FALLING APART

Uhuru-Ruto feud likely to reach boiling point

Deputy President William Ruto has not hidden his disdain for the Building Bridges Initiative

In Summary

• Out of desperation, Ruto allies have resorted to uncouth means to compel his boss to honour his side of the bargain

• Listening to the leading lights of the Ruto brigade, one gets the feeling that the team is suffering excruciating pain: The pain of betrayal has become unbearable.

Deputy President William Ruto and President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House Nairobi
TUKO PAMOJA? Deputy President William Ruto and President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House Nairobi
Image: FILE

Ever since the launch of the Building Bridges Initiative, the relationship at the presidency has been nothing but tense.

Deputy President William Ruto has not hidden his disdain for the project presented as best for healing the nation. Instead, his allies have been on the warpath castigating the activities of the Senator Yusuf Haji-led committee.

At every opportunity, they demonstrated how the handshake has hoodwinked Uhuru to allow Raila to disintegrate Jubilee and destabilize the government. While there has been relative calm, one cannot escape the nasty feeling of distant sounds of war drum beats.

 

Previously these taunts have been veiled and aimed at external forces to Jubilee. However, events of recent times have made it imperative to target the president. There have been attacks directed at him as the party leader and yet some of the attacks are rather personal and aimed at his relatives and friends. Ruto’s camp seems to have decided to remove the gloves and play dirty.

The bitterness appears to stem from the anticipated return of favour from Uhuru and allies, which is not forthcoming. Continuous prodding of the President to remember the Jubilee MoU has not borne any fruits.

Frustrations have thus set in and are running deep within the camp. Out of desperation, Ruto allies have resorted to uncouth means to compel his boss to honour his side of the bargain.

Listening to the leading lights of the Ruto brigade, one gets the feeling that the team is suffering excruciating pain: The pain of betrayal has become unbearable. The heat in the kitchen can no longer be tolerated and an exit plan is being hatched. The mood in both camps has turned foul and attack dogs are on the loose. If no tangible action is taken to stem the tide, then the country risks sliding into a state of inertia and eventual crisis. Certain circumstances and events may have conspired to work in tandem to push the ruling party leadership to this tipping point.

WAR ON GRAFT

The war on graft has previously been fought half-heartedly and without much tangible result registered. However, in his second term, Uhuru has demonstrated some rare resilience in this front.

It has confounded both friend and foe and spared no one irrespective of status. Buoyed by a pliant opposition, the President established a ruthless anti-corruption multi-agency team. Whether the composite slayer will survive and deal the graft menace a fatal blow is a subject of conjecture. There are already afoot legislative efforts by Ruto ally Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro to tame its enormous powers. These efforts are complemented by public forum derision of the role of the DCI and the DPP in anti-corruption war.

 

The two offices view this looting of public resources as economic crimes. As is natural, there have been more arrests of graft suspects from the government side of the nation than the opposition. Thus the opposition has cheered the President’s gallant efforts with glee. Unfortunately for the ruling party, the majority of the suspects are easily associated with the URP side of Jubilee.

Matters have not been helped by the loud protestation from leading Rift Valley politicians allied to the DP. They have depicted the anti-graft war as selectively ethnicised and weaponised. Claims of the war strategically targeting the DP ostensibly to derail his presidential quest have become the parlance in funeral and political functions in the Rift Valley.

Some of the corruption cases investigation such Weston Hotel land saga have highways to the DP’s doorstep. The war on corruption has, therefore, become the bane of the frosty relationship between Uhuru and Ruto. When the DP chose to scuttle the process by openly pouring scorn on the successes of the DCI and the DPP, the President reprimanded him publicly.

Pundits had erroneously predicted the beginning of the thawing of the ice-cold relationship between the two.

These happenings do not bode well for a presidency founded on duopoly and an alliance of political convenience. The joints of the largely tribal conglomerations did not bond well and the fault lines have become too weak. Wide cracks have emerged earlier than expected. The corruption purge is causing haemorrhage to Jubilee and is eating its children.

OPPOSITION IN ALLIANCE WITH PRESIDENT

Uhuru’s increasing engagement with the opposition has not gone down well with his deputy as well.

Ruto and allies have chosen to interpret this arrangement as designed to frustrate his efforts to succeed his buddy turned boss and now "foe".

The opposition leaders have wasted no time in warming themselves into Uhuru’s heart as his deputy sour grapes. They have been too eager to step in as enthusiastic support cast to the president during public functions. The more notable is during the nationwide launch of Huduma Namba registration.

The exercise was launched in five different locations across the country simultaneously. While the opposition leaders dutifully presided over the event in their respective assigned stations, Ruto skipped the Kakamega fete. It was later explained that the DP was meeting some Cuban delegation., and has since registered. To his critics, this was an excuse rather than the reason. Within Jubilee, there are senior leaders and advisors who consider working closely with the former NASA principals as more political prudence than an intransigent deputy. There are also those who have come to perceive their loses during the 2017 Jubilee primaries as Ruto orchestrated. These mandarins see lack of unanimity on government agenda at the presidency as an opportunity to hit back at the DP. They have treated the opposition with unprecedented warmth smacking of spite for Ruto.

Ruto’s camp has all but given up on attempts to ward off the invasion of their kraal by the opposition forces. They are openly charting their way independent of their erstwhile partners. During a visit to a Catholic church in Karura last weekend but one, the DP was welcomed by a horde of youths donning yellow t-shirts bearing his portrait. The yellow was the theme colour for the defunct URP before the merger with TNA to form Jubilee party. Observers were quick to notice the excitement of these youths in none Jubilee colours, which is blood red.

What had been thinly veiled threats of divorce within Jubilee was now a matter of public knowledge. Earlier, the president had taken the unusual decision to cross over Harambee Avenue to have a working lunch with his deputy at the latter’s office.

Pundits had erroneously predicted the beginning of the thawing of the ice-cold relationship between the two. There was thus general disappointment when hawks within both camps resumed in earnest their brickbats in the subsequent weekend.

As the DP was being received at Karura church, the anti-Ruto movement had their moment at a church in Murang’a. The team had no kind words for what they sarcastically refer to as the Tanga Tanga team.

With revelations of more impending high profile arrests and Camp Ruto solidifying their resolve to go alone, the UhuRuto alliance is headed to the rocks. It is deteriorating so fast that it is now more a matter of when not if the tension within the presidential duopoly will reach boiling point and implode. The divorce will likely bear the adjectives famously attributed to Senator Moses Wetang’ula.

The next quarter of the year will the hair-raising period.