JUBILEE MARRIAGE

Beginning of the end: Anticipated Uhuru-Ruto fallout is finally here

The President and his deputy have all but dropped any pretence at camaraderie and collegiality and seem to have decided to go their separate way

In Summary

• Team Tangatanga , associated with Deputy President William Ruto has become very bold and overt in their opposition to Uhuru.

•  Observers anticipated these turn of events but the abruptness and rapidity of the deterioration came as a shocker.

Jubilee Party leaders President Uhuru Kenyatta with deputy President William Ruto at the Launch of the party Manifesto at Kasarani Indoor Arena June 27,2017
Jubilee Party leaders President Uhuru Kenyatta with deputy President William Ruto at the Launch of the party Manifesto at Kasarani Indoor Arena June 27,2017
Image: ENOS TECHE

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday reorganised his Cabinet and the effects of the Building Bridges Initiative were prominently visible in the changes to government.

Since last year, particularly soon after the launch of the BBI report, the relationship between the President and his deputy has been anything but cordial.

Team Tangatanga , associated with Deputy President William Ruto has become very bold and overt in their opposition to Uhuru.

 

Kandara MP Alice Wahome openly challenged Uhuru’s democratic credentials at a press briefing while holidaying at the coast. Hot on the heels, Ruto threw tantrums at Kieni MP Kanini Kega for purporting to represent the President by delivering his donation to the grieving Gachagua family.

Mathira MP Rigati Gachagua was burying his mother in Nyeri and the DP was there for one his closest champions in Central Kenya.

At the funeral, Ruto, termed the Nyanza BBI forum in Kisii a waste of public funds. He further warned civil servants who facilitated the event together with those ignoring court orders that their days were numbered, and pointedly when he eventually ascends to power.

Observers anticipated these turn of events but the abruptness and rapidity of the deterioration came as a shocker. The New Year seems to have started on a high note as the year of real politic.

The President and his deputy have all but dropped any pretence at camaraderie and collegiality and seem to have decided to go their separate ways but unsure how to proceed without destabilising the apple cart. Yet there is almost no way that the two will part ways without dismantling their political alliance.

 

There will be casualties and collateral damage on both sides of the Jubilee divide. However, this fallout should have been expected as soon as the duo formed their unity ahead of the 2013 elections. Uhuru and Ruto clearly seem to have never shared any vision grounded on ideology but convenience. Marriages of convenience last the period of adversity. They are based on fear more than goodwill.

The 2013 presidential election was won on the premise of two planks, the first being the ICC cases, where they faced crimes against humanity charges. This was a very unlikely circumstance since both had expected the other to be the culprit having been on different sides in the 2007 General Election.

 

Desperate times thus called for desperate measures, and so Uhuru had to join hands with Ruto to save their skins. The only way to thwart the ICC threat was to capture power. In Mwai Kibaki, they found a pliant state machinery willing to do their bidding. With state apparatus and resources at their disposal, the Cord of Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka could not match the onslaught.

The second plank was to win the elections legally with least regard to legitimacy. They thus sort to satisfy the minimum requirements of the Constitution at least cost. This led to the euphemism of the Tyranny of Numbers coined by political scientist Mutahi Ngunyi.

The Kalenjin in unity with the Kikuyu would deliver the 50 per cent plus one constitutional requirement. Getting 25% in at least 24 counties was never going to be any difficult. At the end of the count, the Isaac Hassan-led IEBC declared Uhuru Kenyatta duly elected.

The Mutunga led Supreme Court affirmed this in their ruling in the petition filed by ODM, which incidentally produced the star in lawyer Kethi Kilonzo.

Uhuru and Ruto proceeded to form a government that in practice was a coalition. Uhuru had his side and so was Ruto. In fact, the government was negotiated in such a manner that it was neatly balanced between the two. The first term was spent staving off the opposition threats through the Okoa Kenya Initiative and numerous civil disobedience activities.

They quickly managed to consolidate power which enabled to get a second term. The second term victory was more controversial than the first. The David Maraga led Supreme Court nullified the presidential election and ordered fresh voting,which the opposition led by Raila boycotted calling for electoral reforms.

Raila proceeded to swear himself as the people’s president. To govern, Uhuru had to do something.

UHURU, NOW A DIFFERENT MAN

He reached out to Raila and on March 9, shook hands at Harambee House. It immediately became clear that Uhuru was a different man. Either he never believed in the philosophy they developed with Ruto or circumstances demanded of him more statesmanship. Whichever way, he was no longer with Ruto.

He almost immediately set in motion a series of events that pointed to a marriage in shambles. Earlier, integrity issues such as corruption would be dismissed with contempt.

However, soon after the handshake the war on corruption started with unprecedented vigour. A multi-agency unit was established with new leadership wielding sweeping powers.

Casualties have been on both sides but Ruto has suffered the greatest setback. His allies have found themselves hounded before courts and released on heavy bail terms. They tried to ethnicise the anti-graft purge but that didn't work.

Emboldened by the support from the opposition ranks, Uhuru then moved to close the cash flow for Ruto's activities. Under the guise of fighting money laundering, the Central Bank instituted a raft of measures that had the effect of mopping up excess liquidity from the money market.

Hitherto, the Tangatanga group had become synonymous with flamboyant harambee events targeting churches with humongous cash donations.

BBI REPORT

Then the BBI report, a product of the handshake, was delivered and Ruto crossed the red line. He must have done this deliberately and most likely out of frustration.

He trashed the process and declared it a Raila project meant for 2022 presidential bid. His boss responded by firing his chief strategist in Mt Kenya region, Kiunjuri.

In the State of the Nation Address, Uhuru further defended the BBI and vowed to have it implemented for the good of the country. The die is cast and there seems to be no turning back in the road to dissolution of Jubilee as was known in 2017.

What observers may have missed was that Uhuru and Ruto shared very little if not nothing in political orientation and socialisation. While he was initially a reluctant entrant into politics courtesy of Mzee Daniel Moi, Ruto consciously worked his way into and up the political scale. Uhuru could afford the luxury of political decency on account of his family resource stable background.

Ruto on the hand has had to do whatever it takes to mobilise the necessary economic muscle to sustain his acquired status. Uhuru boasts a politically rich heritage while Ruto has variously declared humble lineage and thus lacks in pedigree.

The President  belongs to the vast national and international political and economic establishment network and can therefore enjoy the comfort of deep state security and ascribe to statesmanship.

Ruto is rank outsider and must adopt Machiavellian skills to survive in the murk, rumble and tumble of high stake presidential leadership. Uhuru easily appeals to international strategic interests because of networks established before him by his benefactors. On the other hand, Ruto has to work extra hard to win the confidence of foreign powers that determine political processes covertly.

It is, therefore, clear that the duopoly of UhuRuto was truly a marriage of convenience and its time is now up. However long it now takes, the marriage is irretrievably untenable. The consequences of the breakup will not be limited to Jubilee but will reverberate across the entire spectrum of the nation.