• Musalia rebuffs Ruto overtures for 2022 political deal.
• Tangatanga MPs say referendum expensive, waste of time.
Deputy President William Ruto claims that the impending referendum spearheaded by the Building Bridges Initiative is simply meant to appease Opposition chief Raila Odinga.
Ruto spoke as ANC Leader Musalia Mudavadi rebuffed his overtures for a 2022 political deal, saying the DP was part of the problem afflicting Kenya.
“He has been at the forefront in the country’s borrowing spree that has put Kenya in big debt. That means more taxation. Then he is saying I join him. Eish! Eish!” Musalia said in Kibra yesterday.
He went on, “Ruto and Jubilee are the problem. They are the ones who have caused us problems. Now they want me to be part of the problem. No. ANC is going to find the solution.”
On Saturday, Ruto toured Musalia’s Sabatia home turf and for the first time pleaded with the ANC leader to join him in forming a political alliance for the presidency in 2022.
Yesterday, Ruto, who has been sending mixed signals for his support for BBI, said the 14-man task force ought to have sought Raila’s views alone without purporting the drive to be a Kenyan issue.
Ruto said the one-man quest for constitutional change should not derail the country’s development needs.
According to Ruto, the BBI team ought to pursue Raila, and ask him the changes he requires in the Constitution, instead of railroading Kenyans who have other important needs.
In a blistering attack on Raila, the DP said the Opposition chief should state what he wants to be changed in the country’s supreme law so that he can accept electoral defeat in 2022.
“BBI should ask him what he needs to be changed in the Constitution for him to accept the outcome of elections,” Ruto said, adding that Kenya should be spared the constitutional drama.
Ironically, the BBI taskforce is spearheaded by Ruto’s boss, President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition chief Raila Odinga following the electoral stalemate in 2017.
Uhuru has given his unflinching support to the BBI team and sent a clear signal that he would support law change.
“If there is anything wrong with the Constitution, or any other law, we need to sit down and see how best we can rectify it,” President Kenyatta said on August 24 during the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the CITAM Church.
He went on, “You can’t just sit on your laurels and hope that manna will fall from heaven. If there are thorns in our Constitution or even our laws, let’s remove them because not all leaders will do as they say. Our only safeguard is a Constitution that stands and protects all the 45 million Kenyans. The only act of ingenuity that remains is for us to sit down and look at the laws and rectify them.”
Soon after the President’s declaration, Ruto appeared to drop his hardline stance on the referendum.
“When BBI puts across their proposals, we will engage in a sober debate. We will not accept the spirit of tsunami that divides this country again… “We want to ensure that as a nation, whatever is going to be proposed, in any format, does not create losers or winners," Ruto said in Kapsabet days later.
However, on Sunday, Ruto claimed a referendum was the least among the issues that Kenyans wanted at the moment.
He cautioned Jubilee against encouraging the debate for the referendum, saying it may impede its development agenda.
The DP said providing services to Kenyans should not halted by calls for constitutional changes.
Ruto hit out at Raila for his “incessant and irritating” calls to change the Constitution.
Leaders accompanying him were MPs John Kiarie (Dagoretti South), Rigathi Gachagua (Mathira), Jayne Kihara (Naivasha), George Macharia (Ndia), Eric Muchangi (Runyenjes), Esther Emanikor (Woman Rep, Turkana) and Gladys Shollei (Woman Rep, Uasin Gishu).
Others were Purity Ngirici (Woman Rep, Kirinyaga), Sylvanus Maritim (Ainamoi) and Mary Seneta (Woman Rep, Kajiado).
“Those who want to put us in that debate should give us space and time to continue transforming Kenya,” Ruto explained, adding that the discussions on the Constitution were for politicians shopping for seats and power.
The Deputy President said it was time leaders appreciated the fact that they had been given the mandate to make the lives of Kenyans better through the implementation of the Jubilee Manifesto, Big Four agenda and Vision 2030.
Taking a cue from their boss, the Tangatanga MPs also took a swipe at the plebiscite push.
Ngirici said a referendum was costly and would only create division and further ethnicity. She added that the resources for the exercise should be channelled to development projects that would empower the people.
“We cannot burden them anymore with selfish interests,” said Maritim, who was supported by his Runyenjes counterpart. Muchangi noted that Kenyans were tired, stressed and hungry, and any attempts to put more loads on them would kill them.
(Edited by V. Graham)