President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto at a past function.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto at a past function.
Image: PSCU

The political fallout between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto has hit rock-bottom, casting doubt if the two will ever sit together again in the Cabinet.

What started as mere differences of opinion have snowballed into a full blown political war that has strained the relationship between the country’s top two leaders. 

With the Ruto axis openly accusing Uhuru of having ruined the country’s economy, the President appears to have decided to seal his legacy without Ruto’s involvement. 

On Tuesday, Uhuru dispatched several Cabinet Secretaries to inspect development projects across the city. 

For nearly two years, the President and his deputy never engaged directly in public even as their allies traded barbs.

Ruto would instead attack Uhuru’s handshake partner Raila Odinga and Jubilee Party officials for troubles roiling the ruling party.

However, the gloves are now off, especially after the President gave the clearest indication that he would not support Ruto for the country’s top job and may in fact campaign against him 

On January 9, Uhuru said the Mt Kenya and the Kalenjin communities have produced the country’s four presidents since Independence and should pave the way for other communities. 

This knocks off Ruto from Uhuru’s the succession matrix.

Since then, Ruto and his troops have gone  bare-knuckled, leaving little doubt that they will oppose the proposed Building Bridges Initiative referendum.

Ruto, for instance, now says some of the BBI proposals are populist, attacking its key planks that Uhuru and Raila have been marketing.

“At the moment, the government owes counties Sh100 billion. If the national government cannot pay 15 per cent, why should we expect it to pay 35 per cent?” The DP asked.

On Tuesday, Keini MP Kanini Kenga, a key ally of the President, told the Star that the relationship between the Uhuru and Ruto was irreparable unless the DP publicly apologised to the President.

“If the Deputy President wants to return, he must ask for forgiveness and totally denounce his dynasty versus hustler narrative,” Kega said insisting that the ties will collapse if Ruto “maintains his trajectory in politics.”

Kega said while the DP was supposed to help the President in implementing Jubilee’s manifesto as his principal assistant, he instead chose to campaign for his 2022 presidential bid.

According to Kega, the President’s relationship with Ruto got to a point of no return when he started disrespecting Uhuru by presiding over meetings where speakers at the events publicly insulted the President.

“He seems to applaud them when they insult the President. He needs to mend his ways or else he will be digging his political grave,” Kega added.

Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa, an ally of Ruto, admitted the relationship between Uhuru and Ruto “seems to be completely over.”

“The Deputy President is someone who stood with the President from way back during the days of Kanu. Now he is being pushed aside because of a bromance the Head of State has found with another person,” Barasa said.

At the weekend, Uhuru openly rallied his Mt Kenya backyard against Ruto’s hustler nation politics, saying the handout culture is unsustainable. 

“You hear some people say we know the problem of Kenyan youth, the same people then say they will help by giving them wheelbarrows. Who told you that the youth need wheelbarrows? What they need is jobs,” the President explained.

Once again, Uhuru left no doubt that he will not support Ruto and declared that he does not owe anyone a political debt.

“Some people keep saying I made a promise to them. No, I only have a promise and covenant with the people of Kenya,” the President said.

Again, Ruto was quick to respond saying he backed Uhuru during the 2013 and 2017 elections without any conditions.

“I supported President Kenyatta in 2013 and 2017 without conditions. The Head of State should not be pushed to supporting my 2022 candidature,” he said.

He indirectly dismissed Uhuru’s Sagana meeting as an ethnic mobilisation, gathering meant to benefit the privileged few.

The Church and Clergy Association of Kenya (CCAK)- an umbrella body that brings together churches and over 1,000 religious leaders – has asked the two leaders to tone down their rhetoric.

“The two must tone down, particularly the Deputy President. He should respect the President even if he does not like the BBI. He should find a proper way of opposing it,” said CCAK chair Hudson Ndeda.

Ndeda warned that the scenario “is actually a threat to peace and stability of the country.”

The Kikuyu Council of Elders secretary general Peter Munga said the relationship between the two leaders seems to have reached a point of no return.

“It seems to be a done deal. The once cordial relationship between the two leaders died a long time ago. Probably, the Sagana meeting buried it,” Munga said.

Political analyst Daniel Orogo said the BBI Constitution amendment push would be the breaking point for the two leaders.

“Ruto will openly defy the President as he traverses the country to popularise the hustler versus dynasties narrative as he calls on Kenyans to reject the BBI. This will spell doom for the relationship between the two,” he said.

Political commentator Joseph Mutua concurred and said he does not see Uhuru and Ruto working together again perhaps much earlier, before the BBI process is concluded.

“It seems the two leaders have now made up their minds to go their separate ways. We do not need an announcement that they have parted ways to know they are no longer together,” he stated.