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Ruto to brave wave of humiliation and quit threats: Allies

Monday January 13 2020
RUTPIC

Deputy President William Ruto addressing the media during the Intergovernmental Budget and Economic Council meeting at his Karen office on November 11, 2019. He has looked helpless in the face of the apparent State onslaught. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By OSCAR OBONYO

Typical of marital divorce, one of the spouses in the current political union is increasingly being denied access to certain facilities and being locked out in the cold.

Deputy President William Ruto is in Jubilee to stay and no amount of embarrassment or threats will deter him.

This assertion comes only days after intensified behind-the-scenes political battles seemed to rock the political marriage between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy.

Just last week, it emerged that DP Ruto was denied access to his Mombasa official residence and his personal effects removed from the premises.

The DP, who was scheduled to spend the night at the residence, returned after a day-long mission in the county on Wednesday to find his staff packing his personal belongings.

Upon inquiry, he was told that government staff had received instructions to remove his personal effects from the house.

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He was forced to look for alternative accommodation at English Point Marina in Nyali.

RUTO, TAKE HEART

But National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale says the DP is unmoved by the humiliating acts.

“Those are small issues that do not bother the DP. He is a constitutional office holder and those public servants who want to either embarrass or humiliate the DP must learn from the history of their predecessors in the post-independent governments of presidents Jomo Kenyatta, Daniel Moi and Mwai Kibaki.”

The import of Mr Duale’s brief rejoinder is that DP Ruto has opted to stay put whatever the humiliation that comes his way.

And the examples of Mr Moi and Mr Kibaki, who endured mistreatment while serving as vice-presidents, suffices.

Under the senior Kenyatta, Mr Moi was regarded as “a mere passing cloud” by members of Kenyatta’s kitchen Cabinet, dubbed the Mt Kenya Mafia, who utterly disregarded his authority.

Mr Kibaki, on the other hand, even got the sack as VP in 1988 and was moved to the Ministry of Health as minister.

LEGAL POSITION

But both Mr Moi and Mr Kibaki managed to ascend to the presidency and this is the political trajectory DP Ruto’s backers believe their man will emulate.

“Those humiliating the DP are doing zero work. He is unmoved and perhaps they need to be reminded that humiliating Ruto amounts to demeaning the President, Jubilee Party, the government and the entire Kenyan population,” Mr Duale told the Nation.

Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen instead challenged those unhappy with the Deputy President to resign from the party and the government.

“Our position is clear. Anyone who is unhappy with Dr Ruto should resign immediately. Jubilee will even be stronger without them,” he said.

In a tweet after a press conference where MPs were calling for DP Ruto’s resignation, Mr Murkomen, who is also the Elgeyo-Marakwet senator, said:

“The Deputy President is not an employee of the President. They willingly came together, jointly employed by the people of Kenya. The respect you are demanding for the President is the same respect the President is demanding for his deputy.”

Curiously, ODM chairman John Mbadi is equally not enthusiastic about the DP resigning from office.

HIS OWN ENEMY

Instead, Mr Mbadi advises Mr Ruto to take a break — for a month or even two — and soberly reflect on the current goings-on in the country.

“Ruto is his own enemy because he has been on a self-imposed marathon campaign, thereby putting himself under pressure and at loggerheads with the President. He needs time to read the mood of Kenyans and the pulse of the country,” says the National Assembly’s Minority Leader.

The domestic pressure notwithstanding, DP Ruto apparently still enjoys honour and respect as Kenya’s Number Two.

During his tour of Namibia and Botswana last month, for instance, the two governments separately accorded him full honours by putting government cars and planes at his disposal.

The Botswana government had a plane fly the DP and his entourage back to Nairobi.

And, just before Christmas, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni separately pledged Sh10 million towards the construction of the William Ruto Institute of African and Leadership Studies at Makerere University.

Back home, there is no denying whatsoever that the glue that has for long loosely held together the cracks in Jubilee is fast melting and the fissures are clearly visible.

PUBLIC SHOW OF UNITY

Despite the two leaders’ public show of unity, the earliest hints that all was not well between Mr Kenyatta and DP Ruto were given by former Jubilee vice-chairman David Murathe who, in October last year, declared that the President’s party would not support the DP’s presidential bid.

Then last month, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i pointed out that “boma haitawaliwi na wazee wawili (a homestead is not headed by two men).

The DP and his allies have been openly subjected to State harassment and ridicule, with some like Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria and Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro attributing their plight to their decision to support DP Ruto’s presidential bid.

The DP himself has looked helpless in the face of the apparent State onslaught, choosing instead to criticise the very government where he is second in command.

WHITTLE DOWN INFLUENCE

Since the symbolic Handshake between President Kenyatta and Orange party leader Raila Odinga in March 2018, State House has systematically moved to whittle down the DP’s political influence in government.

The President has also cut his political influence to size. He issued an executive order in January last year, for instance, granting Dr Matiang’i supervisory roles across government ministries, an act that the DP’s backers viewed as taking away his principal assistant’s powers.

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