COUNTERATTACK

Ruto's fightback strategy

He has rolled out a multi-million humanitarian kitty to support Covid-19 victims.

In Summary
  • DP will snub key national events, maintain a studious silence and tone down attacks on political enemies.
  • He has released millions of shillings worth of food to his key allies across the country to distribute to vulnerable families.
Deputy President William Ruto
SECRET PLANS: Deputy President William Ruto
Image: FILE

Deputy President William Ruto's think tank is designing a tactical political fightback that will keep his State House prospects alive against an aggressive onslaught by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The Star understands that the DP's key strategists and advisers are working on an elaborate strategy to counter Uhuru's political war against the ex-Eldoret North MP.

Part of the strategy will see the DP snub key national events, maintain a studious silence and tone down attacks on his perceived political enemies as he explores his tough political options.

 

According to the DP's handlers, Ruto is determined to pull a political shocker that will shake the country's political terrain in the face of a radical shift triggered by Opposition chief Raila Odinga.

The DP, who has remained quiet as Uhuru shoves him off the nerve centre of power, is said to be working on strategic timing for his “reaction” to turn tables on his rivals.

“The endgame is to have a down-up political support mechanism that is backed by ordinary hustlers in the streets and villages,” a key Ruto insider told the Star in confidence.

Withdrawing his acerbic attacks on his political enemies like Raila would throw President Uhuru's advisers into a spin for fear of the duo finally reuniting in a bid to revenge against Uhuru in 2022.

Raila is poised to get a key role in Uhuru's economic recovery strategy amid a looming reorganisation of government targeting Ruto's allies.

The DP's studious silence in the wake of the sustained political war from his boss, the Star has established, is part of his political weapon in the face of the fallout in government.

“There will no longer be bullets from our side. Silence is the best weapon,” said another Ruto confidant aware of the DP's political strategy.

 

Ruto could snub the upcoming National Madaraka Day celebrations on June 1 in what would clearly lift the lid on the extent of his falling out with the President.

The 57th Mashujaa Day fete was initially planned to be held at Gusii Stadium, Kisii county, but given the government directives to contain coronavirus pandemic it could be televised from State House.

President Kenyatta extended the country's night curfew and the lockdown in Nairobi and at least four other counties by 21 days to June 6, signaling a low-key Mashujaa fete.

The DP, the Star understands, might also be a no-show in the planned State of the National Address by President Uhuru Kenyatta in Parliament mid-next month.

The Constitution obliges the President to address Parliament at least once a year to table his scorecard and outline his agenda for the country as well as update the bicameral House on international obligations.

The address has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic but the National Assembly is expected to resume from a short one-month recess by June 2 to usher the reading of the presidential speech and the budget.

Ruto failed to attend the annual Labour Day celebrations that were held at State House on May 1 where Cotu secretary general Francis Atwoli launched a scathing attack on him.

The DP, according to his strategists, will maintain his cool despite a spirited campaign by the President's troops to cut him down to size ahead of the 2022 polls.

There is also a plan to send out mixed reactions about his 2022 political ambitions amid reports he could open his doors wide for the creation of new alliances.

The DP is already a lonely man and Raila, his former ally-turned-foe, has pulled off on him an act of sweet revenge after nearly a decade of bitter political rivalry.

However, Ruto's allies maintain that despite the obvious crumbling of the Jubilee Party, the DP will stay put in the ruling outfit.

“Take it from me, the Deputy President will not walk out of the Jubilee party. Walk out to where? This party belongs to Jubilee members spread across the country and not one or two individuals,” said Kimilili MP Didmas Barasa, a key Ruto ally.

The President has already engineered the removal of the DP's allies in Senate leadership positions. Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen and his Nakuru counterpart Susan Kihika were ousted as Majority Leader and Whip respectively.

Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki, another key Ruto ally, is also targeted for removal as Deputy Speaker in a vote that will be taken on Friday before the house cleaning moves to the National Assembly.

The purge on Ruto's allies is set to be extended to the National Assembly where Majority Whip Benjamin Washiali, Deputy Whip Cecily Mbarire and other influential committee chairs allied to Ruto are targeted.

The DP is said to have held a meeting with his close allies on Tuesday and asked them to tone down their attacks on the President and Raila Odinga, in a strategic retreat to avoid escalation of hostilities.

According to one of the MPs who attended the meeting at his Karen office, the DP appealed to his lieutenants to do everything possible not to respond to provocation from their political rivals.

“The DP was clear that he doesn't want to see any more public attacks directed at any political enemies or otherwise. We have made a retreat,” said the MP who sought anonymity so as not to be seen discussing the DP's secret plans.

The DP ordered the MPs to take a lead role in distributing food to vulnerable families in their respective electoral areas and even offered to dispatch millions in food items to support them.

The Ruto Foundation is donating food items parallel to the government systems that use provincial administrators in a move that has sparked uproar from targeted beneficiaries.

Ruto wants to earn massive political capital by ultimately disassociating himself with any government plunders during this Covid-19 pandemic.

To win public support, the DP has released millions of shillings worth of food to his key allies across the country to distribute to vulnerable families affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Ruto's appearance on Wednesday with food for at least 600 vulnerable communities in Kiambu county was part of the strategy that will see him take a retreat from bareknuckled politics.

The DP's distribution of food in the President's backyard could also be seen as part of his strategy to paint himself as a politician with the heart to help.

The DP is expected to use his network of loyal supporters to deliver food and non-food items including face masks to rural poor families and those in slums to shore up his grassroots support.

According to an insider, the DP targets up to 50,000 households across the country with 3,600 already supported by the William Ruto Foundation.

“We are committed to ensuring that vulnerable Kenyans are supported during this tough period of the Covid-19 crisis besides coming up with broad plans that will facilitate the country's rapid recovery from the disease,” Ruto said when he personally distributed food to families in Nachu, Kikuyu constituency.

That was the first time the DP emerged since April 8 when he made his last national address on the Covid-19 to the chagrin of President Uhuru Kenyatta's handlers.

Since then, the DP has fizzled out of active politics despite a sustained campaign by his boss to block his ascendancy to the country's top office.

The Star has established Ruto's Karen office is controlling and monitoring the aid distribution to some MPs, MCAs and other politicians for onward delivery too targeted groups.

The scheme is to maintain the DP's grassroots support during this difficult time when Covid-19 has ravaged poor households, triggered job losses and locked him up from his usual countrywide tours.

Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi, without revealing the DP's game plan, told the Star that the DP had taken a strategic retreat and would instead focus on extending aid to vulnerable families across the country.

“The Deputy President wants to stand up with Kenyans affected by coronavirus across the country. As a man who trusts in the Lord, the DP knows that a hand that gives is blessed,” Sudi told the Star.

While most politicians have either failed to make substantial donations to vulnerable families or have been giving out masks and sanitiser, the DP is focusing on food.

“The DP's strategy is to attract public sympathy by empathising with them during this difficult time. By personally delivering food, the DP wants to maintain a national presence as his rivals strategise against him in boardrooms,” said political analyst Felix Odhiambo.

Former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale claimed that Mombasa businessman Mohammed Tenga had been arrested for distributing food sent by Ruto's humanitarian team.

Khalwale, who has heightened food distribution across the Western region to support flood victims and families affected by the Covid-19, said Tenga was arrested by police for associating with Ruto.

“Is he persona non grata for associating with @WilliamsRuto in this humanitarian work? Am I by extension meant to stop similar activities in Western? What's going on, Mr President?” Khalwale tweeted.

Edited by Henry Makori