Ruto’s hand in Jubilee polls stirs fury in Uhuru strongholds
Reports of DP William Ruto’s alleged underhand intervention in Jubilee nominations have roiled the ruling party as President Uhuru Kenyatta faces an epic duel on August 8.
Top politicians, especially in Uhuru’s Mount Kenya turf, say Ruto edged or muscled them and others out in favour of his own line-up — with his eye on State House in 2022.
They speak of a mailed fist in a velvet glove — and a mailed fist when necessary.
For example, failed Kajiado Governor aspirant Tarayia ole Kores directly named Ruto in his loss. Kores said Ruto urged him “many times” to settle for the Senate instead of running against former Interior CS Joseph ole Lenku. He refused.
“I told him the position of senator was intact with Mositet and there was no way I could oppose my friend. He promised to show me fire, and I have realised what he meant. He [Ruto] interfered with Kajiado nominations,” Kores told the Star recently.
Kajiado Senator Peter Mositet concurred.
Yesterday, Senator Paul Njoroge hit out at Ruto and accused him of systematically locking out Central and Rift Valley politicians whom he perceives to oppose his 2022 presidential ambitions.
In a blistering statement, Njoroge told the DP Central Kenya was rethinking its decision to support him for the top job.
“We saw that senior politicians from Central and Rift Valley who opposed Ruto were rigged out of Jubilee primaries as part of the ongoing plan,” Njoroge said.
Ruto says nominations were aboveboard and losers are using him as a scapegoat.
“I don’t understand why people are obsessed with 2022 while we are heading to 2017. If I were in the business of meddling, I would have helped the characters in my office or my friends [who lost],” Ruto said on Tuesday last week.
However, multiple interviews by the Star paint a picture of a bitter Central Kenya, only restrained from speaking out by fears that public disapproval of the DP could hurt Uhuru.
“You look at the nomination results and many of those allied to Uhuru lost. The level of bitterness sweeping through Central is unprecedented. But nobody wants to speak and be seen as jeopardising Uhuru’s chances,” a prominent Central Kenya politician told the Star.
The accusations have been buttressed by the DPs involvement in drawing up JP lineups in areas like Mombasa and Kisii where the party is fighting to make inroads.
For instance, Ruto chaired the meeting in which business tycoon Suleiman Shahbal was named JP’s Mombasa governor pick.
Anania Mwamboza, previously gunning for the county’s top job, agreed to be running mate.
In Kisii, Ruto asked Deputy Governor Joash Maangi to step aside for Senator Chris Obure for governor. Maangi has since defected from Jubilee and returned to ODM.
Nairobi JP governor aspirant Peter Kenneth and his Kiambu JP counterpart William Kabogo stopped just short of naming the DP as architect of their defeats. Both are running as independents.
Kenneth, former Gatanga MP, last week told NTV there was a cartel whose mandate was to ensure certain individuals lost the primaries.
“There was no iota of evidence linking President Uhuru to what we witnessed in Jubilee primaries. We know what happened was played in connection to 2022 politics,” he said.
Kenneth is considered a potential 2022 presidential candidate from Mount Kenya and is likely to challenge Ruto in the Uhuru succession battle.
Kabogo, known to have bottomless pockets, last year warned Ruto he must renegotiate his deal with the Kikuyu community if he wants its support in 2022.
The governor says Ruto’s name was mentioned at a hotel where his (Kabogo’s) political obituary was being written.
“I cannot say if the DP was involved but people met in a hotel and planned how to rig me out me. I have the video. Money exchanged hands and they kept on mentioning his name. I even told him,” Kabogo said in an exclusive interview with Radio Africa.
Kabogo lost to Ferdinand Waititu.
Kenneth lost to flamboyant Senator Mike Sonko.
In cobbling together friendly line-ups countrywide, Ruto is said to have used influential business tycoons and powerful political figures to broker deals among competing candidates.
During primaries, Ruto intensified behind-the-scenes negotiations among rivals. As a result, some dropped out in favour of Ruto’s choices. Some didn’t.
In Ruto’s Rift Valley backyard, Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago, Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi and his Nandi Hills counterpart Alfred Keter had said Ruto’s aides wanted them out.
The three triumphed in the nominations.
Bitter JP nomination losers, most running as independents, have formed the Kenya Association of Independent Candidates (KAIC) giving Jubilee a fresh headache in its once-safe Central and Rift Valley bastions.
KAIC wants Uhuru to recognise their caucus as an independent team, acknowledge them in campaigns, and take responsibility for what they insist were chaotic nominations.
The President has said he would work with them.
However, Ruto insists Jubilee only recognises its own nominees.
“Independent candidates are independent candidates. We have our own candidates with whom we share the platform, ideologies, philosophy and manifesto… Anyone who wants to support us is free to support us. But our focus is our members,” Ruto said.
Former Naivasha MP John Mututho told the Star Uhuru is a good man but other people whom he said: took over the nomination exercise were not straight”.
Mututho warned that if Jubilee mistreats independents, its national appeal will dwindle drastically after the polls.
He says the ruling coalition must not play favourites.
“We don’t want a Nyayometer’ where people are favoured for Parliament and other positions because of sycophancy,” Mututho said.
Because of fallout and defections, JP is reaching out to losers and strong independents.
On Tuesday Uhuru and Ruto held a lengthy discussion with Kabogo. That State House meeting is but one in a flurry of talks with poll losers to deflate the momentum of the independents’ caucus.