Deputy President William Ruto’s allies hit back Monday at those seeking to block him from succeeding President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2022, saying his march to State House is unstoppable.
The DP’s allies chose a bull fighting event at Malinya grounds in Kakamega County to fire a New Year warning after a section of Jubilee leaders — led by vice chairman David Murathe — last week asked Dr Ruto to retire with President Kenyatta.
While at the Maragoli cultural festival at Mbale, Vihiga County, last Friday, Mr Murathe also rubbished a pact that ushered Jubilee to power in 2013 as one between the DP and Mr Kenyatta, saying Central Kenya would not automatically support Dr Ruto in 2022.
Central Kenya leaders have since called for Jubilee Party elections with a view to oust Mr Murathe and address simmering fissures over the succession.
On Monday, Dr Ruto listened studiously as Senate Majority leader Kipchumba Murkomen led other lawmakers and former Kakamega Senator Bonni Khalwale in vouching for his presidency, saying it would guarantee peace and transfer of power to a son of an ordinary Kenyan. Dr Ruto did not comment on the succession debate.
Mr Murkomen accused some unnamed people of sowing discord in the Jubilee Party and used Lucky Dube’s lyrics ‘Nobody can stop Reggae’ as a parallel for Dr Ruto’s quest for the presidency.
“The next election will be a defining moment when Kenya will be ruled by a son of a local farmer who was never in government leadership,” he said.
The next story has been politically framed as a contest between dynasties and hustlers, an axis pitting those who have been in power and those who have not been.
He said people can change their narratives about the presidency and the pre-election pact but they cannot stop Dr Ruto from succeeding President Kenyatta.
He said since Mr Kenyatta and Dr Ruto came together, there has been tranquillity between the Kikuyu and Kalenjin communities in the Rift Valley who had been used to conflicts every election year.
“Some people don’t just like seeing Kenyans coming together and staying peacefully. They will formulate stories and theories to cause hatred. But we understand their game and we shall not dance to their tune because our eyes are set on the ball,” added Mr Murkomen.
Whether there was a pact that Central Kenya would support Dr Ruto in 2022 has been a point of conflict between the self-styled Kalenjin and Kikuyu councils of elders, with the former insisting one exists and the latter denying.
Three MPs from Kilifi — Aisha Jumwa, Christine Zawadi and Gertrude Mbeyu — also asked President Kenyatta to restrain Mr Murathe over his tribal remarks which threatened the handshake.
Kabete MP Kimani Ichungwa led a section of Jubilee MPs from Central, including Mr Antony Kimani (Mukurweini) and Mr Mwangi Gichuhi (Tetu), to dismiss claims that there exists no Jubilee MoU to support Ruto’s 2022 presidential bid. They were joined by Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri.
“The MoU exists between a leader and the voters depending on service delivery. In this case, we have a MoU between Jubilee members, our candidate William Ruto and the electorate,” said Mr Ngunjiri.
Their position was countered by that announced at the Kabiruini grounds in Nyeri where elders conducted a national thanksgiving ceremony and said there was no pact on Dr Ruto succeeding President Kenyatta.
Among the leaders present was Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga and MPs Paul Koinange (Kiambaa) and Ngunjiri Wambugu (Nyeri Town).
Mr Murathe had said the only deal on the table was to support the UhuRuto presidency for two terms and asked the DP to retire alongside President Kenyatta come 2022.
Yesterday in Kakamega, the legislators said Mr Murathe was not their spokesperson. “The Kikuyu community will stand and support Dr Ruto because we agreed on this in 2013 when Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto started their journey to State House,” said Mr Kimani.
He said Jubilee members, in 2013, agreed to support Mr Kenyatta for 10 years as President who will then hand over to Dr Ruto for another 10 years, something that was repeated in several campaign rallies. “I don’t know why some people want to take us back when we completed our plan to lead for 20 years. As Jubilee, we are prepared as a national party with prudential candidates for 20 years and nothing has changed,” said Mr Gichuhi.
Mr Washiali called on ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi to opt out of the presidential contest in 2022 and support Dr Ruto.
Mr Mudavadi stepped down in favour of ODM leader Oginga Odinga last year but he has been mentioned as “the person we can work with” by Mr Murathe’s team.
“Ruto presidency should not leave the Luhya community out of government. That is why I am reaching to my senior brother Musalia Mudavadi to reconsider his decision and join the Deputy President so that they form the next government together,” he said.
That Dr Ruto and his men chose another cultural event to respond to a political statement made at another traditional ceremony in the same region spoke volumes: the local Luhya community has traditionally not voted in one basket.
Reporting by Shaban Makokha, Irene Mugo, and Charles Lwanga