Bomet Governor Isaac Rutto is casting a wide net beyond the South Rift in a grassroots mobilisation as he plans the grand launch of his new party Chama Cha Mashinani.
The ex Council of Governors boss discussed his political strategy in an exclusive, wide-ranging Interview with the Star early this week in Nairobi.
He urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to tame the “loose tongue” of Deputy President William Ruto and said Mount Kenya will abandon the DP after 2017.
The governor, a fierce critic of the DP, is to launch his party in November.
“CCM wants to turn the attention of the ruling elite to the plight of the poor,” he said.
His mobilisation drive comes as Gideon Moi’s Kanu, its closest partner, intensifies its vote hunt in the Rift Valley.
There are fears in Jubilee Rutto-Moi stands to reap big, as Ruto’s URP will fold and merge with Jubilee. CCM and Kanu won’t fold.
Rutto denied he has only pitched camp in the South Rift, saying he has a extensive, grassroots charm offensive. “Because I am always in Bomet, people think I am there doing politics. No, that’s where I have a job to do. Otherwise,i n terms of politics, I am heavily in other areas,” he said.
On Thursday, Rutto toured Narok county, opening a CCM office in Murkan town. Over the weekend, he was in Isiolo and Samburu for a membership drive.
Rutto said CCM will campaign aggressively to bag many seats countrywide.
He declined to say whom he will support for President.
“As of now, our mind is not fixed on any presidential candidate. We want to see what they are offering,” he told the Star.
The governor said CCM shares opposition chief Raila Odinga’s view on a number of issues, especially strengthening devolution and promoting sweeping electoral reforms.
However, a political deal between them is not in the offing, Rutto said.
“I don’t have a problem with the former Prime Minister… as of now, I am in Chama Cha Mashinani, he is in Cord and ODM,” he said.
There is talk, however, Raila is crafting a new coalition, eyeing Ruto and Kanu chairman Moi. His own Cord coalition is divided, as co-principals Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang’ula both want to run for President.
In the interview, Rutto rebuked opposition leaders who resign ODM posts and leave the party. Some defected to Jubilee. He accused them of being bought.
He said Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba, Kisii Senator Chris Obure and former Cabinet minister Musikari Kombo have betrayed the opposition’s fight for change.
“What ideas did Namwamba discover, other than probably a briefcase or two? How can he complain he has not been given bullets?…Were the bullets delivered by Jubilee?” Rutto asked.
Rutto rubbished a recent Ipsos polls suggesting more than 50 percent of those interviewed don’t want Raila
to run for President — some want him to quit politics altogether, others want him to remain active but support another candidate for President.
The governor said the poll findings were engineered by Jubilee, designed to influence public perception and help rig the 2017 poll.
“I know there are people eager to steal election. They have stolen before, they can still steal. If you see them churning out these opinion polls, they are up to something. They want opinion polls to justify what they intend to do next year. Those are not genuine opinion polls,” he said.
Rutto also said Ruto is hurling insults at other leaders and “buying support” for President Kenyatta.
“The President is quiet. He feels good, as his deputy is moving across the country, abusing, cajoling and buying support for him,” the governor said.
“I don’t know whether he’s aware of this. If he is not, too bad. If he is aware, he owes us an explanation.”,”
The DP recently came under fire from some leaders after he accused Moi of kumangamanga na Waluhya (loitering with Luhyas) — an apparent reference to Gideon Moi backing Musalia Mudavadi in the last polls.
“I have nothing personal against him [Ruto] but he is increasingly becoming nauseating,” Governor Rutto said.
Rutto termed a mere daydream “of Jubilee sycophants” promises President Uhuru’s Central backyard will reciprocate and elect Ruto to State House in 2022.
Central Kenya has previously disowned signed MoUs with political players.
“When was it automatic [that Mount Kenya will support Ruto]?. It has never been automatic. It’s not even in any MoU. Other people have had written MoUs with them but they were never honoured as soon as elections were over. This one doesn’t have an MoU, not even a verbal agreement,” said the DP’s former ally.
Kibaki disowned an MoU he had signed with Raila during the 2002 polls. He is also said to have reneged on a promise to back Kalonzo in 2013.
Rutto himself faces a herculean task of being reelected in the face of Ruto’s onslaught.
On Saturday, Energy CS Charles Keter, DP Ruto’s closest ally, said his task is to ensure Rutto and Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony are voted out.
Rutto, a key figure in forming the Jubilee coalition, said Kenyans are fed up with tribal politics. Kikuyu and Kalenjin owe the country an apology, he said.
“They owe Kenyans an apology for all these messes persisting simply because the two large communities continue to coalesce and elbow out all other Kenyans,” the Bomet governor said.
“There are no clear-cut policy objectives, no real focus on how to get out of this economic morass. They just tell you about laptops, which are never arriving [a major shipment arrived last Friday] and the SGR in an ad hoc manner with a lot of fanfare,” he said.