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

By Reporter

Deputy President William Ruto is spoiling for war with President Uhuru Kenyatta, raising doubts the ruling Jubilee coalition will survive until the 2022 polls.

For the past few days, Ruto has openly contradicted the President on many issues, rebuked his trusted allies and claimed Uhuru’s second term has not been as efficient as his first when they worked together.

For the first time, Ruto said he could ditch the ruling party which he claimed is dysfunctional and has been hijacked by conmen, brokers and busybodies.

The DP has also indicated that he might rally his troops to oppose any amendments to the Constitution and laughed off the push to end the “winner takes it all” system of government.

“I don’t know what is being amended…to the best of my knowledge, this whole push is by leaders, not by the people. People at this moment are concerned about jobs, about their livelihoods,” Ruto said on Thursday.

Ironically, Uhuru is the number one crusader for an end to the  “winner takes it all” system to end the feeling of exclusivity that has pushed Kenya to the brink every election cycle.

On Wednesday, the President made a passionate case for constitutional change and also spoke against “the paralysis of constitutional rigidity”.

“Instead of a ceasefire document that enforces a zero-sum game in which the winner takes it all, the moment calls us to create a constitutional order that will long endure,” the President said.

He has on many occasions said he intends to bequeath Kenya a united country devoid of ethnicity through the BBI process, which will be part of his legacy.

But a defiant Ruto says constitutional change cannot be anybody’s legacy.

Changing the Constitution is not something we can decide as a party – it is for all Kenyans to decide. It is not something I can say my legacy is to change the Constitution,” he told Citizen TV in an Interview.

“That Ruto is at war with the President is no longer in doubt,” Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu, a key Uhuru ally, told the Star.

According to Wambugu, the Deputy President is to blame for his own predicament.

The fierce DP critic said Ruto is just escalating the war he started immediately after President Kenyatta was elected for the second term in 2017.

“Ruto refused to heed the President’s call (against politicking) and immediately embarked on his 2022 campaigns, even directly buying off the President’s MPs to his campaign and leaving the head of state to work by himself,” he said.

On Saturday, Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen said he is ready to lead campaigns against amendments to the Constitution.

“If the BBI referendum will mirror the divisive agenda we have witnessed in the Senate, if it shall be reversing the gains on devolution or increasing layers of governance or taking services far from the people, I will oppose it and I am ready to lead the NO campaigns,” the close Ruto ally tweeted.

In 2005, President Mwai Kibaki sacked Raila Odinga and his then LDP group for leading – from the Cabinet – campaigns against the Wako draft constitution.

However, Ruto is protected by the Constitution from sacking by the President, but the head of state can spearhead a government overhaul to cut him down to size.

An impeachment motion could also be engineered in Parliament for his ouster.

Ruto has always avoided publicly condemning the head of state or openly defying his agenda, but this has now changed and he is boldly defiant and on a war path.

In a press statement last Tuesday, Ruto appeared to suggest that the President has some vendetta against him.

He said were the architects of the alleged theft of Covid-19 billions his allies, they would have been arrested and prosecuted.

“The perpetrators of this heist are lucky they do not carry the tag ‘Ruto allies’, otherwise they would have taken political responsibility, stepped aside, written statements, companies investigated, individuals arrested and hauled to court. By now they would be arranging bail,” he said.

Political analyst Felix Odhiambo told the Star that the DP has dared the President to a political duel in the 2022 polls.

“Ruto appears to believe that the President has no influence among Kenyans to campaign for him in 2022. He is comfortable to work without the President and that is why he is critising the Executive,” Odhiambo said.

According to the analyst, Ruto is setting the stage for his exit from the Executive to focus on his 2022 campaign with the referendum duel likely to offer him a springboard.

Ruto has been hosting delegations under his economic empowerment programme through which he has donated millions of shillings in equipment to the youth and women’s groups.

The DP has also been hosting the clergy and opinion leaders from across the country as he firms up his 2022 political force without relying on the President’s support.

Despite the tough Covid-19 measures, Ruto has devolved his political activities with planned tours across the country in aggressive campaigns to shore up his support while staying away from woes in government.

After his Mombasa visit last weekend,  the DP is set to tour Kisii and Nyamira where he is expected to distribute social empowerment equipment to youth and women’s groups.

Ruto has come under stinging from his detractors who question his criticism of the Executive in which he serves as the country’s second in command.

Former Cabinet minister Franklin Bett on Sunday said that public display of anger could work against those seeking to lead the country.

Bett said while it is human nature to show anger when threatened or when one feels his/her position is not respected, leaders must exercise tolerance and patience.

“In anger, there is no tomorrow; it doesn’t give you a way forward that is positive. It [anger] destroys what you have built over time,” Bett, who also a former State House comptroller warned.

He said doublespeak, especially on the push to amend the Constitution, has exposed his “selfish interests” that he pursues at the expense of national good.

“If he (Ruto) became the president tomorrow, he will not be the last one. He will expect respect and tolerance from others,” Bett said.

On Sunday, National Assembly Minority leader John Mbadi told the Star that DP’s actions are out of frustration after realising that things are not falling into his place.

For instance, Mbadi said, after realising that the President may not support him in 2022, the DP has become unnecessarily angry, raring for vengeance.

“Ruto doesn’t want to show that he is conflicting the President, yet when he is asked about issues like the fight against corruption he comes out frustrated, angry and conflicted,” the ODM chairman said.

“I see a frustrated Ruto and a man who is conflicted on anything. Ruto has no position on any matter including the fight against corruption.”

According to Mbadi, the DP’s war is premised on the fact that he has realised that he is on his own in his 2022 presidential ambition.

“In the first term, Ruto did a lot of things all over without thinking about the repercussions and thought the Jubilee was his to take. I think he did not realise that the President was watching him and after realising, he has become angry,” Mbadi said.