Prominent Uasin Gishu businessman Zedekiah Bundotich Kiprop has taken the battle to Deputy President William Ruto, accusing his close aides of demanding bribes from people who want to see him.
The businessman, popularly known as Buzeki, took aim at Dr Ruto, telling him to change his aides if he wants to win the 2022 presidential contest.
While addressing a group of supporters at his home in Ainabkoi, Uasin Gishu County, on Sunday, Mr Kiprop specifically identified one prominent aide of the DP whom he branded a “tax collector”, saying they had developed the habit of asking for money from desperate people who wanted to meet Dr Ruto.
The sentiments became public on Tuesday in a video posted on social media, as journalists were barred from the Sunday meeting at his home.
Mr Kiprop vied for the governorship post in the 2017 polls but lost to Jackson Mandago. Mr Mandago garnered 193,606 votes against Mr Kiprop's 148,121.
On Sunday, he announced that he had formally ditched Jubilee for Chama Cha Mashinani led by former Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto.
In the two-minute video, in which he spoke in Kalenjin, the businessman sensationally claimed that the aide was tarnishing the DP’s office by demanding Sh50,000 from those seeking to see him.
“These are the people who have held the DP’s office hostage. When someone, including old women, want to see the DP he demands Sh50,000. Where do you expect a poor mother to get Sh50,000? This man is a tax collector,” said an agitated Mr Kiprop.
He said the aides are muddying Dr Ruto’s name and those of fellow Kalenjins. “The DP’s office has been spoilt by these people to the extent that every Kalenjin walking in Nairobi streets is seen as a con man because of some two or three people spoiling the community’s name.
"This stupidity must stop. This time we are going to speak the truth without hiding anything from anyone,” he added.
Since he abandoned Dr Ruto’s camp, Mr Kiprop has addressed a number of meetings in Uasin Gishu where he has accused Dr Ruto’s allies of pushing him out of the ruling party.
The said aide had not responded to the accusations last evening despite the Nation calling him to clarify the matter. He also did not respond to text messages requesting for a response.
However, in a post on his Facebook page he shared Mr Kiprop’s video and derided it without addressing the claims.
He said that Mr Kiprop does not have the right to force his beliefs on other people. “It’s good to share your beliefs with like-minded people and those with different points of view. But forcing those beliefs on others is completely different,” he said.
On Tuesday, MP Caleb Kositany rubbished Mr Kiprop’s claims and urged him to stop dragging other people’s names into his political problems.
“He defected silently without our knowledge. We have no reason to frustrate anybody. When somebody is trying to make a wrong move, he should not drag us into his failures. We know why he is doing this. He wants to mix business with politics,” said Mr Kositany.
He said Dr Ruto is accessible and nobody had been blocked or charged to see him.
National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale last year admitted that the said aide is a powerful figure who holds the key to the DP’s office.
Speaking at a burial in Turbo, Mr Duale heaped praise on the aide, highlighting his ability to control high-octane requests. “In the office of the DP the person who can give or deny you access is that aide,” Mr Duale said .
“He can even push your request to a different day but he ensures that that happens,” he said. Mr Kiprop is not the only leader who has severed links with Dr Ruto citing frustration and insults.
Dr Ruto also lost Elgeyo-Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos to Senator Gideon Moi’s camp recently.