OPINION: Who would be Kenya’s first Madam Deputy President?

OPINION: Who would be Kenya’s first Madam Deputy President?

State House, Nairobi. PHOTO| COURTESY

  • What Kenya needs is a gracious Deputy who will step up when needed and equally play the best supporting role as the job dictates. 

By Mike Mwaura

With the recent revelation that Kamala Harris temporarily held power as the Leader of the Free World this past week as her boss, President Joe Biden went under for a medical procedure, is it time for Kenya to consider the possibility of a Madam DP for the next government?

What does it take to be the first female Deputy President?

Based on past office predecessor success stories, those who served their full term in office without facing the sack; Daniel Arap Moi under Jomo Kenyatta, Moody Awori under Mwai Kibaki and the 1st term of the current Deputy President under Uhuru Kenyatta, there are key factors we may have to consider.

We can’t judge the Deputy/Vice President of a regime without analyzing the Head of State of the time.

The first Kenyatta was known to be a fiery yet accommodating leader, it was thus in the favour of his then Vice, Daniel Arap Moi to lay low, be seen only when needed and to speak only what the President approved. His time in office led to his quick accession to the President’s office with his boss’s unwavering support.

Moody Awori, in accordance with his autobiography, Riding on a Tiger, stated that one of the reasons he was chosen is that he didn’t come across as a political threat to the incumbent president.

As for the current Deputy, William Ruto, his grasp of the vote-rich, Rift Valley province + cordial and respectful relationship with the President, even in times of differing views, is something to be noted.

The current dynamics have changed in that, as much as the Deputy is under the President, they are on a joint ticket and cannot be dismissed as in the past. Equally so, they must bring in muscle to the ticket in terms of regional votes as well as other complementary strengths.

This is a model not only true in Kenya but also other established democracies such as The United States. Kamala hailed from California and carried 55 electoral votes, a sure game-changer towards the final needed 270 votes needed to win the election. She was on a joint ticket with Joe Biden who in 2008 was, in turn, running as the deputy to Barack Obama.

What Joe Bidden lacked in electoral college votes, he made up for in vast experience and goodwill across a bipartisan house. A suitable balance to Obama.

It is clear that the President and his would-be Deputy cannot hail from the same region. It also goes without saying that they must both be strong leaders and bring their own weight to the table. The next President needs a reliable Deputy who can execute delegated tasks, represent the office as well as bring a formidable wealth of knowledge to the cabinet.

The visible front runners are Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru, Former Justice Minister Martha Karua as well as Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu. Each have their strengths and flaws but do they have what it takes to be a diligent number 2?

One who will take a respectful step behind the President, will not challenge him for power and will not be a tired old guard there to serve as a flower girl but one to provide wisdom and insight in times of economic, governance and political crisis.

The current 2022 election cycle has been aptly framed as an Economic revolution and not a political business as usual electioneering. Hypothetically, of the top 3 front runners, one has the edge over the others, she may be the least experienced in politics but definitely of the greatest value politically and in matters economics.

What Kenya needs is a gracious Deputy who will step up when needed and equally play the best supporting role as the job dictates. 

Mike Mwaura is a political analyst and commentator on current affairs

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