Anthony Mwangi, Mercy Mwai and Alvin Mwangi @PeopleDailyKe
The war of attrition pitting Deputy President William Ruto and Opposition leader Raila Odinga over the March 9 ‘Handshake’ between the Opposition leader and President Uhuru Kenyatta has taken a tempestuous twist with the two politicians resorting to bare-knuckle attacks.
In a pointed response to Ruto’s weekend assault at a rally in Mombasa, when the DP accused him of plotting to derail Jubilee, Raila yesterday countered, dismissing the attacks as inconsequential and not worth his response.
“Na mwomba Mungu awasamehe kwani hawajui wanayosema ( I would only ask, God the Father to forgive them as they do not know what they are saying),” said Raila in Machakos adding; “there is a saying in Luo that the elephant is discussed when he is not there.”
And speaking in Taita Taveta yesterday as he wound up his Coast tour, the Deputy President warned the National Super Alliance (Nasa) leader not to politise the war on graft, saying the ‘Handshake’ is not the cure for corruption. “Don’t pretend you are the ones spearheading the fight against corruption. The Constitution is very clear. Our duty as politicians is to plan for development,” he said, adding that his critics have no agenda for the country.
Ruto said the Constitution is clear on who is mandated to fight corruption and that no one else should take credit, adding that the independent institutions are mandated to deal with corrupt government officials and those who are wasting government resources and should not be politicised.
Addressing a gathering after opening the newly built Katani Hospital in Machakos, Raila said the Building Bridges Initiative mooted by President Uhuru and himself plans to bring together Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, his ANC counterpart Musalia Mudavadi and any other person interested.
But in Taita Taveta, Ruto continued with his tirade against Raila for claiming the Handshake with Uhuru will win the war against corruption.
Speaking during a fundraiser at Mwambeta PEFA Church in Voi constituency, Taita Taveta yesterday, the DP told Raila to leave the fight to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), the Judiciary and other independent institutions charged.
But Raila on his part reiterated that the war on graft was unstoppable and will continue and told those agitated to hold their horses.
Raila explained that he and Kalonzo supported the Finance Bill on the contentious VAT on petroleum products, saying they had to join Uhuru to support the budget for the national good.
He, however, clarified that they had supported the bill on condition that it will be reviewed after a year. He also pledged that the Opposition will support Uhuru in fighting wastage by public officers.
“At that time, Uhuru had no choice. If he attempted to cut salaries of public servants, including teachers, doctors, police among others, it would have precipitated industrial strife…That’s how we came in,” Raila said.
Ruto has said the Opposition was panicking because he has established working relationship with leaders from the Coastal region and his visits there.
The DP said it was ironical that the Opposition was talking of uniting the country yet at the same time was in the process of disciplining some Members of Parliament from the region for working with him.
“Leaders should focus on discussing issues that would transform Kenya rather than wasting time talking about others,” Ruto said, adding that together with President Uhuru, he was focused on the implementation of the Big Four agenda.
Speaking while accompanied by Taita Taveta Governor Granton Samboja and more than 20 MPs from different political parties, the Deputy President said he will continue associating with all leaders of different backgrounds for the sake of development and wondered why the Opposition was claiming to be building bridges while at the same time isolating and discriminating others.
And in Parliament MPs allied to Raila told off the DP over remarks that Raila is out to divide the Jubilee Party, challenging him to deal with his own problems.
Separately, ODM secretary general Edwin Sifuna, hit out at the DP, telling him that if he’s feeling the heat in Jubilee, he must retrace his steps to where the political rain started beating him.
The MPs who included Zuleikha Hassan (Kwale county), Antony Oluoch (Mathare), Samuel Atandi (Alego-Usonga), Gideon Ochanda (Bondo), Shakeel Shabbir (Kisumu East), Chris Karan (Ugenya) and Godfrey Osotsi (Nominated) accused Ruto of behaving “like an MCA” and thriving on chaos, division and commotion.
Led by Hassan, they claimed the DP was uncomfortable with Uhuru and Raila working relationship and wanted to frustrate war on corruption.
“His sole strength as a politician, has been capacity to distribute money whose sources are not clear, she alleged.”
But speaking later, Leader of Majority in the Senate Kipchumba Murkomen said it was no secret that there was a scheme by ODM to have Raila capitalise on the ‘Handshake’ to vie for presidency in 2022.
Murkomen dismissed Raila as insincere, saying his aim is to break the Jubilee Party for personal benefit.
Suna East MP Junet Mohammed and Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho told the DP to prepare for showdown when the right time comes.