Seth Onyango @SethManex
Deputy President William Ruto has been holding strategy meetings this week despite maintaining a studious silence — save for a tweet— on the raging controversy in Jubilee over his 2022 State House bid, People Daily has established.
Ruto, who is not known to take political blows lying down, has uncharacteristically been quiet in a week that his presidential ambition has been the subject of heated debate both in Jubilee and in the opposition.
The DP has, however, been going about his official duties amidst the growing onslaught on his 2022 presidential bid.
Last evening, Leader of Majority in the National Assembly Aden Duale, who is one of the DP’s closest allies, told People Daily that Ruto chaired a Cabinet sub-committee on health in the morning at his Karen residence.
Among those present were Health Cabinet secretary Sicily Kariuki, Principal secretaries Peter Tum (Health) and Betty Maina (State Department of Investment and Industry).
And later in the evening, Ruto posted on his Facebook page that he had chaired a multi-agency committee meeting on food safety and quality standards.
According to Duale, both President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ruto are scheduled to resume their official duties on Monday 14.
Away from official duties, however, sources say Ruto has been locked in meetings to devise a strategy that will counter efforts to deny him support in Mt Kenya region.
According to the sources, Ruto was on Wednesday hosted for lunch by a friend in Thika, Kiambu county where he was accompanied by a governor and a former governor from Central region.
Ruto has also been reportedly meeting close allies to work on a strategy to counter the onslaught against him.
Duale said Jubilee may take disciplinary action against some individuals he described as “wayward” over their “divisive utterances.”
“Jubilee is intact and the relationship between the President and his deputy at its best. But the party’s disciplinary machinery will meet to decide what course of action to take against wayward members,” Duale told People Daily.
At the same time, some Jubilee MPs have accused their ODM counterparts of meddling in the affairs of their party under the guise of the handshake between Uhuru and opposition leader Raila Odinga.
Led by Majority Whip and Mumias East Benjamin Washiali, Benard Shinali (Ikolomani), Mathias Robi (Kuria East), Emmanuel Wangwe (Navakholo) and Taita-Taveta Women representative Lydia Haika, the MPs said the opposition had taken advantage of the goodwill President had shown them to undermine the party.
The Deputy President is said to be plotting a strategy to win the Mt Kenya vote, with or without the endorsement of the region’s top leaders.
A source, who did not want to be named told People Daily that Ruto has been dangling the position of a running mate to some Mt Kenya politicians in order to retain them in his camp.
“Initially the DP was in denial about not getting an endorsement from the President but has now embraced the possibility, thus the need to form alliances with other leaders from the region,” said the source.
This is premised on the emerging handshake dynamics that are likely to hurt the DP’s 2022 political fortunes, particularly in the vote-rich region.
And coming at a time when he is being accused of plotting to sabotage the handshake, Ruto has also reportedly instructed his lieutenants to avoid making reckless statements.
On Wednesday, some elected and former leaders from Mt Kenya region implied that politicians allied to the DP were plotting to scuttle the truce between Uhuru and Raila, a thing that Duale dismissed.
Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua insinuated that the Building Bridges Initiative had become a target of politicians allied to Ruto for personal political gain.
“It is our considered opinion that some unpatriotic politicians are bent on sabotaging this positive initiative for personal political gain. We shall not allow. We demand that leaders of goodwill adhere to the President’s directive on succession and first focus on development,” she said.
The Karua-Peter Kenneth group have joined former Jubilee party vice-chairman David Murathe in insisting that Ruto will not be Mt Kenya region’s automatic candidate in the next election.
It is against this background that Duale, a key Ruto ally, is accusing some ruling party members of resorting to tribal politics, something, he says, the President had cured in 2015 when he dissolved several parties to form Jubilee.
“Ruto has been very categorical that he does not need anybody’s support. So we don’t understand what all this noise is all about,” he said.
But even as opposition against the DP intensifies, political pundits argue that it could work in his favour by helping consolidate his Rift Valley political bedrock.
For political analyst Kissinger Kakai, the DP should stick his neck above internal party wrangles and focus on establishing a twin legacy with the Head of State and use it as a campaign tool in 2022.
“On whether he will be the automatic candidate for Jubilee, he should argue that the issue should be subjected to party democracy and whoever wins is supported even if it is not him,” he says.