Inside the long-drawn plan to cut Ruto down to size
SEE ALSO :Ruto threatened me, claims MutuaWhen they exchanged their political marital vows in Nakuru on December 2, 2012, Uhuru and Ruto declared that Uhuru would rule for 10 years, after which he would support Ruto. Ruto would then “have his 10 years” with his hands on the reins of Kenya’s horse of political power. Shortly afterwards, the founding Mother of the Kenyan Nation – and President Uhuru’s highly respected and powerful mother – Mama Ngina Kenyatta, laid her hands on Ruto’s head as a sign of a mother’s blessings. On Thursday August 22, 2013, Ruto had the rare prestigious privilege of leading the Kenyan nation in remembering President Kenyatta, during the 35th anniversary of the passing on of the founding President. He later joined the Kenyatta family at a memorial service at the Holy Family Basilica. There were numerous other public displays of amity, bon homie and esprit de corps between the President and his family on the one hand and the DP on the other. So, what went wrong and why must he be locked out of the 2022 race? Several hypotheses have been floated. First is the unfinished business of 2007/08. Following the flawed presidential poll, Ruto was perceived to have played a leading role in pogroms against the Kikuyu in Rift Valley. It has never been proven, however, that this was indeed the case. Regardless, the Maina Kiai-led Kenya National Human Rights Commission (KNHR) issued its report of 2008, pointing an accusatory finger at Ruto, among other alleged reprobates. According to this hypothesis, another report, by the Philip Waki Commission, from pages 78 to 132 points to the unfinished business of 2007/08 that seems to be wiggling its way back to turn Ruto’s 2022 dreams into a nightmare. The 2007/08 affairs also speak to a political marriage of convenience, in which one side has cloyed its spousal cravings. It is now ready, it would seem, to abandon the other partner and even revisit old grievances. To this end, Ruto is worried that plans could be afoot to open up the matter of the International Criminal Court (ICC) against him. He has confided his fears in his closer associates and has even come out to express them openly. Every so often, Senators Kipchumba Murkomen of Elgeyo Marakwet and Samson Cherargei of Nandi have voiced these worries. Cherargei has cautioned that to bring back the ICC is open up the pandora box, or even touch off a powder keg. The ghosts of 2007/08 affair remain troublesome, however. The country will want to exorcise and put them to rest, once and for all, regardless of whether Ruto becomes Kenya’s next President or not. The Kikuyu diaspora in the Rift Valley quietly expresses fears to the effect that abandoning, or betraying, Ruto, could lead to a backlash against them, particularly seeing that his Kalenjin community has honoured its promise to support Uhuru and twice led him to victory. There is a mounting sense of betrayal, with perpetuation of the perception that the Central Kenya community cannot be trusted to keep its political promises to support a person from outside. Another hypothesis, however, is that Ruto only has himself to blame for the fallout with his boss. He is accused of having failed the test of humility. There has been general unhappiness around the President that during Jubilee’s first tenure, Ruto comported himself as if he was another centre of power, besides the President. Granted, they got elected as a coalition of parties. Ruto’s URP and Uhuru’s TNA were equal shareholders in the 2013 government. However, political savviness dictated that Ruto should have gone on to be self-effacing and allowed Uhuru’s star to shine to the fullest. This school of thought suggests that Ruto often came across as domineering, hogging time and limelight at presidential functions, attempting to eclipse the boss. He would speak with authority and issue edicts in the President’s presence. Uhuru did not like this, but he bore it all with fortitude, because he knew that he would need Ruto in 2017. Allegations also exist of unsavory pronouncements against Uhuru, in Ruto’s local dialect. But, particularly offensive was Ruto’s dynasty talk. Ruto has never shied away from parading his humble origins. He has often talked of his days as a chicken hawker on the roadside; how he went to school barefoot, and how he has washed his hands “to sit at table with those who were born with silver spoons in their mouth.” He calls himself a hustler and states publicly that someday, Kenya’s hustler nation will have its time in the sunshine. This kind of talk is taken as a straight blow on the forehead of President Kenyatta. Apart from the Hague matter, Uhuru has hardly known adversity, beyond natural universal levelers, like ailment and death in the family. Ruto’s talk against what he calls “dynasties” has not been taken well at all. It is one of the things working against him, according to this school. Then there is the Raila Odinga angle. From the very outset, Raila and Ruto were always birds of different feathers. Raila views himself as a progressive radical, while he considers Ruto to be a social reactionary and a system man; besides being a social climber. There is no love lost between the two. Friend of convenience This is despite the fact that between 2005-08, they worked very closely, with Ruto assiduously fighting to make Raila the president and – having failed that – the Prime Minister in 2008. Ruto views Raila as an ingrate and a user of people. Following the 2007/08 fiasco, Ruto began showing mounting restlessness with Raila. In any event, Raila had in the first place been only a friend of convenience during the 2005 constitutional referendum – where their Orange team defeated President Mwai Kibaki’s Banana team. They transformed their referendum team into a political party, the Orange Democratic Movement Kenya Party (ODM-K), and later migrated to ODM, when Kalonzo Musyoka ran away with their ODM (K) certificate. The nascent fallout between Ruto and Raila gravitated around portfolio sharing in the Grand Coalition Government of 2008-13. Ruto wanted to be Deputy Prime Minister, but Raila gave the position to Musalia Mudavadi. He also wanted to be the Minister for Local Government, again Raila gave this portfolio to Mudavadi. Third, he wanted to be the Deputy Party Leader – once again this went to Mudavadi. Ruto expressed his dissatisfaction at public gatherings. Next came the question of Kalenjin youth who were allegedly arrested during the PEV. Ruto complained that Raila was doing nothing about them. Raila, on his part, denied that there were any such youth. He challenged Ruto to publish their names. They were never published. In the wake of this came evictions from the Mau Forest. The role that fell directly under Raila as the Prime Minister in the new government. Ruto led the Kalenjin people in protesting against the evictions. They accused Raila of persecuting them after they had helped him ascend to power. Then came the ICC affair. Raila went on to state in public that everyone should bear his own cross. This was it. He had at last crossed the red line. It did not help matters at all that the Waki Report had at page 408 a witness’s account, which alleged that Raila had on September 5, 2007 told American officers he would “finish (off) former President Moi, Ruto and other Kalenjin(s) who had ruined Kenya as soon as he becomes President,” later that year. According to the Waki Report, the meeting is alleged to have taken place on the 17th floor of the J Edgar Hoover Building, 935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington DC. The FBI are alleged to have recorded Raila making these pronouncements and the tapes are said to be available. This account suggested, therefore, that barely four months to the 2007 poll, Ruto was working hard to make Raila President while Raila was thinking about incarcerating him. Whatever the truth in these matters, the negative energy between the DP and the ODM leader is profound and old. The entry of the handshake and the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) is only the latest twist in longstanding mutual animosity. In 2002, they supported two mutually hostile political camps in the presidential race. Raila was with Kibaki, who went on to become the President, while Ruto was a kingpin in Uhuru’s losing Kanu. Earlier, Ruto worked for President Moi, right from the Youth for Kanu ’92 formation to the 2002 Uhuru Project. All this time Raila was in the Opposition, apart from a short stint when he patched up with Moi under the New Kanu in 2002. It is also worth mentioning that there was another fallout during the Grand Coalition Government, when Raila attempted to sack Ruto over corruption. This was, however, the excuse rather than the reason. The reason was that Ruto had become openly defiant and had, for all practical reasons, left ODM. Ruto scoffed at the dismissal, telling Raila he was not the appointing authority. Kibaki affirmed this by clarifying that the dismissal did not have any effect. The handshake of March 9, 2018 was, in the light of relations between Ruto and Uhuru, on the one hand, and between Ruto and Raila on the other, only the ripe moment for the next wave of differences. Old scores and fears are back. And Ruto’s adversaries are crowding in on him like vultures. They have wormed their way into the BBI with their old scores. The BBI seems to be only a convenient vehicle to jettison him into political oblivion. Even if the BBI was not there, Ruto’s adversaries would still look for another vehicle through which he should be accosted and tamed. The issue is that Ruto must go, at all costs. The corruption allegations against him are probably true. They could also be false. It does not seem to matter, however. The allegations are only one of the many balloons his adversaries are floating. Initially, the game plan seemed to be that he should be made to look so dirty and to smell so bad, that nobody would want to vote for him. Action plan It turns out that this does not seem to bother a Kenyan electorate that sees corrupt leaders everywhere, and even seems to love them and their money. If Ruto’s name is on the ballot, therefore, he could still be a headache. Francis Atwoli, the Cotu secretary general, and Murathe – a Jubilee Party honcho – have stated repeatedly that Ruto will not make it to that ballot paper. The strategy is three-pronged. First, is to subject him to Fabian tactics. Keep him fighting for his political and economic life until he runs out of all energy and surrenders. In this regard, the action plan is to bring up as many cases as his detractors could possibly lay their hands upon, including those that are only of nuisance value. Let him spend his money, time and sleepless nights on these. The second strategic prong is to isolate him politically by giving him feet of clay. Anyone who associates with him should be made to find him such a painfully inconvenient friend that they must drop him. This is to be achieved though incessant use of the law to harass and incarcerate his sympathisers. This is already being done through the police and anti-corruption systems. A lonely and isolated Ruto could willingly throw in the towel. Third, if all else fails, find a way of reopening up the ICC case and take him back to The Hague. Hopefully he will enter a plea bargain, where he will accept not to run – and possibly quit politics altogether, in exchange for his freedom. It will be interesting to watch those spaces, and interesting reading too. Stay with us.
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