Executive fight: Ruto on the back foot as rival camp piles pressure

Tuesday March 24 2020
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Deputy President William Ruto. Dr Ruto bears a 2022 sell-by date, but he is damaged goods already. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA

By KWENDO OPANGA

Belt up. A make-or-break move against Deputy President William Ruto is imminent. One, the only thing Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti did not do was put the DP on what American law enforcement calls the perp walk.

In a perp walk, a soon-to-be-arraigned person is walked through a throng of excited media and curious onlookers as a public spectacle. In an equivalent parade of shame, Mr Kinoti proudly prosecuted the DP from a news conference.

Dr Ruto was absent only because he is not an inmate. He was, however, publicly fingered as having blood on his hands. His office, the land’s second highest, was portrayed as home to fakery and deal-cooking crooks.

Mr Kinoti left no doubt the DP was a person of interest in the cold-blooded murder of his security guard and subsequent cover-up as a suicide.

His prosecutorial tour de force was a tipping point in this long-running operatic saga.

Dr Ruto finally cracked up under pressure and let rip. He painted Mr Kinoti as a hireling of those fighting to derail his political ambition.

He said the system was out to get him. He thus armed his enemies with ammo to go after him.

Two, MPs from both Houses of Parliament called news conferences and queued up to attack the DP, who is their party leader and Kenya’s second in command. They asked him to walk or be forced to jump.

The moves are aimed at forcing the DP’s hand towards resignation and away from impeachment. But the message is unequivocal: quit or face impeachment.

That exposes the crisis in the Executive, which comprises the President, Deputy President and the Cabinet.

This crisis of politics and governance entered the public domain in 2018.

President Kenyatta suddenly publicly attacked his deputy of five years as a wandering young man who needed to be tied down to work for the populace.

The tone of the President told a tale of intent and determination but not the cause.

There had been a private falling-out; henceforth it would play out in public; and Dr Ruto was going to pay.

Thereafter, the President set about fighting the DP publicly and via proxies.

By tying his attack on Dr Ruto to delivery of services, President Kenyatta portrayed his Number Two as out of kilter with a key mandate of government and party of government.

He sought to curry favour with the public while eliciting their disfavour for the DP.

What started as a war for the hearts and minds of Kenyans fought on terms set by their President soon mutated into a multipronged war of attrition.

It was enjoined by many, with several factors coming into play, among them the change agent, the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

The other dynamics included the Constitution and the way it protects the office of the Deputy President; the person of the DP; the agreement by which Mr Kenyatta would support his 2022 presidential bid; and his betrayal.

Kenya’s presidency consists of the Office of the President and the Office of the Deputy President.

The reason is obvious: the Constitution envisaged a teamship and partnership of the holders to spearhead seamless delivery of services to Kenyans.

Second, the Constitution makes it difficult for the President to sack his deputy.

There was a good reason: President Moi turned the Vice-President’s office into a playground and the holder into malleable clay for his political schemes.

Third, the Constitution makes the deputy presidency a substantive office with defined duties and states clearly he not only deputises and is principal assistant, but also acts as President when so designated in the President’s absence.

Last, though votes are not cast for the running mate but for the person gunning for the presidency, the Constitution makes one as regarded elected when the ticket on which one runs is victorious. It was important for the framers to state that the DP is elected.

Three, elected representatives have personal and vested interests to champion and protect.

This by acquisition of, and proximity to, power. If an elected DP threatens their interests they will eject him.

And currently, the momentum is not with the DP, but with Kenyatta & Odinga Bros.

That is the proprietor of BBI. BBI is the sole carrier of the 2022 Kenyatta II succession, to which party the President has disinvited Dr Ruto.

Dr Ruto bears a 2022 sell-by date, but he is damaged goods already.

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