Why President Ruto Rejected Cyril Ramaphosa As Lead Mediator Between Him And Raila Odinga

The behind-the-scene details geared towards the realization of the much-discussed peace deal between President William Ruto and Azimio leader Raila Odinga broke down last week due to differences over who should moderate the bipartisan talks, The Weekly Vision has learnt. 

Raila Odinga and South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa./Photo /Courtesy

According to sources, the Americans suggested the talks between Mr Odinga and President Ruto be mediated by South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa. President Ruto turned down Ramaphosa as the lead mediator. According to sources in Kenya Kwanza, Ruto’s disapproval of his South African counterpart is due to several reasons. First, he is aware that Ramaphosa has been supporting Raila’s presidential aspirations since 2017 and that the two have commercial ties. 

Azimio insiders have revealed that Ramaphosa has been a close friend and supporter of Raila for many years. Kenya Kwanza operatives now say that Ramaphosa hosted Raila at his home in Johannesburg in January 2023, demonstrating the tight relationship the two leaders had. Apart from that, another reason why President Ruto rejected President Ramaphosa, a man whose background in labour negotiations is well known, is a big mystery. But sources say it dates back to 2007/2008 post-election violence over disputed presidential elections between Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga, when former UN Secretary General Koffi Anana who had been seconded by the African Union to defuse tension between PNU and ODM, nominated Mr Ramaphosa as the lead mediator between Raila and Kibaki.  

However, he was turned back at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport by the Kibaki administration because his close links with Raila Odinga disqualified him from the role. As a leader of the second biggest economy in Africa, Ramaphosa is one of the most influential African Presidents. The fact that he was rejected by President Ruto comes as a double blow, just as the PNU government prevented him from even leaving Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in 2008 when the same thing happened.

Readers may recall that when Ramaphosa was rejected, William Ruto was a close Raila Odinga ally in ODM and was the PM-designate had Raila won the 2007 presidential election. What this therefore means is that Ruto was aware that Ramaphosa was a close Raila ally who was brought on board to take care of Odinga’s interest and ODM. Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi who was Raila’s Vice President designate was also privy to the discussions which led to the proposal of Ramaphosa being a lead negotiator in 2008.

National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetangula was then the Foreign affairs minister who wrote and signed a letter that was delivered to Ramaphosa at JKIA that his presence was not welcome in Kenya.  Considering that Ruto, Mudavadi and Wetangula were part of the 2018 negotiating team and were aware of Raila-Ramaphosa’s close ties, there was no way they could have allowed him to lead the proposed talks between Raila and Ruto. 

There are rumours and speculations that Ramaphosa was among the top financiers of Raila’s campaign kitty in the last general elections to the tune of hundreds of millions. Ramaphosa’s estimated net worth is in the region of R6.4 billion ($450 million) as of 2018.  

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