The tribulations facing Deputy President William Ruto appear to mount with each passing day, after it emerged that he was denied access to his official residence in Mombasa on Wednesday.
Multiple sources in the DP’s and President Uhuru Kenyatta’s circles intimated to the Sunday Nation that the relationship between the two has irretrievably broken down, despite their half-hearted attempts to project an image of solidarity in public.
Sources revealed that Mr Ruto arrived in Mombasa midmorning on Wednesday and proceeded to attend to his scheduled business of the day.
In the evening, he was scheduled to spend the night at the newly-refurbished former Coast Provincial Commissioner’s official residence.
The house was converted into the DP’s official residence in a bid to cut costs when the DP travels to the coast region.
In the evening, at around 4 pm, he retreated to the residence, where he found staff packing his personal belongings, which had been lodged there earlier in the day in anticipation that he would spend the night there.
According to sources, the DP was taken aback by the turn of events and, upon further inquiry, he was told that government staff had received instructions to remove Mr Ruto’s personal effects from the house.
“His personal clothes and other belongings had already been put in various rooms. It is essentially a home and, therefore, his personal effects were in place that morning. Around 4 pm, a call came from a senior government official to the government employees there that all the DP’s personal effects should be removed. It was a shocker,” said a source.
Mr Ruto was forced to look for accommodation at English Point Marina in Nyali, where he spent the night. He came back to Nairobi the following day.
When contacted for comment, his deputy spokesman Emmanuel Talaam was cagey about the events of that day. “I have no idea why the DP has not moved into the house,” he said.
“He spent (the night) at his usual place when in Mombasa, which is at the English Point Marina. The DP’s residence is complete and ready to be occupied. Probably someone is unhappy that the DP will have a base to coordinate his activities at the coast if he moves in. It is all politics,” he said.
Coast Regional Commissioner John Elungata did not respond to our phone calls and text messages sent to his phone.
Government Spokesperson Col (rtd) Cyrus Oguna refused to be drawn into the matter.
“There are more critical issues to be addressed and that to me is a non-issue. Whether the DP is moving in today or tomorrow, in my view, is not an area of discussion. I would have hoped you asked me about the rains which have subsided or the locusts’ issue. There are very critical things you can focus on,” he said.
State House Spokesperson Kanze Dena directed us back to Mr Ruto’s communication team for comment.
In 2018, the government resolved to spend Sh152.4 million to refurbish the DP’s second official residence in Mombasa County before the 2022 General Election.
In November 2018, the Office of the Deputy President (ODP) hired a contractor to upgrade the former residence of the Coast PC and turn it into the DP’s official home.
Mr Samuel Kilele, a former Coast PC and regional coordinator, was the last occupant of the house.
The refurbishment was overseen by Mr Shadrack Mwadime, the secretary of administration in the ODP.
During official working tours in the Coast region, Mr Ruto was expected to stay at the new residence as opposed to beach hotels as has been the case in the past.
In Nairobi, he prefers to reside at his private home instead of the palatial official Karen property that sits on 10 acres of land.
The Deputy President uses the Sh400 million Karen residence for official functions, especially the hosting of political delegations.
The humiliation the DP has suffered in the hands of his juniors mirrors the harassment that the men around Mzee Jomo Kenyatta meted out on Vice-President Daniel arap Moi in the 1970s as Kenyatta’s succession heated up.
Although Mr Moi went on to be President for 24 years, from 1978 to 2002, in the last two years before he succeeded Kenyatta, he went through trying moments.
Moi endured humiliation, some of it physical, from opponents, who included powerful men who had access to Kenyatta, even junior police officers.
British author Andrew Morton, in his authorised biography on Moi, noted that Mr Moi was twice assaulted by Mr James Mungai, a senior police commandant in the then Rift Valley Province, during the Kenyatta era.
But even in the face of the humiliation Mr Ruto has been receiving lately from government functionaries, it is not lost on political observers that Mr Kenyatta, unlike his predecessors, does not have the option of sacking his deputy, since they were elected on a joint ticket.
Sources said that the two still exchange customary phone calls but don’t talk daily as it used to be during their better days.
The closest the public has seen that all is not well was at the launch of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report in November last year when President Kenyatta allowed the DP to speak before ODM leader Raila Odinga, going against protocol.
At the burial of Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua’s mother Martha Kirigo Gachagua last week, the DP chastised Kieni MP Kanini Kega for stating that he had been sent by the President with a Sh500,000 donation for the grieving family.
Ordinarily, Mr Ruto would be the one to represent the President at such functions.