Raila Odinga, DP William Ruto renew 2022 battle

Deputy President William Ruto (right) and ODM leader Raila Odinga during the installation of Most Reverend Philip Anyolo as the Archbishop of Kisumu Catholic Archdiocese. [File, Standard]

The animosity between Deputy President William Ruto and Opposition leader Raila Odinga has blown up yet again, renewing their supremacy battle.

The bare knuckle tackle on Friday escalated yesterday with the leaders tearing into each other, as their allies clutched onto their coattails to reinforce their positions.

The resurgence of a forceful Raila, who is not pulling his punches, and a restless DP, who is not sitting back to take the punches, has all indications of an unraveling political melodrama - which may end up in a ballot.

Ruto is sticking his neck out to defend the Jubilee projects from being demonised and make them a huge plank for the election in 2022. If the projects are discredited, the DP and team will have no solid ground to pivot their campaigns.

Frustrates political ambitions

But for Raila, the strategy appears to have Kenyans believe that Ruto is the patron of corruption. It is with these contrasting messaging that the two fired salvos at each other on Friday, salvos which were re-stoked yesterday.

“He gifted the bishop a car last year, but the head of the church rejected it and directed that it be returned, because the source of the funds is not clear.We all know that this is corruption money,” Raila told mourners at a burial in Kisumu yesterday.

He was referring to a car gift presented to Kisumu Catholic Diocese Arch Bishop Philip Anyolo by Ruto when he was being installed last year. Raila also questioned where Rutowas getting the millions he was donating to churches every weekend.

“The church is busy congratulating them, yet these people are embezzling funds meant for development. They sit down when money is brought to them in huge sacks, claiming these leaders are working hard and investing in heaven,” claimed Raila in further frontal attack on the DP.

But speaking in Nyeri at a church function, Ruto claimed the Jubilee government, its development projects, as well as the succession plan, were victims of a political game. He did not however mention Raila by name, but left every impression of what he was talking about. “Let us not lie that money has been stolen so that Jubilee comes off as a failed administration and frustrates our political ambitions. We are not stupid and will not allow that,” he said.

He said that the dams in question; Arror and Kimwarer, would proceed, as well as Karemenu, Thwake and Itare.

“We will build those dams because we are a responsible government that will stand by what we promised Kenyans. What is unacceptable to us is exaggeration with the aim of politicising and profiling government projects to be used in political campaigns down the road,” he said.

Ruto and Raila had in the last one year treated each other with civility and avoided bitter spats.

The renewed acrimonious fray comes a  week into the one year anniversary of the handshake between President Kenyatta and the former PM on March 9 that marked the cessation of hostilities.

At the Nyeri event, NASA co-principals Kalonzo Musyoka and Musalia Mudavadi were in attendance. They riled Jubilee government over implosion of corruption in mega projects.

“If we don’t move with speed, there will be a revolution and Kenyans will take the law into their own hands to solve the problem of corruption themselves and we shouldn’t let it get to that,” Kalonzo warned. 

“These figures are staggering,” Mudavadi said. “The funds that have been could have gone to teachers or nurses. There are 8 million jobless youth in this country and what becomes of them if we lose such amounts of money?” he posed.

Yesterday, the DP’s allies picked his cue, with National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale saying they were ready to call Raila for who he was. 

“We know his sole purpose is to rock the Jubilee administration, he will later have the last laugh. But we will not allow him to succeed in his heinous plans,” Duale charged.

Propaganda and innuendos

Kikuyu MP Kamau Ichungwa’h was categorical that Raila and his brigade  were deploying their bad manners of propaganda and innuendos to forestall government efforts to deliver on development projects.

But National assembly Minority Leader and Suba South MP John Mbadi countered that the arguments about Raila rocking the Jubilee party are side shows to the weighty matters they are raising.

Having enjoyed a lull, the two political protagonists started off on a high note, and political analyst Daniel Kipruto believes that it all boils down to 2022 politics and that the political fight was likely to be sustained. At the funerals of Nairobi’s Kaloleni former senior chief Daudi Owino and an ally Leonard Muganda, Raila also drummed support for immediate former MP of Ugenya Chris Karan, whose elections was nullified by the Supreme Court.

Yesterday, however, Archbishop Anyolo denied Raila’s claims. “The church has no mechanism of establishing whether or not a gift presented to it is from proceeds of corruption or not, but we have a firm stand against such societal ills,” he said in an interview.