Deputy President William Ruto when he condoled the family of the late President Daniel Arap Moi on February 4, 2020
Deputy President William Ruto when he condoled the family of the late President Daniel Arap Moi on February 4, 2020
Image: DPPS

By Reporter

Events following the death of retired President Daniel Moi have exposed Deputy President William Ruto as an outsider in his own government.

With President Uhuru Kenyatta in the US — alongside ODM leader Raila Odinga — his second command was expected to be the man in charge. But this was not to be.

A piecing together of the events as they unfolded hours after Moi’s death show that the DP was pushed to the periphery.

Instead, powerful Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi, a man believed to have the President’s ear, took over.

Multiple sources told the Star that President Kenyatta personally asked Matiang’i to take charge of the burial plans immediately he was informed of Moi’s death.

“The President issued very clear instructions on how to proceed,” a Cabinet Secretary said. 

Sources close to the President said once he issued his instructions, Matiang’i, KDF chief Samson Mwathate and other senior government officials dashed to the Nairobi Hospital. 

They informed the Moi family that the government was taking over all the burial plans. Ruto was not at the hospital at the time.

“Once we were done with moving the body to Lee Funeral Home and the military deployed, we then went to the State House for a planning meeting.

“While at State House we learnt that the DP was going to address the media,” a senior State House official said.

The team held their meeting, expanded the committee and prepared a plan of action then went to brief the Moi family at Kabarnet Gardens in the afternoon.

Chief of Defense Forces Samson Mwathethe, IG Hillary Mutyambai, Defense CS Monica Juma and Interior Cabinet Secretary Karanja Kibicho attended the meeting.

The DP addressed the press conference all alone then proceeded to Lee Funeral Home without any senior government official by his side.

At the mortuary, only former Cabinet minister Franklin Bett was at hand to receive him.

He viewed the body, then flew to Kakamega to visit the school where 14 children had died in a stampede on Monday and condole the parents and staff.  

When Ruto got back from Kakamega, he went to Kabarnet Gardens to offer condolences to the family.

It was hours after Matiangi, accompanied by  Mwathethe and police boss Hillary Mutyambai and his team had briefed the family and left Moi’s home.

“We just had a meeting, government-wide meeting, to organise ourselves for this,” Matiangi said at Moi’s home in Kabarnet Gardens. 

He said that they were implementing the orders of the President.

“I can confirm that on our side as a government we are ready. We are implementing all the instructions His Excellency the President gave us on this,” Matiang’i said. 

The Harambee House meeting took place on Tuesday afternoon after Ruto flew to Kakamega.

These events were unfolding moments after Uhuru’s proclamation that Moi would be accorded a state burial with full military and civilian honours.

“In a palace, there are always things that happen. In our palace, things have been happening and they have been geared towards sidelining Ruto,” observed political analyst Herman Manyora

According to Manyora, Uhuru has been taking advantage of recent events to isolate Ruto.

He noted that Uhuru needed someone to become another centre of power, a position Matiangi has perfectly fitted into.

“I think Matiang’i is an alternative centre of power. That is something nobody can deny. The powers he was given through an executive order were enormous,” he said.

Matiangi has been steadily scaling the heights in Uhuru’s administration and is currently at the heart of the Executive following Uhuru’s reorganisation of his administration and the establishment of a four-tier hierarchy of authority.

The elevation of Matiang’i with supervisory roles across government was viewed by many as a scheme to whittle down Ruto’s influence.

However, political analyst Danstan Omari said that Ruto could not have been sidelined in the funeral arrangements since the military had to take charge in the funeral of its former commander.

He said that Matiang’i had to be involved since his ministry coordinates all government functions and his office directly reports to the President.

He, however, said it would be absurd for the deputy president to spearhead funeral arrangements of a person he never visited while in hospital.

“If you remember, the deputy president went to Kabarak but he was not allowed to see the former president,” he said.

He added that Ruto is also in political competition with Moi’s youngest son Gideon, and therefore there could be bad blood between the two.

Tomorrow, President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to lead the entire Cabinet to Moi’s Kabarnet home to condole with the family.

According to Ruto, Uhuru had asked him to mobilise the entire Cabinet to Moi’s home on Wednesday but the idea was abandoned to allow the President come back.

“His Excellency the President had requested me earlier to mobilise the Cabinet so that we can come here tomorrow (Wednesday) but after consultation, we agreed to come on Friday when he (Uhuru) is around,” Ruto said in Kabarnet.