The war of words that threatens to bring down Jubilee Party continued unabated Tuesday as leaders allied to Deputy President William Ruto intensified their attacks on President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The leaders said the war on corruption is aimed at derailing the construction of mega projects in the Rift Valley and stifling Dr Ruto’s presidential ambition.
Nandi Governor Stephen Sang and MPs Oscar Sudi (Kapseret) and Caleb Kositany (Soy) — without backing their claims with any evidence — said the anti-corruption fight was no longer objective but had been weaponised to deny some regions major development projects.
Speaking at Ziwa in Soy constituency, Uasin Gishu County, during the burial of Mzee Abraham Tirop Barsiari, Mr Sudi said the handshake between the President and ODM leader Raila Odinga was the source of wrangles in the ruling party, and was aimed at scuttling Dr Ruto’s 2022 presidential bid by sabotaging big projects in his backyard.
“We want to remind the President that Rift Valley voted for him overwhelmingly, more than any other region. Why has he sidelined us?” said Mr Sudi.
As they were speaking in Uasin Gishu, Mr Odinga told them off, saying: “The handshake was not meant to bring down the Jubilee Party. Raila will continue donning the ODM jersey, while President Kenyatta will wear his Jubilee colours,” he said at Toi Market in Nairobi.
He further warned Ruto’s allies that “the war on corruption will be intensified no doubt. But I also want to caution that we should also not bring in the issue of tribes in this war. If an individual is corrupt, he or she should carry his own cross and not claim their tribesmen are being targeted,” he said.
“If you are not guilty, then why should you be worried? Let the agencies whose mandate is to investigate and prosecute those implicated in corruption do their work,” he added.
Mr Sudi and Mr Sang spoke in the wake of a mega scam linked to the construction of Arror and Kimwarer dams in Elgeyo Marakwet County.
Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti is leading investigations into how Sh21 billion allocated to the two projects was used.
The move came after it emerged that nothing had been done on the ground yet billions had been spent since 2017.
“We want to categorically tell the President that we don’t want anything for free; we want our rightful share. Our people cannot be poor yet we are in government,” added Mr Sudi.
The Kapseret MP recently had a run-in with the President over claims that the Head of State and Mr Odinga should also be investigated for corruption.
The President told him off last week, saying ranting at “funerals” would not help him. He asked the MP to present those claims at the DCI offices near Karura Forest in Nairobi.
Dr Ruto has already questioned the way investigations are being done, saying they should not target predetermined projects or individuals.
On Tuesday, Mr Sudi — while attending yet another funeral ceremony — was not relenting, asking the President to say if they had done him any wrong so they could apologise.
He said the ongoing war on corruption had been politicised and was aimed at kicking out people allied to the Deputy President from plum government jobs.
“Mr President, if you have an issue with your DP, why don’t you call us as Jubilee leaders and we talk,” said Mr Sudi.
Governor Sang, who has also criticised the war on graft, said the fight was meant to intimidate leaders allied to the DP.
“The DCI is no longer independent. He is being used as an errand boy to wage political wars,” said Mr Sang. The leaders also took issue with the handshake, saying it was the cause of all the troubles facing the ruling party.
The governor said Mr Odinga has a history of deceit, and cautioned the President against trusting the ODM leader too much.
“You are now working with somebody who performed a treasonous act. Mr President, why are you putting us in this awkward position?” posed Mr Sang, referring to the mock swearing-in of Mr Odinga as ‘the people's president’ in January last year.
He said some forces that seemed to be afraid of Dr Ruto’s presidency are working day and night to ensure he does not rise to the country’s top seat.
“Ruto is the son of God and Kenyans. The son of a peasant should be President. If you don’t want to implement development projects in the region, we will do them in 2022 when our time comes,” said Mr Sang.
Mr Sudi told off those accusing the DP over the maize crisis, adding that many reforms being enjoyed by farmers were initiated by Dr Ruto when he served as the Agriculture minister during the Grand Coalition government.
“The DP is not the President so as to personally take charge and address the farmers’ plight. To be sincere, the fertiliser crisis has been created to paint the DP as having failed in his backyard,” Mr Sudi said.
Some of the rebels from the DP’s backyard — MPs Alfred Keter (Nandi), Sila Tiren (Moiben) and Joshua Kuttuny (Cherangany) — were on Tursday on the receiving end for “being used to undermine the DP politically”.
The trio have spoken strongly against claims that the graft war is targeting the DP’s allies, saying all those who have stolen public money must face the law.
On Monday, Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos dismissed those opposed to DCI investigations, saying all investigative institutions should be allowed to do their work unhindered.
Ruto’s allies also opposed calls for a referendum, claiming it is a ploy to create political positions for some leaders.
“The country’s economy cannot sustain a referendum. We are grappling with a lot of other pressing issues, including lack of fertiliser for farmers,” said Mr Sudi.
Mr Kositany said Mr Kenyatta had changed tremendously since he entered into a political truce with Mr Odinga.
“We had a very humble Uhuru, but today we have a very temperamental president. We don’t know what happened after the handshake. What spell has been cast on you?” Mr Kositany posed.
“Your legacy is with the people who voted for you. We believed in you when other people were calling you names, why abandon us now?”
He urged the President to convene an urgent Jubilee parliamentary group meeting to iron out thorny issues in the party.