President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto are yet to see each other eye to eye for three weeks amid simmering tensions in their once revered Jubilee juggernaut.
The once memorable bromance between the pair has dissipated into thin air and its place taken by mistrust that went a notch higher this week in a flurry of political madness triggered by his men - former Jubilee Vice Chairman David Murathe and Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria.
The President has extended his working holiday at the Coast as Ruto shuttles between his Karen and Sugoi homes receiving delegations. The two leaders communication has been limited to phone calls and messaging through emissaries according a source who sought anonymity.
“There is little communication from the two. There is some mistrust between them,” said the source close to the presidency.
A meeting scheduled between the President and his deputy in Mombasa at the close of this week did not take place. Ruto instead flew to his Sugoi home to host delegations including one today where he will meeting leaders from Narok county.
Earlier last weekend, a day after Murathe declared he would block Ruto from the 2022 race, the DP failed to turn up in Mombasa for a presidential event held at Mama Ngina Drive. “The DP will travel on Sunday so as to attend the launch the following day,” DP’s spokesperson David Mugonyi had said ahead of the Monday event. It is not clear why the DP did not travel to Mombasa.
In addition, in the last three weeks the DP has slowed down on his travels around the country, his allies in Central Kenya capitulated at the weight of political pressure piled against them in the last one week.
By Thursday evening, all but one of the perceived MPs from Uhuru’s backyard had been forced to eat a humble pie and pledge allegiance to the President and the ‘handshake’.
The DP is understood to have directed his allies to hold their horses. What had started out as personal opinions of Murathe and Kuria had snowballed into a fierce contest for the soul of Jubilee, the party he hopes to ride onto power with in 2022.
To date, the President is yet to denounce the pronouncements of Murathe, who has since declared a total war against the DP. It is however understood that it is the President who gave Murathe an ultimatum to quit Jubilee in what was calculated to mollify the Ruto support base. At the Coast, Uhuru has regaled in the company of his newfound friend Raila Odinga, dancing to his 74th birthday and launching projects together. The tensions notwithstanding, DP’s henchmen are keeping a brave face.
“The President and his deputy enjoy a warm relationship that dates back to over two decades, and those who think otherwise are hoping that their cordial friendship would wane so that they can take advantage, they will wait for long,” National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale said.
Duale said both leaders were engaged in the Jubilee agenda of development and they did not need to be both in Nairobi.
But it was the President’s ‘washenzi hao’ remark that drew out the irk in his camp. It triggered a flurry of press conferences defending the handshake, denouncing 2022 politics and condemning Kuria and his allies.
From a number of elected leaders to Kikuyu Council of Elders, Women leaders led by Kirinyaga governor Anne Waiguru, to a group of former leaders and Amani National Congress and ODM parties support for Uhuru and Raila has come fast and furious.
According to Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua, Jubilee is still intact and those press conferences by the politicians were ‘useless’ and only meant to help some leaders gain relevance.
“People are coming out to defend the President against what? Even those who opposed him are now pretending to love Uhuru, we are witnessing highest kind of hypocracy. President Kenyatta is doing fine and does not need to be defended,” said Rigati.
Rigathi said those hawking the media limelight were “fake” Uhuru supporters, who spend their time in 2013 and 2017 opposing him and are now seeking political relevance.
Rigati said he had his reservations with the handshake because whereas Uhuru was genuine, Opposition leader Raila Odinga’s motive was suspect.
Rigati’s regards on the handshake captures the spirit in Ruto’s so-called tanga tanga team that has been reluctant to embrace it, fearing the opposition leader had only come to rock the ruling party.
Ironically seen as indicting Uhuru’s running of the party, Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen expressed open admiration for the way ODM was run. “Even during the handshake moment, the former Prime Minister called his party members and explained it and every time, they have consultative meetings,” said Murkomen.
It is not clear when Uhuru and Ruto will call for truce between them. What is clear, however, is that the DP side is not keen to get entangled in the implosion.
“We agreed that we should not be caught up in unnecessary political duel, our loyalty is to the President and his deputy, we want to support them in delivering on the Jubilee development agenda,” said Pokot South David Pkosing.