviewed also supported Murathe’s resignation following his relentless onslaught against Ruto.
However, 32 percent said he ought to have remained in his party post.
Uhuru has been giving mixed signals about his commitment to support Ruto, amid claims that some Mount Kenya elites have been secretly gravitating towards ODM leader Raila Odinga and ANC boss Musalia Mudavadi.
In November last year, Uhuru gave the clearest hint that he may not support Ruto and declared that his choice for a successor will be a shocker.
“They think because Uhuru is going home in 2022, he will not have a word on what will happen. I am telling them when the right time comes, I will have something to say,” the President told a rally in Nyeri on November 1.
According to the poll, an overwhelming majority of 77 percent say Uhuru will have a major influence on who becomes president in 2022.
This means that whomever the President throws his weight behind would have a big advantage.
Twenty-one percent said, however, that a retiring Uhuru will have no influence whatsoever on who becomes the next occupant of State House.
Two percent said they do not know whether Uhuru would have any influence.
According to the poll, Ruto did not make a political blunder by abandoning the defunct URP party to form Jubilee. Sixty-two percent of those surveyed said Ruto’s move to fold his own political machine was not a mistake.
This week, many of Ruto’s allies have been crying foul, saying their counterparts in Uhuru’s former TNA party appear keen on shortchanging them.
The sentiments have been expressed by, among others, National Assembly Majority Whip Benjamin Washiali and Meru Senator Mithika Linturi.
“We sacrificed our parties and formed Jubilee. We dissolved our parties on the slogan Tuko Pamoja. But it appears we are not together. We want to get answers,” Washiali protested as the onslaught against Ruto intensified.
Only 36 percent of respondents said Ruto made a political blunder by accepting the Jubilee merger.
A majority of those polled said the troubled Jubilee Party will survive to the 2022 polls.
Thirty-five percent, however, said the party will disintegrate before the next election.
The poll strongly suggests that Nairobians believe Uhuru has not neglected Central Kenya in terms of development as alleged by some lawmakers.
Seventy-five percent said Central Kenya has not been marginalised, only 23 percent of the respondents said otherwise.
Seventy-five percent of Nairobians surveyed, however, said Central Kenya is demanding too much from the President.
Twenty-four percent said the region is not demanding anything out of the ordinary in development.
Despite the turmoil in the ruling party, Jubilee remains the most popular political outfit.
Forty-four percent of respondents said they feel closest to Jubilee.
In a possible warning signal to ODM, the poll suggests that the popularity of the once-dominant political outfit could be diminishing.
Only 15 percent of the respondent said they feel closest to ODM.
However, only one percent said they support Musalia Mudavadi’s ANC, Moses Wetang’ula’s Ford Kenya and Ekuro Aukot’s Third Way Alliance.