Deputy President William Ruto’s allies are digging in for a major fightback in the wake of an onslaught targeting them.
This comes despite a conciliatory tone adopted by Mr Ruto in Eldoret on Friday when he hosted President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Several MPs allied to Mr Ruto told the Sunday Nation that they not only planned to sustain their support for the DP, but were also plotting to wage a vicious fight against the State and forces opposed to their 2022 candidate.
The legislators, mainly from Mt Kenya, warned that they would use public rallies, the floors of the National Assembly and the Senate, television and radio stations as well as the social media to advance Mr Ruto’s 2022 agenda.
They also vowed to take the battle to the seat of the president, Harambee House, by moving a bill in parliament to scrap the confidential vote managed by the Interior ministry, which they claim is funding the anti-Ruto campaigns.
That the MPs no longer fear going on record demonstrates the increasing bravado and open defiance in the DP’s camp despite repeated warnings by no less a person than President Kenyatta himself against early campaigns at the expense of development. Ordinarily, the MPs would have requested anonymity when talking about their continued rebellion.
“Since the fund (confidential expenditure) has been politically used against the deputy president, I will be proposing the scrapping of the same to ensure prudent management of public resources and to rein in some rogue public servants who are using the kitty to undermine Ruto,” a defiant Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro told the Sunday Nation.
To many, the unusually bold move could ordinarily be equated to political suicide given that majority of the MPs daring President Kenyatta hail from his central Kenya backyard.
The standoff between the two rival groups comes hot on the heels of Mr Kenyatta’s warning at Kasarani Stadium last Sunday that he would personally de-campaign against those defying his warnings to stop early campaigns.
Forces loyal to the President, including those allied to opposition leaders Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka, have also given unflinching support, promising to shoot down any sinister Bill brought before the House.
Behind the plan to move a Bill to scrap the confidential vote is a perception in the Ruto camp that Interior PS Karanja Kibicho is personally overseeing and using the kitty to fund the anti-DP campaigns.
Confidential vote refers to monies allocated to the security apparatus that are normally not subjected to audit.
Contacted, Mr Kibicho denied (mis) using the kitty to advance the anti-Ruto agenda but dared the MPs to go ahead and move the bill on the floor of the House.
Indicating that they were closely monitoring the development, Mr Kibicho at the same time said that they had nothing to worry about the threat.
“That is their prerogative. If they feel it (the expenditure) is not useful for our country, they can scrap it. We have no problem. They can do as they please,” the powerful PS said, adding thus; “Let’s see how far that gets.”
Team Tangatanga as the pro-Ruto camp is known, maintains it is keen on censuring State functionaries they claim are using the machinery under their watch to intimidate and silence them.
Tactfully though, pro-Ruto MPs from Rift Valley such as Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi, who is among some of the loudest in accusing Mr Kenyatta of betraying his DP, appeared to strike a conciliatory note on Friday when the President visited Eldoret to preside over a revival ceremony of Rivatex textile factory.
“When you are here, you are more at home than anyone else. This is your sitting room. We came together after what happened in 2007 when no one believed we could. There is nothing that will separate us again, not until Jesus Christ comes back,” the vocal lawmaker said.
Mr Nyoro warns that the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in which he sits will be evaluating ‘the police insurance scandal’ to unmask the corrupt ways of the DP’s perceived detractors.
He charges that an insurance firm with the lowest bid was denied the contract at the expense of a little-known insurance firm, which had quoted the highest.
He claimed that a report by the Auditor General has unearthed alarming details on the police insurance firm and vowed to turn tables and summon top Interior officials said to have been involved.
“We won’t take anything lying down, those thinking they will threaten and silence us will be in for a rude shock, in fact we shall be summoning some of them to Parliament to explain their involvement in the scandal,” he threatened.
Kandara MP Alice Wahome, also allied to the Ruto camp, said she was ready to tell Kenyans what was happening without fear about the State’s plan to intimidate them.
She cited a civil suit lodged against her way back in 2012, saying it had been revived by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) with a view to prosecuting her afresh this time round as a criminal matter.
She maintained that the case is civil and succession in nature and has nothing to do with the DCI.
“They are now reviving the old suits all in the name of intimidating us but we won’t be intimidated, we shall expose them by telling Kenyans the truth,” she vowed.
Kirinyaga Woman representative Wangui Ngirici was also up in arms; “Even if some animals are bigger than others, we are all equal in parliament. While we were in Mombasa, another group was in Murang’a but we are the only ones being rebuked, we shall continue accompanying the DP in his development tours and we shall also do the same with the President upon his request,” she said.
She was referring to the group of women MPs allied to Mr Ruto known as “Inua Mama”, which she chairs and has Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa and Laikipia Women Representative Catherine Waruguru within its ranks.
The rival group allied to President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga was launched the same weekend in Murang’a and has within its ranks Kirinyaga governor Ann Waiguru, Homa Bay Woman representative Gladys Wanga, her Nairobi counterpart Esther Passaris, Murang’a Woman rep Sabina Chege and Likoni MP Mishi Mboko.
It is known as “Team Embrace Kenya” and mainly supports the handshake between President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga.
At the same time, the pro-Ruto MPs have claimed that there were plans to silence them through the police, the National Intelligence and the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) due to their ‘unwavering’ support to Mr Ruto’s quest for the presidency.
Mr Nyoro claimed he had received ‘guests from the Auditor General’s office’ who wanted to inspect books of accounts relating to the Kiharu National Government Constituency Development Fund (NGCDF).
“The State operatives have sent emissaries warning me to either keep quite or I face them. They are using the Kenya Revenue Authority to target us by claiming that we don’t pay taxes but we are ready and waiting for them,” said Ms Ngirici.
She said they will oppose what she termed a mooted plan to have President Kenyatta stay in office beyond 2022.
“The plan by a section of leaders is to have the constitution changed and extend the term limit for the President but we shall oppose it,” she said.
Reporting by Joseph Wangui, Ndung’u Gachane and Justus Wanga.