It's time for Ruto to accept defeat and move on

Ruto is accused of having taken advantage of Uhuru to buy loyalty and support

In Summary

• The Deputy President failed in trying to show he had the proverbial bigger balls to take on and defeat the system.

• This he could not do, just as many others before him - starting with Jaramogi himself, and later Raila and others.

Deputy President William Ruto during a church service at St Paul’s Catholic in Matungu, Kakamega.
GO DOWN FIGHTING: Deputy President William Ruto during a church service at St Paul’s Catholic in Matungu, Kakamega.
Image: FILE

A typist for Deputy President William Ruto posted something on his Twitter account complaining about how President Uhuru Kenyatta is betraying him.

In response, a well-known political analyst reminded the typist the only thing constant in politics is betrayal, everything else changes.

This is not just an axiom political science students learn in college, it is also something every politician suffers sooner or later.

In Kenya, the first person to suffer this was Jaramogi Oginga Odinga soon after Independence. The man who would later become the doyen of opposition politics was instrumental in Jomo Kenyatta becoming Kenya's first President. However, no sooner had Mzee become President than forces behind the scenes started forming to betray Jaramogi.

One of these forces was none other than the United States itself as its own Central Intelligence Agency, revealed decades later in a document dump online.

According to those documents, Jaramogi was to the Americans “a power-hungry politician who was working behind the back of the country’s founding President, Jomo Kenyatta, to gain power and there was a real possibility that he could have toppled Kenyatta, possibly in a coup.”

This assessment, though publicly disclosed much later, was shared in real-time when it happened soon after Independence. It poisoned Mzee Kenyatta’s mind to the point he banned  Jaramogi’s party and later imprisoned him.

The Americans' hands were not clean in this one as they wanted Jaramogi politically finished for their own political objectives - not for what Jaramogi was doing to help eradicate poverty and other social ills. To the Americans, he was a threat to their geopolitical interest because of his embrace of communism.

The Kenyatta/Uhuru betrayal was consequential in as much as it shaped or influenced Kenyan politics for decades.

One can say the handshake between Uhuru and Raila Odinga buried the hatchet as well as the long-lasting feeling of betrayal, not just between the two families, but between their communities.


There have been many other betrayals in between but one relevant and worth noting here is the one involving Uhuru and Ruto.

Betrayal takes many forms but the one that is relevant here is where one fails or deserts one in time of need, or, conversely, where one undermines and backstabs another person for self-gain and self-aggrandisement at their expense.

The question here is who betrayed whom first?

The CIA document dump says Jaramogi had “packed the civil service with his cronies; he doled out political largesse in terms of scholarships and money to his supporters, and even sponsored political candidates into Parliament and asked them to defeat some government motions.”

The documents also alleged that Jaramogi made secret pacts with communist countries without Kenyatta’s authority, including the training of his own private army.

All that may or may not be all true, but it was enough for Mzee and those around him to jettison Jaramogi.

Ruto is accused of having taken advantage of Uhuru when the latter was asleep at the wheel during their first term, to amass great wealth, use the money to buy loyalty and support, especially in Uhuru’s own backyard where he helped or had loyalists elected to Parliament.

The man from Sugoi walked around at one point with a swagger, believing he was untouchable.

This was a fatal mistake as it was tantamount to committing the same sin Jaramogi was accused of, true or false — plotting a coup against Kenyatta.

Ruto may have not gone that route or even contemplated it, but he did worse in trying to show he had the proverbial bigger balls to take on and defeat the system. This he cannot do, just ls many before him could not, starting from Jaramogi himself, and later Raila and others.

The wise thing for Ruto to do is now is to simply throw in the towel and hope the system leaves him alone to enjoy the wealth he has amassed from his two terms as second man in the country. He can live to seek the presidency another time.

Samuel Omwenga is a legal analyst and political commentator