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Why political parties have ganged up against DP Ruto

By Eric Wainaina
Monday, June 8th, 2020
Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa

Eric Wainaina @EWainaina

Political parties across the divide have lined up a series of changes calculated to further isolate Deputy President William Ruto and derail his 2022 bid to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta.

While some are rushing to ink anti-Ruto post-election agreements with Uhuru’s Jubilee Party, others are forging arrangements to purge his lieutenants from key party positions and populate them with politicians supporting the unity bid under the Building the Bridges Initiative (BBI).

Observers and leaders interviewed yesterday quickly cited the raging coup at Ford Kenya where Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula is fighting for his life, the simmering tension in Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress and Kanu’s post-poll deal with Jubilee which helped in the purge in Senate, as part of a wider onslaught against Ruto whose relationship with his boss has hit rock bottom.

Besides Wetang’ula who is fighting his replacement with Kaduyi MP Wafula Wamunyinyi, a supporter of the Handshake between Uhuru and opposition chief Raila Odinga, other casualties include the senator’s associate and Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa, a DP acolyte, who was removed as deputy minority whip in the National Assembly, a move that was spearheaded by the Orange Democratic Movement.

Enter collaboration

Former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper Party is understood to be almost concluding a collaboration deal with Uhuru, that will see the two parties work together just like the Baringo Senator Gideon Moi-led Kanu did, leading to the ouster of the DP’s supporters at the Senate, a move that will leave Ruto severely wounded.

“Wiper is in the process of entering into a collaboration agreement with Jubilee, which will see Uhuru and Kalonzo work on a common front,” said Makueni MP Dan Maanzo, who said the President reached out to other parties due to the DP’s alleged disobedience especially on the Handshake.

At Jubilee, which he co-founded with Uhuru in 2017, the DP has lost its control after his allies in the National Management Committee (NMC) were replaced, and at the Senate, his soldiers: Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, Tharaka Nithi’s Kindiki Kithure and Susan Kihika (Nakuru) were ousted as Majority Leader, Deputy Speaker and Chief Whip, respectively.

Kanu played a key role in the purge and was rewarded after its member Samuel Poghisio (West Pokot) replaced Murkomen. In the National Assembly Benjamin Washiali and Cecily Mbarire, who are allied to him, were replaced as Chief Whip and deputy.

Belgut MP Nelson Koech, a key supporter of the DP, said political parties had ganged up against Ruto in the name of disciplinary action.

“The intention of the restructuring of the political parties, like it happened with Wetang’ula being dethroned and the division in ANC is deliberate and the ultimate move is to kill parties and weaken democracy. It targets the DP and his ambitions,” the MP told People Daily yesterday.

“The move is supposed to read a particular line and is being coordinated from a particular quarter. That is why we are witnessing the ruthless purge on DP’s allies,” he added.

Coalition government

Dr Richard Bosire, a political science lecturer at the University of Nairobi, said the DP has become a victim of the purge because the respective leaders do not want people who are not supporting their ideologies such as BBI which he has been fighting.

“The happenings where parties are whipping their people to follow a certain line and actions, will define and influence the 2022 elections.

The DP is a victim of circumstances because he was the one pursuing the disobedience line.

This is all about controlling the parties because they want to position themselves in supporting a looming coalition government and also 2022 is not far away,” Dr Bosire said.

While political parties officials have distanced the ongoing restructuring as a deliberate target to the DP, politicians allied to  Ruto and political pundits indicated that the move will have direct impact on his political ambitions since he will be left without footsoldiers.

ODM secretary general Edwin Sifuna said the “clean up” in the Nasa coalition that saw Wamalwa de-whipped and  Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa removed from the Parliamentary Service Commission was not targeted at the DP. 

 “As a political party we want members who owe fidelity to the party and it’s about rewarding loyalty not necessarily punishing disloyalty.

Like the case of Aisha, it’s the law that you can be in a political party yet everyday, you are throwing mud at the same political party...” he said.

Punish disloyalty

Mudavadi, whose party is gripped by tension that could escalate into a possible coup, claimed the Ford-Kenya boss’s overthrow was a well-orchestrated move by Raila and that it had been planned for days to intimidate him and Wetang’ula with a view to “finishing” them politically, especially in the western Kenyan.

Cherangany MP Joshua Kutuny, a fierce critic of the DP, said  Ruto will suffer more as the actions of the key political parties will leave him abandoned.

“It is going to be really unfortunate for the DP because he spent too much resources and time consolidating a team that is inconsequential when it comes to giving the national political directions.

We are likely to see someone who is going to be not only isolated but also rejected openly,” said Kutuny.

Kitutu Chache MP and Ford Kenya deputy party leader Richard Onyonka fell short of confirming that the Wetang’ula ouster was linked to the DP’s allies in the party. They include MPs Didmus Barasa (Kimilili) John Waluke( Sirisia) and Wamalwa.

Onyonka said the DP “fixed” himself by fighting Uhuru’s unity project noting that most political parties were keen to work with the President in the BBI process.

“There are members within our party who felt that they wanted to work with the DP, there is another group that wanted to go the President’s way, these gentlemen decided to get the NEC members and come up with a resolution of making that decision.

They felt that the party leader was moving towards the DP but people felt that they needed to position themselves just like ODM and Wiper are doing. If the purge will hurt the DP, so be it!” the MP said.

Barasa accused the State of conspiring with political parties to kill the DP’s ambitions, saying it was coercing and intimidating small parties into agreements.

“They want to push a situation where big parties that sing to their tunes can swallow the miniatures that are against them which is very retrogressive, all in the names of fighting the DP,” he told People Daily.

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