Ruto’s dilemma: Take on State agents or not?

Tuesday, October 13th, 2020 09:00 | By
Deputy President William Ruto with the Head of Holy Ghost Coptic Church Father John Pesa I during a meeting at his Sugoi home in Eldoret, Uasin Gichu county. Photo/DPPS

Allies of Deputy President William Ruto troop to his Karen residence in Nairobi tomorrow for a brainstorming meeting faced with one critical decision: To take the government head-on or make a tactical retreat in the wake of a crackdown on his political activities?

A section of his allies is agitating for a confrontation with the government and is said to be pushing the DP to take his battle to the streets through demonstrations and protests as his legal team weighs options for an alternative political party for his 2022 State House ambitions.

Another group, which mainly comprises elderly and moderate politicians, is reportedly urging the DP to make a tactical retreat until a few months to the General Election when he can come out to stake his claim on the top seat.

“At the moment, we have instructed a team of lawyers to explore all the available legal options before we can think of other alternatives.

We are not ready for any confrontation, which we may resort to at a later stage,” Embakasi North MP James Gakuya, one of the moderates, told People Daily by telephone yesterday.

Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua, one of the diehard supporters of the DP, disclosed they were weighing various options on the way forward, including moving to court to challenge implementation of the Public Order Act.

“A number of people and institutions, including the Law Society of Kenya, are going to challenge the rules set by the State.

This will be a clear case since what the State has done is unconstitutional,” Gachagua said, apparently unaware that the lawyers’ body had already moved to court yesterday to challenge the guidelines.

Gachagua blamed Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai for allegedly allowing security officers to block the DP from holding his meetings, an accusation that Ruto himself stated when he met a group of clergy from Luo Nyanza at his Sugoi home in Eldoret yesterday.

Ruto said it was the responsibility of the police to serve all Kenyans equally, irrespective of ethnic and political affiliation or social status.

“It is unfortunate that police cordoned off the venues of Kakamega church functions at the weekend while allowing others to go on uninterrupted,” said Ruto.

He said the 2010 Constitution empowers police to be independent while discharging their duties, adding that it was wrong for law enforcement officers to apply the law selectively.

“Let’s not turn Kenya into an Animal Farm, where all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

All Kenyans must be served equally, irrespective of who is leaning on which direction politically.

Law must be applied equally, not selectively,” said Ruto in reference to ODM leader Raila Odinga’s weekend meetings at his Opoda home, Siaya County.

The former Prime Minister hosted a delegation from the Kikuyu Council of Elders in events that went on smoothly.

Yesterday, Gachagua insisted they were in the ruling Jubilee Party to stay and would not accept to be tagged as strangers.

We spoke to political analysts who reckoned that as the DP makes his decision tomorrow, it would be politically dangerous for him to resign as this would expose him to further attacks by the State machinery as well as his political opponents.

Honourably leave

However, the analysts are divided on whether Ruto should follow the path taken by Kenya’s first Vice President Jaramogi Oginga Odinga who resigned and formed his own political party, the Kenya People’s Union (KPU) or emulate former President Daniel arap Moi who took all political frustrations in his stride until he ascended to the top seat.

“To me, the DP has only one option... to honourably leave Jubilee Party and form his own political party that he can call his home. You can’t continue fighting somebody from his house.

Jubilee has its owners,” said Prof Karuti Kanyinga, a political scientist at the University of Nairobi’s Institute of Development Studies.

But Prof Macharia Munene of the United States International University (USIU)-Africa counselled Ruto to do a thorough soul-searching to “discover” himself.

“Is he going to take the path taken by Jaramogi or Moi? To do this, he must first know his position in government, what he wants and how he would like to achieve it,” Prof Munene said.

Munene observed that whereas Ruto’s position is constitutionally protected, he must decide which role to play in government... whether of opposition or an insider.

“Looking at the history of the past VPs, Ruto has the ball in his own court to decide which path to follow.

He may decide to resign like what Joseph Murumbi did and disappear into oblivion.

He can as well choose to follow Jaramogi, who decided to form his own opposition party, but never made any headway or follow Moi’s meekness to glory.” 

According to Prof Munene, it is too early for Ruto to take on the State directly, without jeopardising his chances, businesses and allies.

It would be unwise of him to resign as it would also be used against his bid for State House by labelling him a rebel who walked out on his boss.

The radical group pushing for a confrontation with the police is said to comprise mainly youthful politicians such as former Senators Boni Khalwale and Hassan Omar; MPs Kimani Ichung’wa (Kikuyu), Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu), Alice Wahome (Kandara), Susan Kihika (Nakuru Woman Rep), Kimani Ngunjiri (Bahati), Oscar Sudi (Kapseret), Aisha Jumwa (Malindi), Nixon Korir (Lang’ata), Johana Ng’eno (Emurua Dikirr), Ben Washiali (Mumias East) and former Machakos Senator Johnstone Muthama.

However, the group is reportedly facing opposition from conservatives such as Caleb Kositany (Soy), Samson Cherargei (Nandi Senator), Governors Paul Chepkwony (Kericho) and Jackson Mandago (Uasin Gishu), MPs Victor Munyaka (Machakos Town), Nimrod Mbai (Mwala), and Senators Christopher Lagat (Bomet), Aaron Cheruiyot (Kericho) and Mithika Linturi (Meru), among others.

Yesterday, Khalwale said his group is determined to take the government head-on:  “There is no going back.

Our harambees to churches and empowerment of the youth will continue as scheduled.

All these roadblocks are being placed on the DP’s path to deter him from ascending to the Presidency. But we shall not be cowed.” 

He disclosed that apart from taking on the government, they had resolved to have Ruto make impromptu visits to churches, women’s and youth groups meetings to beat the government order.

Responding to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Saturday olive branch, Khalwale disclosed that Ruto is not ready to enter into any dialogue that would bring on board Raila, Musalia Mudavadi (ANC leader) and Kalonzo Musyoka, the Wiper Party boss.

“Raila and the other two are the cause of the problems we are facing. The faster they are kicked out of government affairs, the better.

The DP should be allowed to play his constitutional role in government,” Khalwale stated.

Government affairs

Muthama, Wahome, Omar, Kihika and Jumwa separately said the train had already the station in as far as dialogue is concerned.

“Nobody is going to block us from going to church. And nobody shall stop us from moving around the country empowering our youth.

We are ready for anything, including death if that is what would liberate the country,” Muthama said.

On Sunday after the DP defied the government directive to address gatherings by attending a church service in Machakos, with former State House operative Denis Itumbi, now a Ruto ally, indicating they would use all means to further their agenda.

“Deep State says the DP going to church is a threat to national security. Now he is in church in Machakos, which security has been compromised?,” Itumbi tweeted.

But MP Gakuya cautioned his colleagues to hold their horses until all legal mechanisms are explored and exhausted.

“Confrontations should be a last resort, but for the time being, we have instructed our lawyers to move to court.

We are not retreating, but trying to see the best options to achieve our goal,” Gakuya.

He confirmed tomorrows breakfast meeting in Karen. Kositany said they are not ready to enter into any confrontation with either the police or government.

“We are going to abide by what they are asking us to do... seek permission from the police and if they decline, we shall let Kenyans to decide on what is happening,” said Kositany.

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