By now, it’s quite evident to Deputy President William Ruto that ascending to the highest office in the country is an uphill battle.
Ruto has found the going tough for him despite having embarked on early presidential campaigns.
For the better part of 2019, he crisscrossed the country in a hunt for votes, while ostensibly unveiling government projects. That’s where the rain started beating the beleaguered son of a peasant from Sugoi.
His first mistake was breaching a law of power that clearly states: “Never outshine your master.” Protocol in government dictates that national government projects be launched and unveiled by the president upon their completion. Ruto chose to snatch this task from Uhuru Kenyatta.
Not that launching projects was a bad idea, but he grabbed the chance to market himself as the ideal candidate to succeed Uhuru Kenyatta as the country’s next CEO.
As Ruto chose to hit the campaign trail, President Uhuru Kenyatta was keen on rolling out his Big Four Agenda for the country as part of his legacy. He felt isolated because, Ruto, the man he had expected would help him spearhead the program was busy massaging his own interests.
The DP even went ahead and coalesced some public servants around him, among them former Cabinet Secretary for Sports Hilary Echesa. Echesa would later be shown the door after the president accused him of focusing more on politics than service delivery. It was the first clear signal that things were falling apart between the president and his deputy. Ruto however chose to ignore the smoke.
At one time, the president in one of his diatribes that eventually gave rise to the term Tangatanga, openly expressed disappointment with his deputy, censuring him for traveling the country in search of votes instead of helping him to deliver services to the people.
Amidst the bitter protests and turning a blind eye to the president’s rebuke, Ruto relentlessly went on with his campaigns.
His ambition was irreparably creating a wedge between him and his boss.
The March 9 Handshake
It didn’t come as surprise then, when Uhuru extended an olive branch to his hitherto political foe Raila Odinga, a historical step that gave birth to the March 9 Handshake, by which time, the president had had enough of his deputy. Much to Uhuru’s relief, Raila Odinga was a willing participant in the deal.
With Mr. Odinga on his side, the president increasingly regarded Ruto as a liability for his legacy. He kept shoving him aside, even failing to invite him to some key state functions, instead preferring to be flanked by the former prime minister.
Things started turning nasty for Ruto as he and his close allies increasingly found themselves in Uhuru Kenyatta’s bad books. A purge targeting Team Tangatanga began in earnest. After Echesa, out went National Treasury Cabinet Secretary CS Henry Rotich over his involvement in the Arror Kimwarer Dam saga.
President Uhuru Kenyatta fired Rotich and named in acting capacity Ukur Yattani, a former lawmaker who served as ambassador to Austria and became Marsabit governor before his appointment to the Cabinet last year.
It was just the beginning of Ruto’s downfall. To clip his political influence, Jubilee Party replaced all his allies at the party’s National Management Committee (NMC). Ruto was livid, terming the move as “illegal and fraudulent”.
Jubilee secretary-general Raphael Tuju, however, defended the proposed names, saying, they were sanctioned by the party leader, who is Mr. Ruto’s boss.
The purge later shifted to parliament where Kipchumba Murkomen, Kithure Kindiki, Susan Kihika, and Aden Duale, were all stripped of their influential positions in the August House.
A Jubilee coalition Senate Parliamentary Group Meeting chaired by President Kenyatta ousted Mr. Kipchumba Murkomen (Majority Leader) and Susan Kihika (Majority Chief Whip) and replaced them with West Pokot Senator Samuel Poghisio and Murang’a’s Irungu Kang’ata, respectively.
Kithure Kindiki was kicked out of his position as Senate Deputy Speaker. 54 out of 67 senators supported Kindiki’s removal motion. while only seven stood with the DP and Kindiki.
Those who supported Kindiki included senators Kipchumba Murkomen of Elgeyo Marakwet, Susan Kihika of Nakuru, Samson Cherargei of Nandi, Aaron Cheruiyot of Kericho, Christopher Lang’at of Bomet, and Meru’s
Aden Duale The Latest Casualty In A series Of Purge
Most recently, Garissa Town MP Aden Duale has been kicked out as Majority Leader of the National Assembly.
The changes were once again made during a Jubilee Coalition Parliamentary Group meeting chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta whereby Kipipiri Member of Parliament Amos Kimunya replaced him as the new Majority Leader with
Aden Keynan taking his position as the new Coalition Secretary.
Ruto is becoming a lone ranger, only surrounded by his diehards, with Ndindi Nyoro standing out among them. Lately, he has been hosting potential voters at his Karen home with the help of Nairobi legislators, George Theuri (Embakasi West), Nixon Korir (Langata), John Kiarie (Dagoretti South), John Gakuya (Embakasi North) and Benjamin Gathiru Mwangi (Embakasi Central).
Ruto’s chances in 2022 have now become quite unpredictable unlike in the past when he was assured of automatically getting a nod from the president as his successor. The opinion is divided as to whether he still enjoys full support in Uhuru’s Mt. Kenya backyard. Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro has been his most vocal supporter in the region.
Other MPs Gichimu Githinji (Gichugu), and Alice Wahome (Kandara). Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata and Isaac Mwaura (nominated) deserted him as soon as Uhuru Kenyatta began cracking the whip on defiant party members.
With Nyanza absolutely out of his reach, the DP has been courting Western Kenya in the hope of upsetting Raila Odinga in the vote-rich region. Unconfirmed reports have it that he is in talks with Amani National Congress (ANC) party leader Musalia Mudavidi and embattled former Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetangula. Both Mudavadi and Wetangula enjoy significant support in the region but far much below the fanatical following Raila Odinga commands.
Other sources say that more than a dozen MPs from the region who had earlier pronounced their support for the DP are now warming up to ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi,
This was confirmed by Lugari MP Ayub Savula who said that Western legislators had woken up to the reality that Ruto’s chances of succeeding Uhuru in 2022 had reduced.
“Most of the MPs feel the DP’s presidential bid is being weakened by the ongoing purge of his allies from Jubilee party leadership positions and replaced by those friendly to President Uhuru Kenyatta, and may not be able to succeed his boss,” Savula said in Malava on Saturday.
Ukambani, with more than 1.6 million voters is posing a major headache for him especially after the region’s political kingpins Kalonzo Musyoka, Charity Ngilu and Dr. Alfred Mutua said they would work closely with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration.
There, only has Machakos Senator Johnston Muthama is actively fighting for him. Deputy President William Ruto’s scheme to penetrate Ukambani has triggered a bitter falling-out between Wiper boss Kalonzo Musyoka and former Machakos Senator Johnson Muthama.
Muthama, who has since fallen out with Kalonzo has vowed to rally the region firmly behind the deputy president.
“I Will Ensure Ruto Becomes President,” Says Muthama.
“I will ensure William Ruto becomes the fifth president of Kenya. And for the record, I am not being expelled from Wiper. I vomited Wiper in 2017, excuse me!” he said at a press conference on Thursday at his Gigiri home.
At the Coast, Ruto’s political fortunes have taken a nosedive too as allies continue to desert him. Most of his noisy supporters in the region, Aisha Jumwa of Malindi, Garsen MP Ali Wario and Kaloleni MP Paul Katana, have curiously gone mum.
Threats by the Orange party to expel or de-whip errant members and the state backing Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho currently enjoys, are said to have intimidated his vocal lieutenants in the region.
The DP will now be forced to rely on the Rift Valley bloc vote while crossing his fingers in the hope that Mt. Kenya returns the favor he did in 2013 and 2017 when he rallied the whole of his Kalenjin community in support of Uhuru Kenyatta’s stab at the presidency.