Deputy President William Ruto’s allies meet next week to strategise how to turn around the political fortunes of their man under continuous fire.
There is rising suspicion that President Uhuru Kenyatta and his principal assistant are no longer reading from the same page.
With analysts divided over whether the recent moves by the President are undermining his deputy, observers and Ruto’s supporters are keen to know his options as he becomes increasingly isolated in the Uhuru succession race.
Reeling from the surprise executive order by President Kenyatta last week which gave Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i chairmanship of the coordination, supervisory and strategic communication committee, there is a general agreement within Ruto’s circles that they can no longer sit and watch.
The understanding is that Ruto had initially instructed his henchmen not to be caught up in the storm in the Jubilee Party that had been ignited by his allies from Central Kenya led by Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria so as not to attract fire. This too has failed.
The meeting scheduled for next week will centre on Ruto’s political survival and review of the recent move by President Kenyatta to appoint Matiang’i to the powerful committee.
The DP has for a long time been criss-crossing the country to ‘launch’ various development projects and has used this to popularise himself.
To make matters worse, a meeting of Jubilee top leadership -- which comprises mostly of Ruto’s allies -- called by the President ended up being a dressing down by Uhuru who demanded that they toe the party line.
A senator who did not wish to be named, said the President did not give anyone time to talk and only insisted on unity of purpose and asked the MPs to toe the line or face the consequences.
“It was a tense meeting,” said the senator.
Mid last year, Uhuru ordered a freeze on new projects. Some thought the move was to curb Ruto’s appetite for unveiling development projects across the country.
The executive order released this week while the President was in a meeting in Mombasa and in the absence of his deputy, according to political analyst Dismas Mokua, effectively disconnected the DP from the functions of the sub-committee of the full Cabinet.
The sub-committee now directly reports to the President and not the presidency.
Political scientist Mutahi Ngunyi however believes that nothing has changed and that political status quo remains for Ruto.
“Uhuru is doing what he has to do. Organising his government to ensure effective implementation of his legacy projects. Ruto is his principal assistant in anything he does and therefore the decision does not alienate him,” argues Prof Mutahi.
But another political analyst Javas Bigambo argues there is a carefully crafted strategy to make Ruto’s political path slippery.
Uhuru and Ruto, according to Bigambo, seem to be drifting apart quietly.
The DP, Bigambo said, knows this too well being a shrewd politician.
“Their interests are no longer common -- whereas Uhuru is grappling with legacy and how he wants to be remembered when he retires. Ruto’s eyes are trained and focussed at the prize of the presidency in the next just forty months,” Bigambo explained.
But now, the DP’s camp says it is ready to hit back. A meeting has been planned to discuss the recent happenings.
The Sunday Standard has learned that the DP had asked his allies not to be caught up in the political melee.
“As the DP’s foot soldiers, we did not want to throw punches to the air. We are now re-strategising so that the same punches can be directed to the right place,” said Keiyo South MP Daniel Rono.
“The silence from the team is a tack, we know where we are and do not have to make a lot of noise. When an appropriate time comes, we will express our political views,” said Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua.
Bigambo believes the silence strategy is working and the DP should milk it dry.
“He has had happy hours in politics. He has had to work landmines to his advantage,” he said.
In the meantime, other Ruto allies are like Kipkelion West MP Hillary Kosgey is accusing Raila of attempting to frustrate Ruto.
“We know that Raila is trying all he can to muddy waters at Jubilee. Once he is done with the wrecking, he will have the last laugh,” said Kosgey.