WRANGLES

Is Uhuru-Ruto 'marriage' over?

Ruto says BBI is not about unifying Kenyan but hijacked by Raila for 2022 game plan and to divide the ruling Jubilee.

In Summary

• Just last week, Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria joined the growing list of Jubilee MPs who have come face to face with raw power.

• Ruto allies say the President should step up and show leadership

Uhuru and Ruto at the merger to form Jubilee Party
Uhuru and Ruto at the merger to form Jubilee Party
Image: FILE

One afternoon in January 2017 as the Senate debated the election laws, Siaya's James Orengo warned the Jubilee side that one day “the government will eat them”.

He was trying to convince the power-obsessed Jubilee senators to reconsider their stand on controversial election laws.

The legislation gave the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) more powers in the management of elections.

 

“Mr Speaker, I want to say this, the person you think is your neighbour will be your enemy tomorrow. I want to say when I was in danger it was GG Kariuki (late former Laikipia senator) who saved me when somebody wanted to detain me. He told me; 'don't take those words for fun, run or else you are going to be chewed,'”  Orengo said.

He appealed to his colleagues:  “Let us listen to each other. This is one country...I want to talk to Nyaugenya Beth Mugo (nominated Senator). We have gone through trenches together, you know when the government in power behaves.

"Probably you should give people on the other side (Jubilee) a little bit of education that sometimes revolutions eat their own children. Governments eat their own people. This government will punish you more than will punish me.”

Four years later, Orengo’s prophesy seems to have come to pass. To some extent, it is being manifested at the echelons of the Jubilee administration.

The studious silence adopted by President Uhuru Kenyatta when Deputy President William Ruto and his allies are subjects of State harassment and ridicule has left more questions than answers on their unity.

Just last week, Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria joined the growing list of Jubilee MPs who have come face to face with raw power.

Political observers say power wielders within the government have taken advantage of President Kenyatta's silence to undermine and frustrate the DP.

 

It comes clearer in Ruto's desperate calls around the renewed Building Bridges Initiative campaigns and calls to the government - which he is second in command, to respect court orders.

"I want to ask every public officer to ensure that they play their part in ensuring they respect the rule of law. Even as we go to the realm of court orders, it is the responsibility of every public officer – individually and as a government, to respect every court issued by a competent court. Any public officer who disobeys court orders will carry their cross individually," the DP said in Narok yesterday.

Ruto is the second in command in Uhuru's administration, leaving questions on why he'd complain about the same entity disrespecting the courts.

The UhuRuto marriage that blossomed in 2013 started plummeting at the beginning of their second term in office in 2018.

It would worsen with the Handshake between Uhuru and ODM leader Raila Odinga in March of the same year.

Two months to the second anniversary of the Handshake, the house of Jubilee is like the biblical Tower of Babel.

UhuRuto's relationship is now characterised by hard-hitting remarks targeted at each other. The one-time unified Jubilee is in a shambles and the Cabinet deeply divided.

To cut his political influence to size, President Kenyatta issued an Executive Order in January last year in a reorganisation that gave Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i more powers.

By granting the CS supervisory roles across government, the President whittled his principal assistant's influence and in essence, ended his countrywide tours to launch and commission state projects.

Ruto later devised a way of traversing the country, opting for church harambees, women empowerment projects, and commissioning CDF -funded projects.

In another well-crafted plan, senior officials in the Office of the President started giving instructions to county commissioners and security officers to stop attending the DP's functions.

Of late, the state operatives have designed a plan where MPs, CSs or even junior government officials are sent to various functions where the DP is “to represent the President - to read his speeches or make contributions”.

“All these are done from Harambee House by the people we all know just to embarrass the DP and to portray him as a man who is no longer in talking terms with the President. It is unfortunate that State House has opted to watch from a distance hence complicating the confusion,” Belgut MP Nelson Koech said.

The lawmaker noted that while the Jubilee leadership is a collective responsibility, it was time for the President to give direction to the country.

He said it is Uhuru’s lacklustre leadership that has “made some Cabinet Secretaries and senior civil servants to engage in politics, disobey court orders and undermine the DP”.

“It is unfortunate that we find ourselves in this situation. The country is crying out for the President’s attention. We are at a point where the President should step in and make those painful decisions for this country to make progress,” he told the Star.

Amid claims of an assassination plot against the DP, Ruto's security detail - that had been drastically reduced, was reinstated.

The Star, through multiple sources in government, has established that in the coming days, Ruto’s security will be downsized again.

The move to reduce his bodyguards, which might compromise his security, was agreed on during a high profile meeting in Mombasa during the December festive season.

The meeting which was held in a private residence in Mombasa’s Shanzu area also centred on reclaiming Mount Kenya to back Uhuru following divisions in the region after Jubilee’s failed promises.

The meeting, which brought together state operatives and a political strategist working for a powerful government official, agreed to put an elaborate plan in place that might expose the deputy president.

As a result, the DP was forced out of his Mombasa official residence that was recently renovated.

The office of the DP has been upgrading the former residence of the Coast provincial commissioner since 2018 but the turn of events has raised questions.

The Star is also aware of a plan to frustrate Ruto during the upcoming Jubilee party elections, where critics believe the DP will use his influence in the party to have people who can push his agenda.

High profile officials who attended the meeting told the Star that this is meant to expose the DP, and frustrate his bid to launch strong campaign machinery ahead of the 2022 polls.

The so-called “system” has also denied him semi intelligence reports relying wholly on his loyalist in the security sector.

Cabinet Secretaries and other top government officials are afraid to accompany him fearing that the state operatives might profile them.

In the last one and half years, politicians and civil servants perceived to close to Ruto and playing key roles in his 2022 presidential bid have faced the wrath of the state some being charged for what they term as “politically fabricated corruption cases”.

“This is no more about politics. It is about the betrayal of public trust. This is a gross classic abuse of state power,” ICPC Executive Director Ndung'u Wainaina said.

Yesterday, Ruto and his allies blamed the Handshake for the confusion in government.

Ruto was of the view the BBI was after all not about unifying Kenyans but to help Raila build his 2022 line up.

“We accept that BBI/Handshake has been hijacked to craft ODM's 2022 political line up. Unity/inclusivity pretence and associated squander of public resources should stop. Unity? The opposition (Nasa) is already dismembered/dead; now dividing Jubilee. Big4 roll out the only way to go,” he tweeted.

Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro said despite the humiliation the DP is being subjected to, “God willing, he will make the best President Kenya has ever had”.

Nyoro, who was also recently the subject of the state harassment, said the government should be ashamed of itself.

“Ruto will be the greatest President that God ever created. This country belongs to all of us, not just to a handful of billionaires,” he said.

A twitter user, Abdiweli Duale observed that the humiliation of the DP and his allies was becoming too much.

“Deputy President William Ruto is the principal assistant to Uhuru Kenyatta. Long gone is the era of Presidents mistreating their VPs. Uhuru must respect Ruto, he should not be misled by some imbeciles and power brokers,” he said.

Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen appears to suggest that despite the divisions in the Jubilee government, they will push on within the party.

“UhuRuto are conjoined twins currently facing the challenge of managing a captured opposition with us the members of Jubilee having a divergent opinion about it. But make no mistake we shall complete the journey together. No shortcut,” the Senate Majority Leader said.

He added: “There are no corners and no shortcuts. Anyone unhappy with Ruto being the Deputy President can as well quickly resign from the Jubilee government. Period.”