Rift in Jubilee widens as Ruto's allies hit back

(From left) Tharaka Nithi Senator Prof. Kindiki Kithure, Kenya National Congress party leader Peter Kenneth, Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen and Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria during a funds drive at Kaptinga area in Uasin Gishu County. [Kevin Tunoi/Standard]

Deputy President William Ruto’s allies have stepped up the attack on unnamed State House operatives they claim are scheming his downfall.

Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen yesterday claimed he would unmask top officials in the Jubilee government that he and his colleagues claim are working to frustrate Ruto’s 2022 presidential bid.

“I am giving them a few days to tell Kenyans why they are causing rifts in Jubilee, and why they are targeting the DP. If they don’t speak, I will name them in the next few days,” Mr Murkomen told The Standard yesterday.

He refuted claims that he was using his relationship with the DP to further foment trouble in Jubilee. “I stand by what I have said. If there is one who thinks otherwise, let them come out and oppose. The so-called lifestyle audit is a scheme by powerful Jubilee mandarins at State House, who are spending sleepless nights to make sure that Ruto does not vie for presidency in 2022,” Murkomen said.

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei, another DP’s ally, claimed the lifestyle audit being proposed for public servants was pure witch-hunt.

“The lifestyle audit is meant to target a specific person. You cannot do lifestyle audit for political expediency. It is a scheme by a clique of people, Uhuru’s kitchen cabinet. It will flop because it is being pushed with a specific result in mind,” said the senator.

Mr Cherargei, who is also the Senate’s Justice, Legal Affairs and Human Rights Committee chair, said if Kenyans were serious about the audit, then it would start from 1963.

Ruto declared in Mombasa last week that he would be among the first to submit to a lifestyle audit that he added all public officials should be ready to go through.

Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu, however, said Murkomen’s remarks confirm that those aligned to the DP are uncomfortable with the lifestyle audit being proposed to weed out corruption.

“What is it that the DP is doing that he is being fought? Those working around the President only implement a shared vision. The President has not fired anyone, that means they are doing the best,” said Mr Wambugu.

Murkomen blamed some State House officials of sowing seeds of discord between Uhuru and his deputy.

Seeds of discord

“We are concerned about a ‘small wing’ of individuals who occupy high offices, who spend their time planting seeds of discord within Jubilee. If the President and the Deputy President do not face the issues squarely, I can tell you for sure Tusipoziba ufa tutajenga ukuta,” Murkomen had said in an interview with a local television station on Sunday night.

He said the concerns that the said people existed and worked in the President’s office was obvious and that he would name them soon.

Murkomen said he had a problem with the lifestyle audit because it was not anchored in law and that it was bound to be abused. “I will only take part in lifestyle audit if it is supported by a legal framework,” said Murkomen.

In a thinly veiled reference to Opposition chief Raila Odinga, Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria said that ‘Jubilee House’ was quiet and it is only from March that they started having issues from what he termed as ‘alien’ people.

Causing ripples

Mr Kuria supported Murkomen’s stance on a clique of people around Uhuru, who he said were causing ripples in the party. “We know there are people engaging in smear campaign. I was a sycophant of Mwai Kibaki, I became a sycophant of Uhuru and now I am a sycophant of William Ruto. I have no apologies for being a sycophant,” said Kuria.

Sports CS Rashid Echesa said the lifestyle audit should target all leaders, including those in Opposition. Rashid, who decamped from ODM, also wants Raila to say how he acquired his wealth.