On the assassination allegation, Ruto has committed cardinal sin

Deputy President William Ruto.
We’ve all heard about the fable of the boy who cried wolf. In it, a shepherd tricks villagers that wolves are attacking his herd. Only there were no wolves – and no wolf attacks. But then when a wolf finally attacked – and the herdsboy called for help – no one came to the rescue. That’s because the wily villages had sussed him out – that he was a cheat fond of raising false alarms.

In some versions of the fable, the wolf actually eats the boy. The moral of the fable is clear – liars aren’t believed even when they tell the truth. This is what Deputy President William Ruto did with the assassination allegation.  Like the herdsboy, he apparently cried wolf falsely.

If, as it’s becoming apparent, that the “assassination” letter was the work of senior propagandists in Mr Ruto’s office, then his goose is as good as cooked. That old retreat into “plausible deniability” would be a story that he could only tell to the birds. Only a fool would believe a cockamamie fable that two senior aides went rogue.

That two of his trusted right-hand lieutenants went on a frolic of their own. Accusing members of the cabinet of a plot to assassinate the Deputy President, who is their boss, is a high wire act. It’s effect, whether true or false, is to put the government asunder. This is the sort of calculation Ruto would not doubt have made.

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Reluctant

Why is this so dicey and volcanic? First, the allegation comes hot on the heels of a leaked audio in which George Nyanja, a former MP, is allegedly speaking with Jubilee Secretary General Raphael Tuju about blackmailing Ruto into rebuilding the Kiambaa Church.

That church was the scene of the worst single pogrom in the 2007/8 near-genocidal violence. Women and children were burnt alive there, and no one has ever been held accountable.

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It’s not lost on anyone Mr Nyanja is a Kikuyu, the ethnicity of the victims. Was that audio fake? If so, is it connected to the “assassination” letter? If true, then Kenya is being to the edge of a satanic precipice. 

Second, let’s consider the fact that although Ruto reported the plot to rub him out, he’s been reluctant to file a formal complaint. This is a headscratcher. There’s no more powerful person in the country than Ruto except his boss. How can a plot on the life of the person a heartbeat away from the presidency be treated so casually by the target himself? Did Ruto set fire in the theater and run out screaming fire! Fire! If so, what were his intentions? Is he not bound by the law to tell the investigators everything he knows about the plot since he reported it? It’s not enough to claim the letter was on social media.

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Third, even the chickens in Kilifi know that those accused of masterminding the alleged plot are from the Mt Kenya region. It’s also transparent that the accused aren’t part of Ruto Tanga Tanga (I call them Manga Manga) group.

This group isn’t in sync with Jubilee’s Uhuru Kenyatta, Ruto’s boss. In fact,  Kenyatta has so much as disowned his own DP and the Manga Manga group in his repeated public remonstrations with them. Particularly galling to Kenyatta has been Ruto’s virus-like presence in Central Kenya. Ruto has pitched tent everywhere in Kenyatta’s backward. Kenyatta can’t fire him. So Ruto dares Kenyatta uta do? Or show me what you got.

Fourth, if the assassination letter was done by his senior aides, it’s unbelievable that Ruto wasn’t aware of it, or didn’t order it. I say so because Ruto runs a tight ship. There’s no way his senior aides would pull off such a dangerous act without his express orders. So, this is the question – since the whole thing has boomeranged, will Ruto throw them under the bus to save his own skin? Methinks he must, or confess to a crime. In effect, what Ruto has done is to give his political enemies a loaded gun. What will they do with the gun? Arrest him and risk an outcry? This would be tantamount to firing the gun.

Strategic mind

Finally, Ruto is known for his political acumen and brilliant strategic mind. But on this one, he has committed the cardinal sin – the blunder is so colossal that he may have ended his political career. He’s taken the fight to Kenyatta’s doorstep. He’s spoiling for a duel, a mano-a-mano with his boss. Is Ruto so blinded by ambition, and so driven to ascend to the State House that he’s willing to do anything to get there? If not, why the kamikaze tactics?

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- The writer is SUNY Distinguished Professor at SUNY Buffalo Law School and Chair of KHRC.  @makaumutua.

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William RutoDP Ruto AssasinationDennis ItumbiCardinal Sin