Deputy President William Ruto and President Uhuru Kenyatta at the commissioning of the Rivatex East Africa Limited Textile Production Plant and the Moi University Technologies Digital Assembly Plant on June 21, 2019.
BETTER DAYS: Deputy President William Ruto and President Uhuru Kenyatta at the commissioning of the Rivatex East Africa Limited Textile Production Plant and the Moi University Technologies Digital Assembly Plant on June 21, 2019.
Image: DPPS

“Clueless, rudderless, leaderless and disorganised.”

DP William Ruto bellowed these to a charged crowd at Kasarani Stadium on September 10, 2016, in a furious attack  on at the opposition.

Raila Odinga’s Nasa side had raised the stakes in their activated fight to send President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration home.

About 12 parties were dissolved on that day to form a united Jubilee Party to face off with the opposition.

But the fanfare of the event has since faded into a sea of uncertainty for the Ruto side, a quagmire of bitterness.

The camaraderie died and Kenyans see fewer – if any – pictures of President Kenyatta and Ruto together nowadays. The tables appear to have turned in favour of the Raila side, as in the Building Bridges Initiative.

The crackdown on, purge and surveillance of Ruto’s allies is a sharp contrast with the colourful 2016 event. Analysts conclude Ruto has no future in Jubilee and should look elsewhere as he nurses what appear to be his failed ambitions for 2022.

DP Ruto’s claims in June last year that Cabinet Secretaries from Mt Kenya were plotting to kill him was a sign that things were going terribly wrong.

Cabinet Secretaries Sicily Kariuki (Water), Joe Mucheru  (ICT),; Peter Munya (Agriculture) were questioned at Mazingira House over the alleged plot.

The plot was allegedly hatched at Hotel La Mada, Nairobi. Those linked to the murder plot denied the claims.

Since then, Jubilee has had its fair share of upheavals, with Ruto taking away more than 140 MPs to his side. What followed was an elaborate scheme to cut the DP down to size and destroy his ambitions for the country’s top job.

The DP in March claimed AP officer Kipyegon Kenei, who was attached to his office, was killed to scare him.

Later in May, 16 MPs allied to him were removed from plum National Assembly committees jobs. The purge took down big names such as Garissa MP Aden Duale who lost the Majority leader seat to his Kipipiri counterpart Amos Kimunya.

Also toppled were his Senate counterpart Kipchumba Murkomen, Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichungwa, Benjamin Washiali (Mumias East) and Moses Kuria (Gatundu South).

A number of lawmakers associated with the DP are also in court on various charges. Anti-graft agencies have denied politicising the raft fight.

Ruto’s side has been demanding accountability in the Jubilee Party. Several of his attempt to enter the Pangani headquarters have been thwarted.

In October, Secretary General Raphael Tuju banned the DP from the headquarters – now under 24-hour guard police guard.

Soy MP Caleb Kositany,  a fierce Ruto defender, told the Star ,“Jubilee stopped functioning as a party and is now a subsidiary of ODM.”

“The Opposition is running government,” he told the Star via SMS, reflecting the party’s turmoil and icy relationship between the once dynamic duo.

Ruto says his relationship with President Kenyatta is not a subject of public discussion, but he has made all-but-direct verbal assaults; their split is evident.

Ruto’s seat has been been empty at crucial meetings of the National Security Council, the Cabinet and recently at the Covid-19 conference as well as the BBI signature launch presided over by the President. Some he snubbed, to some he was uninvited.

The President in June sternly warned the Tangatanga side and has said nothing about backing Ruto – once his presumptive heir – nor has he said he would back his handshake ally Raila.

The BBI campaigns are worsening the cracks in the party, especially with the DP urging a “non-contested referendum” and calling for five “irreducible minimums” to support a referendum.

But he has also said he cannot cross his boss and risk his own political fortunes.

Ruto and Uhuru are reading from different scripts on the BBI, but Jubilee officials naturally deny the blindingly obvious – the party is in shambles.

Vice chairman David Murathe recently told KTN News the party is intact.

“The fact that President will leave office doesn’t mean he won’t be leader of the party. He won’t stop being leader of Mt Kenya.”

Mumias East Benjamin Washiali said the reason the DP has challenges of saying No to the BBI Bill is because he doesn’t want to appear defiant to the party leader.

“The two leaders’ relationship has not got to the tipping point. If you see Ruto having challenges of saying No, it is because of that relationship.

“He doesn’t want to destroy the relationship. He is hanging on so they speak one language with the boss,” the MP said.

President Kenyatta’s allies hold that Ruto’s defiance of Uhuru’s call to end premature campaigns is the root of the problem, and now it’s too late to fix

The DP’s allies blame their misfortunes on the President and Raila’s March 2018 handshake, which excluded Ruto and gave birth to BBI.

Political analysts say, however, the alleged assassination plot alone did not cause cracks in the ruling party, though it did jolt it.

Dr Charles Nyambuga, a political commentator from Maseno University, argues “the real trigger was the massive corruption in the first term linked to DP Ruto.”

“He amassed so much wealth that threatened the establishment. Ruto was better as President Kenyatta’s principal assistant, but not when he became independent, his own person,” the communications don said.

He said that the DP’s ultimate goal when he joined hands with President Kenyatta was to get to power.

“These people came together in an unholy alliance. Ruto knew President Kenyatta had the numbers and the DP could bring Rift Valley numbers. These numbers are fairly threatening if added to whatever they could collect across the country.

“Ruto’s bid, we can now observe, was to get to power and once there, look at whether he could ascend to the ultimate position, the presidency. But it appears Kenyatta had other ideas,” Dr Nyambuga added.

On the assassination, the don asks: Was it real or a figment of the imagination?

“History will still tell us whether there was an attempt. What would the Kenyattas have to benefit by eliminating Ruto that way? They had more to lose than to benefit,” he said.

Nyambuga added that much as there have been political murders during the duo’s tenure, the pointers are elsewhere and not people close to Kenyatta.

He told the Star that a rapprochement is not possible.

“President Kenyatta can just let Ruto be DP but not facilitate him to ascend to authority. If he does, Kenyatta himself will be insecure,” he observed.

Lawyer Danstan Omari said the question would be whether President Kenyatta “will go with Raila of the 2018 handshake or with Ruto of the current Wheelbarrow Movement.

“The President is not a contender in 2022. The issue is that he has two ‘women’ who are fighting for his attention. One woman is more lethal by being sworn in as people’s president; and the other is lethal but by virtue of his post, he is restrained,” he said.

The lawyer added, “President Kenyatta has brought these ‘women’, each being lied to. Out of the lies, he has cheated Baba with the BBI to tone it down; and Ruto that he’d hand over the baton.”

Danstan cited this as a possible reason the President has not chosen to vanquish the DP through impeachment.

The lawyer argued that the President is riding on the hope he gets to March 2021 and then can tell two protagonists, “I have no ears, horns, vote, and I am not contesting.”

Danstan says there is no guarantee the President would stick with Raila or Ruto forever.

“He is a serious student of Mwai Kibaki. His mansion at Ichaweri is almost complete. From March 2021 he will be busy buying vehicles, furniture, probably the wife he was looking for in Kisumu, to be entertained as every retired President does.”