SANG: Why the Rift Valley remains uneasy with the handshake

Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi during a past function. /FILE
Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi during a past function. /FILE

Oscar Sudi: Spunky, waspish, sometimes irrational, even absurd, but always imaginative. And gutsy. Here is a man always spoiling for a fight with anyone or anything that so remotely seems to be against Deputy President William Ruto ambitions.

And he has not spared anyone, even the President, from the tongue-lashing. Making acerbic utterances that sometimes have no basis in fact or knowledge, his speeches reflect the acute political disillusion and social disengagement that is slowly shifting the Rift from the centre of Jubilee.

In the same manner the President did not reprimand former Jubilee vice chairman David Murathe for going after the DP, the Deputy President has not bothered to reprimand Sudi, showing he fully agrees with what he is saying. Jubilee is now standing on stilts. You can blame it on the Handshake, at least as far as the Rift is concerned.

The real problem here is the emotional capital that was employed in getting the Rift to vote for Uhuru. So high it was, that the region voted almost to a man for him. But Uhuru did not quite realise they were not really voting for him: They were voting against Raila Odinga, who is now his close ally. Their morbid dislike of Raila saw them mobilise every last vote to ensure he would only see State House from the fence. All was well, until the Handshake happened on March 9 last year.

A NIGERIAN SOAP

When Uhuru chose Ruto as his running mate, the position of the Rift Valley became that of a poor mother who eagerly welcomed her daughter’s marriage to a respectable family. This marriage came with the possibility (promise) of inheriting untold riches in the (near) future.

Things were going on well in the marriage until March last year, when the Sandet (son-in-law), found a Mpango. Initially, there was nothing wrong in their Handshake but the Mpango and her friends immediately began targeting the wife, shouting loudly about her past misdeeds.

While it is true that the wife has a bit of a reputational problem, this had never been a problem until now. And now the husband is watching as his Mpango, who was once a close friend of the wife, is bashing his wife.

This has naturally rattled the mother, who is claiming the Sandet has lost respect for her and her daughter. The Mpango, on the other hand, is unrelenting. She seems to have cast a spell on the husband who has since joined the forces against his own wife. These are the intrigues of the Nigerian soap and this is how the Handshake is viewed in Ruto’s backyard.

HOW NOT TO FIGHT CORRUPTION

All our leaders, past and present, have participated in or presided over corruption in one way or another. Hardly any public leader is clean.

 

I have argued here before that Jomo Kenyatta in 1958 had about a dozen articles of property, half of which were his clothes and one of which was a ‘half pair’ of pajamas. When he died 20 years later, he was worth billions and owned land that is viewable from space. His successors were no better and his son has treated us to a good portion of corruption intrigues. Ruto, on his part, has been mentioned in many scandals, it appears that his problem is also about the way he handles his business. Nearly every Kenyan can tell you what Ruto owns and the rest of the world too, thanks to Stephen Sackur of BBC.

The hue and cry over Weston Hotel is the culmination of carelessness on the part of Ruto, particularly if he knew the paperwork was not above board. As long as he remains with ambitions for the presidency, Weston Hotel will be his soft underbelly. This makes it much easier for his political competitors to target him. But as soon as politics is brought to the picture, you will never catch a thief.

TRAIL OF THE BREADCRUMBS

 

While the Handshake is credited for clearing the way for the renewed fight against corruption, political undertones are still standing in the way. It is still true that most cases depend on how far the centre of power lies. For instance, nobody dared to arrest or prosecute members of Uhuru’s family when they were mentioned in the Sh7 billion Afya House health scandal.

Last year, however, high profile arrests in the Energy sector and pre-dawn house raids were conducted. While the DPP and the DCI have denied targeting one community or region, they have been at pains to explain why they are not doing much for even more serious corruption cases. The breadcrumbs of corruption are spread all over but it appears that the DCI is looking for those that lead to Ruto’s doorstep. For that, they blame the Handshake. It has pretty much rebalanced power and Ruto is feeling exposed. This only means one thing, the Rift and for that matter DP Ruto, has been edged out of the centre of power.

Last month, a Kenyan named Justus Rotich moved to court to obtain orders to compel the DPP to include Energy PS Joseph Njoroge in the Kenya Power scandal pitting former MDs Ken Tarus and Ben Chumo. He argued that the DPP intentionally left out Njoroge, who had been the MD between 2007 and 2013, when, he says, much of the procurement problems began.

Most of the Ruto allies wonder the materiality of the charges given that about Sh409 million in substandard transformers would be miniscule compared to the Sh7 billion Afya Scandal and even the Sh9 billion NYS scandals. They read even more mischief in the prosecution of the Kenya Pipeline MD Joe Sang over the fuel jetty in Kisumu, when in fact he was expressly implementing a Board decision. They argue that to be fair to Sang, PS Joseph Kinyua and John Ngumi, who sit on the Kenya Power board, should also be prosecuted. Ngumi, who is wanted in Tanzania for a bribery case, is considered a close ally of the President and is untouchable.

In the latest case, that of the two dams Arror and Kimwarer, DP’s allies have explained it saying the DCI is again cherry-picking the cases with hidden political motives. They have lined up all the other dams where advance payments were released and no work is going on as examples. Oscar Sudi again blames the Handshake for having all the arrows being fired at Ruto.

Let’s see how they will go.