Deputy President William Ruto has, for the first time, opened up on the tribulations he is facing in government even as he vowed to surmount them all.
In an exclusive interview with the Nation, Dr Ruto spoke of the regrouping of a “cabal that went out of its way” to try and stop him and President Kenyatta from ascending to power in 2013, which he said was now plotting to block him from ascending to power in 2022.
This group, he said, was now revising old cases that were dealt with and concluded in a bid to stop him from ascending to the highest office in the land.
The DP said he was also aware of an attempt to revive the International Criminal Court cases and that he even spoke with the National Intelligence Service Director-General, Maj-Gen Philip Kamweru, about it.
Dr Ruto, together with Mr Kenyatta and four other Kenyans, were hauled before the ICC at The Hague over the 2007/08 post-election violence, but the cases later collapsed.
The DP has, for the last several months, been at the centre of a storm. An energetic politician with a calendar of tours around the country, he has in recent days appeared like a man under siege, with ODM politicians and legislators allied to the Kieleweke group of his Jubilee party blaming him for fighting the President by opposing his unity agenda under the Building Bridges Initiative.
His allies also say they have been targeted for reprisals for supporting his 2022 presidential candidacy.
This week, police reopened investigations into a criminal case in which Mr Ruto and others were accused of selling ungazetted forest land to the Kenya Pipeline Corporation (KPC) nearly 20 years ago.
In the bare-it-all interview, the first since the launch of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI report) last year and the resultant political fallout, Dr Ruto said he was aware of more machinations, and that he was prepared to face it all and triumph.
He also spoke of his relationship with President Kenyatta which he says was never about a ''bromance'' or marriage, but a union to put a stop to a cycle of political violence.
“I keeping seeing these stories to my amazement. They say the marriage is on the rocks, that the bromance in no longer there. My friend, Uhuru Kenyatta is married to Margaret, I am married to Rachel. There was no marriage between himself and I, we were elected by the people of Kenya — not because of bromance and all these things you keep talking about. We were elected on a platform to deliver on our campaign promises,” he said.
For the first time, the second-highest ranking official in the country also admitted that the economy was not doing that well and that the small trader and the common man were suffering.
However, he blames the economic meltdown on what he calls the government’s departure, since 2018, from the Big Four agenda to the unity effort under the handshake and BBI.
“People are running a false narrative that all the Jubilee administration has done is steal. It is true we’re facing difficult times, small-scale traders have not had it easy with prices of commodities shooting,” he said.
He went on: “After the 2017 elections, we have tried to assemble the country together, with the BBI taking a bit of the attention from some of these issues. We expended a bit of energy on the national unity project. It is the reason I want us to conclude it as fast as we can to focus on developing the country.”
He also said that the Executive faced resistance from Parliament that failed to pass some laws to entrench the Big Four agenda.
But he fervently defended the government's record in the area of roads, electricity and universal healthcare.
“We have moved this country forward. We have worked on four priority areas to put the country on a growth trajectory. We have done 650 kilometres of SGR. Jubilee has done 7,200 kilometres of tarmacked roads in seven years. That’s an average of 1,000 kilometres per year. Compare this to 11,500 kilometres by 2013 from the time of independence. We have connected 5.3 million Kenyans to the national grid. From 1963 to 2013, before we came to power, only 2.3 million had access to electricity.”
Taking a swipe at proponents of the bid being mooted to create more positions for the political elite, Dr Ruto said the biggest threat facing the country was not lack of positions for the politicians, but a shortage of opportunities for millions of young Kenyans.
He said the way to de-ethnicise Kenya’s politics was not to create additional seats “so three, four, five communities can share”, saying this would be constitutionalising marginalisation.
“Because if you say that you have positions to be shared by five big communities, what happens to the other 37 communities in Kenya? What happens if the five communities agree to lock out the rest forever? The problem we have is accountability. The strength of accountability of any government is going to be determined by the strength of mechanisms and institutions holding it to account.”
On whether he would attend the BBI meeting at Tononoka in Mombasa, he said he will consult with President Kenyatta on whether to attend the meeting, but insisted no one needed permission to give views on BBI.
“There are people who have arrogated themselves the role of chaperons to invite people there. Who gave them that responsibility? We are neither guests, refugees nor visitors in Kenya to be ushered in and out by anybody. BBI must give space to ordinary Kenyans to give their views on how to move forward.”
He went on: “It is not anybody’s business to invite me to Mombasa or compel me not to go. I will have consultations with my boss and we will agree on the attendance of the meeting or subsequent ones.”
Mr Ruto also broke his silence on the recent Cabinet reshuffle that saw his close ally Mwangi Kiunjuri axed, saying the President didn’t consult him because he didn’t need to.
“I went into the arrangement of one party rather than a coalition government, knowing fully well that I was seceding the power to be consulted as a party leader. The President does consult me whenever he feels he needs to and I have always dispensed my advice dutifully.”
Still, he said he believes President Kenyatta will support him in 2022.
He denied undermining him with his tours across the country, saying he gives him all the support and respect.
He narrated his long history of friendship with Mr Kenyatta, saying it was he who was dispatched by President Moi to persuade Mark Too to stand down from his nominated MP position so that the future President could get a seat in the House.
He said he stood by him throughout the campaigns and was one of only three people who went to Serena to concede when other Kanu politicians still thought Moi would do some magic to forestall the loss.
Dr Ruto said the BBI has been hijacked by politicians at the expense of the real needs of the people, adding that he is seeking the BBI team led by Garissa Senator Yussuf Haji to give it his views, but singled out the need to entrench the Office of the Leader of the Opposition in the Constitution.
“If there is any change that I want it would be “an entrenchment of the opposition in the Constitution in the National Government and the counties because the quality of the government is dependent on checks and balances.”
He said there was no opposition now in Kenya and that theft in the counties was going on because the office of the opposition leader in the assemblies is not in the Constitution.