BROMANCE DEAD

Explainer: Genesis of Uhuru, Ruto fallout

In Summary
  • Persons, many of whom have now shifted to Ruto’s camp, made a passionate call for the ODM leader’s incarceration for treason.
  • They lamented that the handshake would finish the dynamism that was President Kenyatta and Ruto ahead of the 2017 vote.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga on the footsteps of Harambee House on March 9, 2018.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga on the footsteps of Harambee House on March 9, 2018.
Image: JACK OWUOR

The March 9, 2018, handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his once-erstwhile rival Raila Odinga could be the lethal injection that killed the bromance the head of state and Deputy President William Ruto displayed ahead of the 2017 polls.

This was shortly after the second stab of their joint ticket, now under a unified Jubilee Party, whose victory was declared after a heavily contested election.

The DP did not attend the historical event, which would later change the country’s political dynamics a great deal, many pointing to the tranquility that ensued.

Prior to the handshake, there was tension amid Raila laying claim to the presidency, and his camp questioning the legitimacy of President Kenyatta’s election.

The shadows of the dramatic 2017 elections (the first one was nullified by Chief Justice David Maraga) spilt into 2018 with Raila’s mock swearing-in as the people's president.

Persons, many of whom have now shifted to Ruto’s camp, made a passionate call for the ODM leader’s incarceration for treason.

They lamented that the handshake would finish the dynamism that was President Kenyatta and Ruto ahead of the 2017 vote.

The President, in May, announced that the handshake should be extended across the country. He attempted to bring a truce between Ruto and Raila.

Uhuru declared he was not interested in a third term and urged patience among politicians seeking to succeed him.

Raila’s entry into the Jubilee matrix largely complicated the DP’s stay in Jubilee. Cracks in the ruling party began to manifest.

The DP’s allies lamented there were hidden cards in the handshake at Harambe House doorsteps which swept away the tension at that time within seconds.

What followed was that the DP would stay away from key state functions – save for national holidays.

Less pictures of him together with Uhuru were published – unlike in the days of matching ties.

Many have argued that the wedge got wider after the DP somewhat defied President Kenyatta’s call for an end to politics to allow him to work and deliver his legacy.

The DP had at this time embarked on nationwide tours “inspecting development projects” – tours which earned his camp the name Tangatanga.

Ostensibly irritated, the President issued an executive order putting Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i in charge of state projects.

The President further banned launches of any project unless approved by the Cabinet committee chaired by the Interior CS.

Undeterred, Ruto continued with his Tangatanga meetings – largely taking advantage of Sunday services where 2022 succession politics was rife.

President Kenyatta’s allies fired warnings that the defiance would be punished.

Jubilee vice chairman David Murathe was blunt with the DP, saying he would not succeed President Kenyatta and that they preferred Raila.

Tables would later turn against the DP in a bloodbath that saw his allies purged from plum leadership posts in the National Assembly and the Senate.

Their crime, it has been argued, was centred on a feeling they would frustrate the Building Bridges Initiative—the handshake baby.

Ruto poked holes into the BBI, critiquing the document and the process, and recently said he would not want to be part of it.

His apparent opposition to the unity bid, which President Kenyatta is banking on to cement his legacy, has been touted as the last nail on the UhuRuto politics.

The President was clear about it with his remarks that the presidency is not a preserve of two tribes – Kikuyu and Kalenjin; of which the DP belongs to the latter.

President Kenyatta’s latest assertions contrast their 2017 campaign slogan that he (the President) would serve his two terms and hand over to the DP for another 10 years.

Murathe is of the view that the point of departure was that “DP abandoned the Big Four agenda and went on a different tangent.”