Revealed: Why Uhuru is on the warpath with his Deputy Ruto
Revealed: Why Uhuru is on the warpath with his Deputy Ruto
Anything done to hurt William Ruto now actually increases his popularity: That Deputy President William Ruto is an ambitious man who has no qualms about shouting from the rooftops on his presidential ambitions in 2022 is not in doubt.
But like Icarus, the son of Daedalus in Greek mythology, the self-proclaimed ‘hustler’ is now accused of flying too close to the sun and the wax in his wings is melting, his ambitions having clashed with his boss’s legacy-driven second term plans.
Given the fluidity of Kenyan politics, it is hard to pinpoint where exactly the camaraderie previously enjoyed by the Jubilee duo — they often wore matching shirts and ties — ended, but there is general consensus that it all revolves around the March 2018 Handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition chief Raila Odinga.
DP Ruto opposed the Handshake, calling it a ploy to scuttle his State House ambitions.
Forced to choose between Mr Odinga’s unflinching loyalty and DP Ruto’s unbridled ambition and constant opposition to the Handshake, President Uhuru Kenyatta appears to have not only picked the former, but also moved to deliberately undercut the DP.
“Ruto’s problems started with him thinking that this was a co-presidency. His greed for power is now finishing him,” nominated MP Maina Kamanda said, summarising what he said was the popular opinion in the President’s camp.
“This is a man who has openly defied the President, even lining up MPs from Mt Kenya to abuse him left, right, and centre. Really, enough is enough!”
Mr Kamanda cited DP Ruto’s closeness to MPs Moses Kuria (Gatundu South), Kimani Ichung’wah (Kikuyu) and Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu). “You cannot use MPs to fight the President when we know almost 80 per cent of them will go home in 2022.”
Nyandarua Governor Francis Kimemia, a dyed-in-the-wool ‘establishment man’ who ran the show during President Mwai Kibaki’s time, told the Nation that the removal of Mr Murkomen and Ms Kihika from Senate leadership positions was just the beginning of what he said was a long-overdue decision.
“There are never two ways in the government. It is either you work and support it or you are out. No one ever competes with the government and wins,” Mr Kimemia said.
DP Ruto has been accused of competing with President Kenyatta in launching projects, some of which are said to have stalled because they were launched before they were budgeted for, or before the contracts were completed.
For Cherang’any MP Joshua Kutuny, DP Ruto had just gone too far by refusing to take advice, fighting too many battles on too many fronts with the opposition, the Judiciary and investigative agencies, and going against the President.
“Ruto is a Mr-Know-It-All. He wants to run the show, including making decisions for the Executive. There has been a lot of tolerance, but the man is incorrigible,” Mr Kutuny said.
But those in DP Ruto’s camp believe that the accusations around his State House ambitions are misplaced.
They argue that DP Ruto’s 2022 ambitions were a well-known strategy and that punishing him for laying the ground work for it was duplicitous.
And as the clock ticks towards 2022, DP Ruto, the indefatigable teetotaller known for his energetic rallies, must choose between remaining loyal to a union that has all the signs of a broken marriage or step even closer to the sun by biting the bullet and calling President Kenyatta’s bluff by resigning — the ultimate show of disapproval.
But even this, it appears, is not an easy option, with allies fearing that quitting the DP’s post and the party will weaken him against future attacks.
“It is unfortunate that amid the Covid-19, floods and landslides crises, the President is focused on targeting Ruto’s supporters. You can take away these positions but you will never take away William Ruto from Kenyans’ hearts,” vocal Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei said.
Belgut MP Nelson Koech said the DP “is stronger than ever”. “William Ruto is the clear frontrunner for 2022 and that is why he is the target of all these negative campaigns,” he said.
Kenyatta University lecturer Edward Kisiang’ani said DP Ruto might be down, but nowhere close to being out.
“When (President) Uhuru shook hands with Raila (Odinga), William Ruto knew that this was going to end up with him being affected. What he did is decide not to go on the offensive. Anything done to hurt William Ruto now actually increases his popularity,” Prof Kisiang’ani said.
And while Mr Kamanda believes that DP Ruto’s dalliance with Mt Kenya MPs and the constant visits were a sign of “Ruto trying to overthrow Uhuru in his own backyard”, Prof Kisiang’ani believes that the visits would actually be in the DP’s favour, in the end.
“People deep in Central Kenya, in the villages and markets, will soon ask: ‘When you wanted to be President, who stood with you?’,” Prof Kisiang’ani says.
University of Nairobi lecturer Herman Manyora believes that DP Ruto’s plan went awfully wrong, and there is not much he can do about it.
“For William Ruto, it is not even a question of mistakes. He had a strategy that just did not work. And sometimes, even the best strategies do not work,” Mr Manyora explained.
Political analyst Macharia Munene argues that what is happening to DP Ruto is not unique, citing the betrayal of former Vice-President George Saitoti by President Moi in 2002, and that of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga in 1966.
He argues that the constitutional provision that the President cannot fire his deputy means that “Ruto will be a factor in the 2022 succession politics as this constitutional knot cannot be wished away”.
“It appears now that the political heavyweights — Uhuru, Raila, Gideon Moi, and lately, Kalonzo Musyoka — have ganged up against Ruto. That leaves Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula, who haven’t spoken about this new alliance, for Ruto to try and convince,” he said.
However, he warned, the current scenario might just trigger talks of a review of the provision that a DP cannot be fired by his boss.
“In a situation where the President and his deputy are not seeing eye to eye, what does the President do? Questions will start to be asked whether that was a mistake,” he said.
By PATRICK LANG’AT
Additional reporting by Waikwa Maina