Mentored by Moi, William Ruto returns to disturb his master's descendants

President-elect William Ruto signs the condolence book opened at Kabarnet Gardens in honour of former president Daniel Arap Moi, February 4, 2020. [David Gichuru, Standard]

President-elect William Ruto has on several occasions confessed that President Daniel Moi was a father figure who taught and mentored many into politics-himself included.

Dr Ruto has said that the late president hugely contributed to what the country, its leaders and people are today. Two years ago, Ruto, while mourning Moi, shared key moments that defined their father-son relationship, politically.

Thirty years ago, the president-elect served as executive officer of the Youth for Kanu ‘92 (YK’92) lobby group. He recalled that Moi at one time gave him and three others property in Eldoret.

“Moi was a very generous person. He really went out of his way and he may have influenced us in some way. At one point we went to see him, four of us university students, and we asked him to give us a piece of land and he actually did. We sold the piece of land and I remember I bought my first car,” Ruto said during an interview with a local TV station.

In the 1997 General Election, Ruto defeated incumbent MP Reuben Chesire to become Eldoret North MP. His favourable standing with Moi saw him appointed director of elections for Kanu.

In 2002, Ruto supported Uhuru Kenyatta, who was Moi’s preferred successor. He was appointed assistant minister in the Home Affairs (Interior) docket. He would later be promoted to Cabinet minister.

KANU diehard

In 2005, Ruto was elected Kanu secretary general while Uhuru was elected as chairperson. In 2013, together with Uhuru, they formed the Jubilee Party.

Although Ruto was a Kanu diehard and beneficiary of Moi’s largesse, it appears there has been no love lost between him and the family of his mentor.

William Ruto (right) supported Uhuru Kenyatta, who was Moi’s preferred successor, in 2002. [File, Standard]

Five years ago, Ruto accused Kanu of being rudderless in the 2013 polls, saying it was neither in government nor in opposition. At the same time, he prevailed upon Labour Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui to drop his bid for the Baringo governor seat and instead vie for the Senate.

Ruto launched a campaign against Gideon Moi who was seeking to defend his seat for a second term. This was despite Kanu’s support for the Jubilee party and President Uhuru Kenyatta’s presidential bid.

Gideon went on to emerge the victor, garnering 116,209 votes against Chelugui’s 70,182 and 3,439 votes by ODM’s Kennedy Ayabei.

Early this month, Ruto returned to Baringo where he campaigned for William Cheptumo. During a rally at Kabarnet ASK showground, Ruto urged Gideon, who was also on the ballot, to throw his weight behind their campaign.

“When your father needed us to stand with him, we stood with him. Now it is your turn to stand with us. It is your turn to stand with your brother William Ruto. It is your turn to stand with William Cheptumo to be the senator of Baringo County,” he said.

At Ruto’s urging, residents voted out Gideon who had 71,480 votes to Cheptumo’s 144,777 votes.

Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance Party next set it sights on Rongai constituency where it launched a campaign against incumbent MP Raymond Moi.

Following a mix-up of ballot papers, as stated by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, the parliamentary election was held on August 29, nearly three weeks after the General Election.

President-elect William Ruto was a student of Kenya’s second president as far back as 1992. [File, Standard]

The party’s elected leaders- who included Deputy President-elect Rigathi Gachagua and Nakuru Governor Susan Kihika- poured into the region to drum up support for their candidate, Paul Chebor.

Raymond, who was seeking to defend his seat for a third term, said that 54 elected leaders traversed the constituency seeking his ouster.

On Monday, Bomet Governor Hillary Barchok, David Gikaria (Nakuru Town East MP-elect), Johana Ng’eno (Emurua Dikir MP-elect), Joseph Makilap (Baringo North MP-elect), Musa Sirma (Eldama Ravine MP-elect), and John Methu (Nyandarua Senator-elect) were among those deployed to various polling stations to, according to Prof Barchok, “ensure our UDA candidate Paul Kibet Chebor brings the trophy home.”

Expressed concern

Raymond expressed concern at the deployment, saying it was meant to intimidate voters. He was particularly upset with the IEBC for allowing UDA party agents to ‘run all over’.

When the counting was done, Chebor was declared winner with 27,021 votes while Raymond got 14,715 votes.

Former Marakwet East MP Francis Mutwol termed the happenings as unfortunate. He said while Ruto helped Moi during the YK’92 days, the president had reciprocated with support in and out of politics.

“The relationship between Moi and Ruto was fairly good. We know Ruto came to politics because of Moi. He held his hand and showed him the way,” said Mr Mutwol.

While conceding that Ruto could have realised he needed numbers in Parliament hence the bare-knuckle fight for Rongai, the former legislator also opined that Moi might have withheld his assistance had he known his protégé would one day go against his sons.

President-elect William Ruto (right). During this year’s elections, he campaigned against two of his mentor’s children. [File, Standard]

Political analyst Gitile Naituli was more blunt, saying what the president-elect had done went against the expected, and accepted, norms.

“Ruto ought to be a perfect diplomat. The moment he made it his business to fight, then he loses because those people will fight back. He ought to have allowed a plain playground and avoid boasting,” Prof Gitile said.

Ruto’s actions to capture Parliament, he said, were not patriotic. “In a democracy, you don’t deploy and make sure you are winning the seat; you allow your agenda to win you the seat. Ruto has exaggerated his organisational capacity and when people sense you have an incredible desire for the total they will resist that.”

The analyst predicted that the president-elect “will soon face resistance”.