Uhuru, Ruto camps pull in different directions over 2022

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate William Ruto waving at a cheering crowd as they head to present their presidential nomination papers to the IEBC at the KICC. [Photo: Maxwell Agwanda]

Jubilee House, the monstrous edifice that headquarters President Uhuru Kenyatta’s second term “special purpose vehicle” is now almost dormant.

Once teeming with activity and power, the missiles flying across the top echelons of the party have taken their toll on it, reducing it to a shell of a six storey.

Other than the reception and the floor that houses Secretary General Raphael Tuju’s office, all is quiet in the building. It sounds eerily familiar to Mwenge House of the yore.

The Chinese Communist Party top officials who were to rebrand and equip the party with purpose, have come and gone. Nothing remains of their lessons on party unity, instead disunity and doublespeak has become its second nature.

Party officials sent to China to learn how to engineer a monolithic political giant have since returned to Nairobi but coiled themselves into the murk of Kenyan politics. 

Bolted out

The Jubilee Party leader, his deputy the secretary general and vice chairman have once or more times been talking at cross purpose.

The ‘former’ vice chair David Murathe among the founder members and once one of the cogs in Jubilee bolted out leaving the two-year-old party limping.

Mr Murathe a close ally of President Kenyatta did not just leave, he has publicly avowed a mission to prevent Deputy President William Ruto who is Jubilee’s deputy party leader, from vying for the presidency in 2022.

But it is the clashes between the party leader and his deputy that point at a cynical situation in the ruling party.

On Thursday, President Kenyatta said he was not interested in another term in office as if to respond a group allied to Ruto who have in the past pressured him to declare his position.

Speaking when he officially closed the AfroChampions Boma inaugural forum on African infrastructure financing and delivery at Windsor Hotel, Nairobi, Kenyatta for the second time offered that he will retire after his term ends.

During an interview with CNN’s Richard Quest late last year, the President who had seemingly been under pressure from the DP’s allies to declare his position said he will quit power in 2022.

Nandi Governor Stephen Sang had taunted the president and his party leader to come forward and declare if he was interested in a third term.

“Come clean and tell us, we have supported you in 2002, 2013 and 2017 twice, tell us if you are interested we can talk,” Sang said. Similar clash triggered by the debate on the proposed referendum to change the Constitution has divided the party.

Whereas Kenyatta has indicated his support for the referendum, Ruto has shown reluctance.

The back and forth between the party leader and his deputy played out when Ruto claimed he had convinced the ODM candidate for Wajir West MP seat Prof Mohamed Elmi to step down only for Tuju to contradict and take the glory from him. In a statement allegedly sanctioned by the President, Tuju said that Elmi stepped down after the intervention of Kenyatta and Raila.

The divide between Tanga tanga, a tag for the Ruto allies and Kieleweke the anti-Ruto team is widening while the war of words is intensifying.

Some MPs led by Kipkelion West MP Hillary Kosgei argued for sobriety and a parliamentary group (PG) meeting to iron out the issues that were seemingly going out of hand.

“We have repeatedly requested for a PG meeting, we are supposed to periodically meet but it’s long since we had one, with a PG we can raise all our in house issues,” said Kosgei.

According to Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri all was not well in the ruling party and it would not be long before there is an implosion.

“Unless there is leadership of the party, we risk breaking our beloved party and the infiltration of ODM into Jubilee is part of the reason,” said Mr Ngunjiri.

National Assembly Majority Whip Benjamin Washiali indicated that they had formally

requested the president to convene a PG meeting. “It (PG) would offer our party an opportunity to ventilate on issues that threaten to decimate it,” said the Mumias East MP.

Whereas Washiali and Ngunjiri admit that all is not well in their party, they blame the handshake deal between Kenyatta and Raila.

“There is no political stability when you have one handshake with one person and start fixing another, it is a zero sum game,” said Washiali.

Those in the Kenyatta camp and popularly refer to themselves as Kieleweke have have been spoiling for a fight.

They are calling on the deputy party leader to leave the party since he no longer espouses its dream and aspiration. “Ruto is now fighting the president and this is not the spirit of the party, he is a rebel from within,” said Nyeri town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu, also leader of the Kieleweke camp.

Former Mukurweini MP Kabando wa Kabando believes the Tanga tanga and Kieleweke teams were irreconcilable.

“For 2022, it will be Yellow versus Vermillion, Yellow for Ruto team, with majority of incumbent governors, senators and MPs and Vermilion for RedOrange mix plus affiliates...with most new contestants and majority of former MPs/Senators. The centre can no longer hold,” said Mr Kabando.

But this call is not empty, Ruto’s camp could be ahead if the yellow colours used to drape Ruto’s meeting in Nakuru County last week was anything to go by.

Yellow colours as opposed to Jubilee’s red, are reminiscent of the Ruto’ URP party that was wounded up during Jubilee’s creation.

The Kipkelion West MP Hillary Kosgei said the only way to save the party was to have elections and have the office bearers popularise the party. “Our interim office holders have done a good job, we now want party polls,” he said.

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Jubilee HousePresident Uhuru Kenyatta2022 ElectionsDeputy President William RutoCracks in Jubilee