THINGS FALL APART

BBI: Cabinet Secretaries split between Uhuru, Ruto

Deputy President is unhappy with his boss Kenyatta’ s support for BBI

In Summary
  • Nine out of 20 CSs have taken sides in the BBI report debate
  • Ruto has openly taken on his boss whom he accuses of wasting public funds to support Raila's political agenda
DP William Ruto, President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga at Bomas on Wednesday, November 27, 2019.
DP William Ruto, President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga at Bomas on Wednesday, November 27, 2019.
Image: PSCU

The future of the Jubilee government is on shaky ground after Cabinet Secretaries and some senior civil servants divided their loyalties between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto 

While some CSs are openly showing their allegiance to the two, others are quietly taking sides as the road to 2022 takes shape.

At the centre of the fallout is Ruto’s displeasure with his boss's support for the  Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) and the hand of ODM leader Raila Odinga in government.

 
 

In the wake of the political storm, kicked off by the BBI task force report, Cabinet Secretaries have taken the cue and have since been speaking at cross-purposes as they push the agenda of the wing that nominated them to government.

"Because of BBI and the 2022 politics, we look at each other with suspicion. The unity of purpose we had is slowly disappearing and its only a matter of time before that spreads across government," a Cabinet Secretary said.

As a result, there are fears that Kenyatta's ambitious Big Four agenda and the fight against corruption could be greatly affected.

Of Uhuru’s current 20 CSs, at least nine have taken opposite sides as far as the BBI report is concerned.

Powerful Interior CS Fred Matiang’ i, Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa, ICT's Joe Mucheru, Public Service's Margaret Kobia, Transport CS James Macharia and his Industrialization counterpart Peter Munya are leading campaigns for BBI hearings.

Those supporting the DP’s line of thought are Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri, Energy CS Charles Keter, Lands CS Farida Karoney and Water CS Simon Chelugui.

Kobia had defended her colleagues who are pushing for the initiative, saying it's part of their responsibility as public servants to implement the President's agenda.

 
 

“The BBI objective is for a united, prosperous and cohesive country for social-economic development. CSs are public servants and, therefore, remain apolitical though there is a very thin line between politics and development. Those who are going out to ask wananchi to stay with the nine BBI issues are doing so because it is an executive order,” Kobia told the Star.

Matiang’i and Wamalwa on Friday last week joined Raila and other pro-BBI troops in Kisii where they insisted that they were following instructions from the President and Raila in backing the BBI report.

Wamalwa is also working with Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and Cotu boss Francis Atwoli in organising another meeting in Kakamega this weekend.

Matiang'i and PS Karanja Kibicho were in Kirinyaga last month where they joined Governor Anne Waiguru in drumming up support for the document that has split the Central region.

Days after that meeting, Kiunjuri convened 68 MPs and senators from the Mt Kenya region in Embu where they issued a statement supporting the BBI report but opposed round two talks.

Last Saturday, Chelugui said he had read the BBI report and was satisfied that it was a good document, hence there was no need for round two discussions, a position that contradicts the President's stand.

“It is time individual, leaders and respective communities in Kenya are allowed to go through it and discuss before finally being called for a referendum,” he said.

While Uhuru is in Mombasa, Ruto has been crisscrossing the country preaching his opposition to round two of BBI hearings.  

On Sunday he took on his boss and his handlers directly when he said public servants should stop taking "orders from above" without written confirmation.

Ruto, while in Narok County said "orders from above" ceased to exist with the promulgation of the Constitution in 2010.

“No public official should say they got orders from above unless it is in writing. People should not lie to themselves and pretend as if we are in the old days. Every public servant has a responsibility to implement the Constitution,” he stated.

Chapter Nine of the Constitution on the decisions of the President says a decision of the head of state in the performance of any function of the President shall be in writing and shall bear the seal and signature of the President.

The remarks by the Deputy President have elicited varied reactions from a crosssection of leaders.

Mathare MP Anthony Olouch termed Ruto’s remarks disrespectful to the President. “The Deputy President now no longer cares to respect the President. It is like he is daring the President to do away with him,” he stated.

But a now fierce critic of the President, Kandara MP Alice Wahome is of the view that the Deputy President is free to express his mind.

“Those people who are saying the Deputy President is disrespecting the President because of speaking his mind have forgotten that the Deputy President is not an appointee of the President,” she said.

Political commentator Herman Manyora said the matter is currently not tenable and the Deputy President could either walk out of government or sit down and reach an agreement with the other side.

“I think the Deputy President's followers, even if Uhuru was to support him again, will never forgive him for what Ruto has gone through,” added Manyora.

He continued: “I pray that at some point when the dust has settled, I’ll see Uhuru, Raila and Ruto sitting together in the interest of this country”

Nyamira Senator Okong'o Omogeni said Uhuru and Ruto could soon go their separate ways if nothing was done to save their strained relationship.

“I will be shocked if this marriage survives till the end of 2020,” Omogeni said.

Nominated Senator Isaac Mwaura said it was clear that Jubilee was divided in two factions and it was only a matter of time before the leadership went separate ways.

“We are just hanging by the bootstraps. We have not met as Jubilee Party for the longest. I think the last time we met was when we were agreeing on which positions should be occupied in Parliament,” he said.

Mwaura said it was awkward that there were members in the party who belong to Uhuru (party leader) and those who belong to Ruto (deputy party leader).

“It will be the end of Jubilee if we go to elections the way things are. It will be worse than ODM elections in Kasarani,” he said.

Soy MP Caleb Kosittany, a key figure that founded Jubilee Party, said while Uhuru and Ruto's relations were "fine", it was the hangers-on who were brought on board that were rocking the relationship.

"These are a few individuals who are causing disharmony. They have no idea how this government was formed otherwise Uhuru and Ruto are working together," he noted.