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Why Ruto is his own worst enemy

By Eric Wainaina
Monday, February 3rd, 2020
Deputy President William Ruto with South Mugirango MP Silvanus Osoro at Itierio Girls School in Kisii, yesterday. Photo/PD/DPPS
In summary
    • Deputy President has been accused of undermining his boss, President Uhuru Kenyatta in his Mt Kenya region backyard.
    • Uhuru’s critics accuse him of defying the President’s call to stop early election campaigns.
    • Analysts says his decision to fold his United Republican Party ahead of the 2017 election,  Ruto may have set himself up for failure.

Open defiance, claims of undermining and disrespecting his boss and early election campaigns, have been cited as some of the blunders that could cost Deputy President William Ruto the ultimate prize.

Others are his decision to disband his United Republican Party (URP) as well teaming up with politicians openly critical of the President.

Political observers who spoke to People Daily also faulted the DP for raiding President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Central Kenya backyard, in a manner that left the Head of State exposed to criticism that he had not only lost grip of his stronghold, but was fast becoming a lame duck.

Moreover, the DP has voiced open reservations about the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) spear-headed by the President and Opposition chief Raila Odinga, well aware that the project had a special meaning to his boss.

There has also been debate that unlike past vice-presidents, Ruto has been rather assertive, with critics accusing him of tacitly projecting himself as a co-president. 

Lawyer and political analyst Ndegwa Njiru, says that besides opposing BBI and voicing reservations about Uhuru’s war against corruption, Ruto also tried to take control of the Jubilee Party and Parliament for his 2022 interests, a thing which had sustained the narrative that he is undermining the President.

“Political aggressiveness requires maturity and decency. If you don’t have them, you will be at loggerheads with other parties.

The DP behaved live a visitor whom you bring into your house, usher them into the sitting room but they force their way into your bedroom in your presence,” Njiru said.

Defend turf

The DP, he said, “with his sense of entitlement” had pushed the President to the wall, a thing which the lawyer said had forced Uhuru to fight back, “and the war will leave the DP badly injured”.

Ruto’s antics in Mt Kenya region have seen Uhuru come out strongly to defend his turf. In the past two weeks, he has visited Kiambu, Nakuru, Nyandarua, Kirinyaga and Meru counties where he came out guns blazing against Ruto’s allies.

The lawyer further argued that the DP’s first undoing was when he folded his URP party which he had used to negotiate his way to power in 2013.

“By agreeing to kill URP when the Jubilee Party was formed Ruto had left himself without a bargaining tool,” he said.

Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu, a fierce critic of Ruto, said one of the miscalculations by the DP was to assume he would take a grip of Mt Kenya region behind Uhuru’s back. 

Further, the MP said Ruto has been “outrightly defying” the President especially on early campaigns and the BBI project which he sees calculated to scuttle his 2022 bid.

“He believed that he could buy off Mt Kenya MPs and senators, and use them to win over the region with or without Uhuru’s blessing.

When the President urged him to stop early campaigns he defied him; and encouraged his allies to also be defiant,” the MP told People Daily Yesterday.

Ngunjiri added: “What he didn’t know is that literally every elected leader in Mt Kenya was elected because they committed to work with Uhuru.

The defiance they started showing Uhuru has backfired and eroded any goodwill the DP had in the region.”

His sentiments were supported by Minority Whip in Parliament Junet Mohamed who accused Ruto of being impatient and openly going against his boss’s wishes.

“He went too early, he should have waited for the President to take him to the Mt Kenya electorate. Moreover, he ignored Uhuru’s advice to stop early campaigns,” the MP said.

But Soy MP Caleb Kositany, a Ruto supporter, rubbished claims that the DP was suffering from his own undoing, saying he is a victim of people out to frustrate his presidential ambitions.

No value

“What the DP is facing are normal succession politics where there are always dirty games and where the strongest people are hit the most. He has been accused of doing early campaigns and what they want is for him to stop so that they can deal with him,” the MP said.

 The MP said Ruto and his allies do not regret folding URP because it had led to more gains, notably unity among Kenyans from different regions, adding that claims of the DP disrespecting Uhuru were false, saying Ruto had never insulted Uhuru.

Michael Mugo, former lecturer at Laikipia University, said Ruto needs to deliberately avoid any confrontation with the President and that he should be cautious of the people he associates with.

“Some of the people who the DP has chosen as his point men are not adding value to him. Some of them, especially from Mt Kenya region, do not represent the opinion of the people. His strategy can crumble very easily,” Mugo said.

Former Kitutu Masaba MP Timothy Bosire said Ruto had failed to deal with the challenges of succession politics.

He said Ruto lost it when he defied his boss’s calls for a stop to early campaigns.

“Ruto has failed to read the mood of the people, which is the need for development and harmony,” Bosire said. 

Though Ruto is a brilliant politician, who has always risen to the occasion and overcome challenges to rise to where he is today, Bosire said the DP had missed an opportunity for a smooth ride to State House.

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