Uhuru, Ruto bond in trouble as betrayal claims fester
- Ruto's team strongly holds that Mr Kenyatta’s war on corruption is actually meant to tame the DP’s chances of ascending to power.
- On the lifestyle audit for public servants, the DP stated that this was another ploy by his political detractors to pin him down.
Dr Adams Oloo, political science teacher who now co-chairs Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) with Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji, once observed that the criminal cases that collapsed at The Hague-based court against President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto was the hip bone that joined the duo and that, in its absence, they would likely part ways.
It may be too soon to call it divorce, but the past one year has been turbulent for the Jubilee administration, with Mr Kenyatta and Dr Ruto openly reading from different scripts.
When they joined forces in late 2012 to run for office, they were fondly referred to as the dynamic duo, but today their allies are going for each other’s jugular, with the Deputy President's inner circle saying they can smell betrayal.
Today, compared with the issues that bring them together, analysts say the points of departures out-number instances where the two agree.
In the past, the two consulted on almost all public appointments. Allies of Dr Ruto say this is no longer the case as the President more often than not acts unilaterally.
Dr Ruto even appeared to acknowledge this in public when, early last year, he asked the public to give the President ample time to compose his government.
Mr Kenyatta was in the process of constituting his Cabinet, this time without the fanfare and Dr Ruto missing in action, unlike in 2013 when they first came to power.
The President must have been sending a signal that he is in charge, firmly.
On Saturday, DP Ruto blamed ODM leader Raila Odinga for woes facing the ruling party.
He said Mr Odinga is taking advantage of the handshake with President Kenyatta to rock Jubilee.
“If you mean uniting Kenya, then let’s do that by our actions. But you cannot say you are uniting when in actual sense you are dividing them. You are busy wrecking other political parties,” Dr Ruto said while addressing a crowd in Kilifi.
Mr Odinga however maintains that he did not have the powers and intention to create a wedge between Mr Kenyatta and Dr Ruto.
MPs coalescing around the DP say reading from the goings-on, the second in command has outlived his usefulness.
“We were together as Jubilee Party under the slogan "Tuko Pamoja" (we are together). But are we really together?” Majority Whip Ben Washiali, a member of the DP's war council, wonders.
He argues that if the kind of chemistry the President enjoyed with the DP before existed, Mr Rashid Echesa, a Ruto man, would not have been kicked out of the Cabinet nine days ago.
Talk of changing the law ahead of the next General Election has also been a point of tension between the two.
Whereas the President insists that there is a need to change the winner-take-it all regime at the polls, a direct support for occasioning change in the supreme laws, his principal assistant says he would not support any move that seeks to create extra positions for individuals.
He argues that the move was not only be untenable, but would also serve to further tax an already overburdened nation.
The opposing stances may present Kenyans with a scenario where the President and his deputy are leading different camps, in the event of a referendum, something that has not been witnessed before.
Equally, the council strongly holds that Mr Kenyatta’s war on corruption is actually meant to tame the DP’s chances of ascending to power.
Elgeyo-Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, also the Senate Majority Leader, accuses the Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) boss George Kinoti of “fighting political wars”, saying it is “unfortunate that the project has been weaponised as a tool for 2022 political fights”.
The President would days later affirm his confidence in the investigative and prosecution agencies.
“We reformed the offices of DCI and Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) and appointed people who are ready to fight corruption. We have empowered the office of the DPP to tackle the cases as required. Mr Kinoti and Mr Haji are doing their work,” the President said.
On Friday, DPP Noordin Haji, in an unprecedented move, contradicted the position given by the DP earlier in the week on the exact amount of money in contention in the scandal-hit dam projects in the Rift Valley.
DP Ruto accused investigators of exaggerating the amount of money lost. He said the amount in contention was Sh7 billion and not Sh21 billion.
But on Friday, the DPP said the figure was actually Sh21 billion.
Lawmakers like Oscar Sudi have been on the war path, directly charging at the President in a coordinated firepower to remind him that they not only have options but also can mount a fight using his “skeletons” too if they deem it necessary.
“I have had you say that the fight against corruption is not against any community or individuals. I beg to differ sir. In fact, your so-called fight against corruption is targeted at individuals and a community and I will give you examples,” the lawmaker from Kapseret told the President in a daring open letter.
The President would later fire back, urging Mr Sudi and company to give to the DCI any information they have on corruption.
Mr Kenyatta’s handlers say he rarely forgives such. He may strike where it hurts the most someday, they warned in what can only escalate the dogfight.
“I heard someone saying that I had stolen somebody else’s property. I want to tell them to go to the DCI offices and report what Uhuru Kenyatta has stolen,” the President said.
The subject of lifestyle audit for public servants has been another hot potato. In two occasions, in Kenya and while in the United Kingdom, the DP stated that this was another ploy by his political detractors to pin him down.
Again, his allies came out forcefully to oppose the presidential directive. They said there are no proper laws in place to guide the process and, as such, it is subject to abuse.