In what is likely to sound the death knell to the Jubilee party, William Ruto has begun to openly stage a rebellion against Uhuru Kenyatta after realising Uhuru is, in the words of Ruto alies, a backstabber of the lowest calibre.
Convinced Uhuru means ill for him, the DP is prepared for the eventuality of Uhuru going flat out to stop his 2022 presidential bid.
That phase one of Uhuru’s sinister schemes against Ruto is well under way was seen recently when the DP was shocked to find no government official, including chiefs, at a public meeting in Tetu, which he presided over.
Interior principal secretary Karanja Kibicho, whom DP’s allies accuse of bankrolling the Stop Ruto Movement, blamed the incident in Tetu on poor communication between the deputy president’s team and the police on the ground, who were informed when it was too late. But Ruto men reminded Kibicho that there were more powerful people before him and told him Chris Murungaru today counts aspirin and piritons in his pharmacy in downtown Nairobi yet only 10 years ago he was a law unto himself.
From state machinery, we have the Fred Matiang’i prong. To show his displeasure with the turn of events, Ruto kept away from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Tuesday night when Uhuru left the country for China.
Usually, the DP and top security officers accompany the president to the airport whenever he leaves the country for an official trip and as in Daniel Moi days, wave until the plane disappears into the clouds.
This time round, the task of escorting the president was left to the powerful Interior cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i.
Matiang’i was captured walking on the presidential red carpet along with the outgoing Chief of Defence Forces General Samson Mwathethe.
In January this year, through an executive order, Uhuru tasked Matiang’i with the onus of chairing the powerful National Development and Communication Cabinet Committee, which is mandated to monitor, supervise and communicate progress of government projects.
The elevation of Matiang’i caused jitters within Jubilee with a section of politicians allied to the DP accusing the president of undermining his principal assistant.
The handshake ghost: Indeed, since the March 9 2018 handshake between Uhuru and Raila Odinga, the head of state has been making statements that have left the 2022 succession race wide open, further fueling speculation on the fate of the deal between him and Ruto.
Uhuru has distanced himself from succession politics and instead vouched for the handshake deal between himself and Raila as his principal assistant crisscrosses the country selling his 2022 presidential bid.
To date, the simmering debate on the 2022 politics has put the relationship between the two at a politically awkward situation.
The situation is compounded further by the invitation of Raila into the fold and marginal attempted gatecrash of Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka. Indeed, it is said that Uhuru brought Raila in to finish Ruto because Uhuru knew that he alone was not equal to the task of denting Ruto’s ambitions.
During his first visit to the Rift Valley since his reelection, local leaders put pressure on him to confirm that his pact with Ruto still held now that he was serving the second and last term.
Before the repeat election, Uhuru spoke strongly about voters in the Rift Valley allowing him to finish his final term and he would in return support Ruto for presidency.
But while in Kapsabet, he ignored the cajoling speeches from the local leaders, including senate majority leader Kipchumba Murkomen and MPs for him to endorse Ruto.
Dodging the political debate, Uhuru only told the crowd in Kapsabet and repeated it in Bomet Green Stadium that the residents should not be worried because “the Jubilee agenda will continue”.
More unnerving for the region was that Uhuru said his main agenda was to unite the country, an apparent reference to his and Raila’s Building Bridges Initiative.
To show that Raila’s entry into a working relationship with Uhuru rattled Ruto’s allies, they welcomed the former PM’s appointment as African Union Representative for Infrastructure Development with a caveat that he should leave politics.
Also, Uhuru’s narrative of the “handshake first and 2022 last” is being amplified by Raila and leaders supportive of the deal including Baringo senator Gideon Moi and Kalonzo.
On the other hand, Ruto’s allies are skeptical on the handshake, describing it as a smokescreen to dishonour the 10-10 power deal between Uhuru and Ruto.
Ruto’s pact with Uhuru to succeed him was further in doubt when the head of state visited Nyeri in October last year and told local leaders that when the time is right he would show them his choice of successor.
Prominent leaders in the populous Mount Kenya region were then jostling to catch the eye of Ruto, to be chosen as his running mate in 2022. Most of the leaders in Mount Kenya are now avoiding Ruto like a plague.
Indeed, since independence, out of 10 vice presidents, only Moi and Mwai Kibaki ascended to the presidency.
While Moi humbled his way to the top, Kibaki was elected through a broad alliance that rallied around him to hound Kanu from power.
To further weaken Ruto’s hold in government, Uhuru has since the handshake been sending home heads of parastatals associated with the DP, with some facing graft charges.
Among the senior government officials, who hail from the Kalenjin community who have found themselves in trouble with the Director of Public Prosecution over graft claims include former Kenya Pipeline boss Joe Sang and NHIF finance director Wilbert Kurgat.
The duo has been linked to massive loss of funds in their organisations and has since been relieved of their duties. Kenya Power boss Ken Tarus and his predecessor Ben Chumo have also been charged with corruption counts related to procurement of faulty transformers at the power distributor. They have also been relieved of their duties. The transfer of Health ministry PS Peter Tum to Labour in the last shuffle was also seen in that light given that Tum is one of the most loyal allies of Ruto. Others however say Tum was moved for being a stumbling block to looters at Mafya House.
But a furious Ruto has been reading mischief in the arrests and transfers, even arguing that the Directorate of Criminal Investigations does not have the constitutional mandate to investigate economic crimes.
He claims the DCI, which is headed by George Kinoti, lacks legal backing to probe economic crimes, adding that it should hand over investigations to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.
Ruto’s line of thought was picked by his allies led by Belgut MP Nelson Koech who drew a line in the sand against Kinoti.
But Uhuru differed, giving a terse response to Ruto and his group, slamming them for politicising the fight against graft and the handshake deal.
Uhuru whom many now believe is paying lip service with his talk on fighting the corrupt as majority of those neck-deep in graft are on his side asserted that the purge against graft was not politically motivated.
Uhuru also faulted a section of Ruto’s allies led by Murkomen who are on record calling for the sacking of Kinoti and DPP Noordin Haji amidst claims of selective fight against corruption.
Befriending Ruto’s political enemies: Many will agree, of late Uhuru wines and dineswith those seen to be against presidential bid. Apart from Raila, Uhuru has hosted Mombasa governor Hassan Joho, Siaya senator James Orengo, Cotu secretary general Francis Atwoli and anti-Ruto MPs led by nominated MP Maina Kamanda. Many aver, by befriending anti-Ruto forces, Uhuru is openly sending signals he has no time for his DP.
Only recently, aware after intelligence reports that Ruto was to skip the launch of Huduma number, Uhuru decided to engage DP potential opponents in 2022 Kalonzo and Musalia Mudavadi.
Uhuru silent as Ruto faces attack: Uhuru has remained studiously silent as the DP is attacked left, right and centre within Jubilee and opposition.When then Jubilee Party vice chairman David Murathe tore into Ruto and also dismissed the existence of a memorandum of understanding between the two, Uhuru never came in open to defend his second in command.
Murathe even vowed to move to the Supreme Court to stop Ruto from contesting the presidency in 2022.
Days later while appearing in a television show he narrated how Ruto manipulates government tenders to his advantage.
He described the DP as a man who could call procurement officers and give them instruction on how to award tenders.
He also revealed that Ruto would be part of the teams that inflate tender costs, adding that he had witnessed that himself.
He also claimed that Raila rescued Uhuru from Ruto allies’ blackmail. All this time Uhuru did not utter a word to defend his deputy while in contrast he is quick to defend Raila.
When Ruto was blocked from meeting ailing Moi at his Kabarak home, Uhuru did not call his friend senator Gideon Moi for assistance to spare his deputy embarrassment. Matters took another dramatic turn when Ruto was to see the elder Moi mourning his elder son late Jonathan. Further, a delegation led by senate speaker Ken Lusaka saw those allied to Ruto fail to meet Moi at his Kabarak home to condole with him.
Sources say despite being welcomed by Gideon, the leaders were denied entry to meet Mzee Moi due to the presence of Ruto’s allies, Baringo governor Stanley Kiptis and Nakuru senator Susan Kihika.
The other leaders in the Lusaka delegation were Kakamega governor Wycliffe Oparanya and Siaya senator James Orengo.
Lusaka had been told not to include Kiptis in his delegation but already the governor had joined the team and “could have been embarrassing to drop him out of the delegation”.
There is talk however that Moi is now too senile to be of any meaningful meeting and that is why the family is keen to stop those who might come out of the meeting and say the state Moi is in.
Many are asking why, Uhuru has failed to reconcile him with Moi.
Uhuru has removed pro Ruto allies from State House: Manoah Esipisu former spokesman, Dennis Itumbi and former State House comptroller Lawrence Lenayapa were booted out on suspicion of being Ruto spies.They have been replaced with faces who have no time for Ruto moreso former Nakuru governor Kinuthia Mbugua as comptroller. This comes as details emerge that Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua tops the list, with a host of others, including Kibicho, who are under instructions to frustrate Ruto.
They are joined by former presidential adviser Nancy Gitau and brother Muhoho Kenyatta in frustrating the DP.
Isolating Ruto: Uhuru has embarked on isolating his deputy as he works on a new political order using the so-called Building Bridges Initiative. The president has openly come out in support of a new constitution to weaken the current presidency and create new political positions through a referendum. Ruto is opposed. To further isolate Ruto and make him look irrelevant, Uhuru has sacked ministers linked to Ruto appointment replacing him with pro-Raila faces.
As a matter of fact, the fight against Ruto by the president is said in some quarters to have everything to do with Uhuru’s plan to succeed himself as executive prime minister. Those of this school of thought say that is why Uhuru is determined to change the constitution. Just like Raila has been playing games on Kalonzo and having MoUs nullified by new developments such as change of names of coalitions, Uhuru wants the constitution changed so that it not only nullifies the MoU with Ruto, but also creates a whole new structure of administration which makes him legible to run.
Tearing Jubilee party: Many expect Ruto to use Jubilee for his presidency. Instead of Uhuru consolidating the party, he has allowed it to be divided avoiding to call parliamentary group meeting to address burning issues and crisis in the party.
To complicate matters is Uhuru decision not to involve Ruto in recent government appointments.