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Five Uhuru Kenyatta CSs who took William Ruto head-on in public

 

President William Ruto when he chaired the first cabinet meeting made up  Uhuru-era Cabinet secretaries before naming his own hours later. [PSCU, Standard]

President William Ruto chaired his first Cabinet meeting this morning. Of great interest was that it featured Uhuru Kenyatta-era CSs some of whom had taken Ruto head-on when he was the deputy president.

The CSs were still in office Ruto was yet to name a fresh Cabinet following his election on August 9 and subsequent victory in a petition filed by his main rival Raila Odinga. It didn't take him long. Five hours later the president named his Cabinet which is greatly populated with politicians, some of them already elected as members of parliament contrary to the constitution.

Here are the CSs that rubbed Ruto the wrong way:

FRED MATIANG’I

In 2019, President Uhuru Kenyatta signed an executive order handing Fred Matiang'i sweeping powers on the oversight of Government programmes.

As the Interior Cabinet secretary, a docket that deals with matters of security of the country, Matiang'i was to chair a key committee on the implementation of development programmes, whose membership includes all Cabinet secretaries, the Attorney General and Head of the Public Service, a mandate that a Government insider said essentially elevated him to a "prime minister or chief minister."

These powers would later clash with the mandate of William Ruto as a deputy president.

As it would later play on, Ruto was sidelined and his responsibilities taken away from him.

President William Ruto meets Interior CS Fred Matiang'i in this September 27, 2022 picture. [PSCU, Standard]

In various TV interviews, Ruto maintained although a sitting deputy president, he was rendered jobless and Matiangí given his responsibilities.

But Matiang’i who started in the ICT docket before he was moved to education and later interior hit back at Ruto calling him a liar.

In a hard-hitting statement, Matiang'i asked Ruto to state which job he had taken away from him.

Matiang'i said the President only gave him the responsibility of coordinating government projects, which he has done perfectly for the last three years.

“Those complaining let them explain what job I took from them. I am suffering restraint for ethics of conduct and collective responsibility, however, this political hypocrisy should be stopped…” Matiang’i said.

Matiangi maintained that as a CS he was dedicated to the directives given by the President, then Uhuru Kenyatta.

In 2021, Matiangi found himself on the receiving end after the security of Ruto was allegedly removed. As Ruto’s allies sought answers over the issue, Matiang'i appeared before members of parliament and said of all Kenya's holders of the number two job, Ruto had the biggest security detail dedicated to him at 257 officers.

“We are not jokers, there was no withdrawal, but a rearrangement of the security by the Inspector-General of Police. The decision was not whimsical because many considerations were made,” he said.

Matiang'i questioned why queries came up when the changes were made to Ruto's security detail, saying it was not the first time such changes were being made.

He said the changes were being politicised for political sympathy in favour of Ruto.

He later went on to list all the properties that Ruto owned and the number of security personnel attached to them, a move that saw a section of MPs threaten his impeachment.

During the 2022 presidential debate, Ruto claimed that police reservists in the troubled Kerio Valley were withdrawn to punish him.

But Matiangí hit back saying, “There has never been security withdrawal of police anywhere. This is just petty politics. Some people have mastered lying and has become their career. The only truth about themselves is their name.”

Ruto hit back saying Matiang’i had become dishonest to himself.

He said, although Uhuru had assigned them responsibilities, it did not mean they had to lie and demean others.

He further accused the CS of hatching a plan to deny him victory in the August 9 election.

An agitated Matiang’i responded dismissing the claims.

“We are only delivering that which we are supposed to. Some people now need to be licensed for telling lies and poisoning Kenyans. You cannot be a sitting deputy president presiding over functions and then say someone is punishing you,” he said.

Matiang’i said in fact it was laughable that a person who relied so much on lies was seeking a public office.

Matiang'i further dismissed claims that some Cabinet Secretaries were out to rig the August 9, General Election.

The CS said those who are complaining should admit they are in panic mode and trying to find ways to seek sympathy votes.

“It is this usual hypocrisy and pretence in our political environment. In 2017, I was on the campaign trail with all of them. So, did I become a CS in 2022, [and not in 2017]? They did not raise the issues when we were campaigning with them,” said Matiang’i.

He added, “I was with some of those who are raising issues now. I hit the campaign trail with them, and even addressed roadside gatherings, including here in Kenyenya Market. I attended meetings with them in South Mugirango, Gesima. The internet does not forget. Go and look for videos of rallies that I attended with them.”

Matiang’i said now because the CSs are not with them, they are deemed to be breaking the law.

While maintaining that the CSs have a right to give their views on politics which should not be construed to mean they are out to interfere with the polls, he said the government is ready to back up the IEBC in whichever way they’ll need.

JOE MUCHERU

The ICT Cabinet Secretary had also on various occasions been in bad books with the future president.

As we drew closer to the general election, Ruto allies hit at Mucheru accusing him of being among those who were planning to scuttle the process.

The said Mucheru as the man in charge of connectivity, was planning in partnership with other players to shut down the internet.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, Interior CS Fred Matiang'i, President William Ruto and ICT CS Joe Mucheru at State House for a cabinet meeting. [PSCU, Stanadard]

But Mucheru hit back saying it was hypocritical for a sitting deputy president with all the state machinery and resources to make such claims.

“Those complaining have seen the numbers are not so good and therefore looking for excuses. Why are they even putting so much effort in non-issues? My endorsement of a certain candidate has nothing to do with the election outcome,” he said.

Mucheru further tore into Ruto’s economic model and the wheelbarrow gospel terming it an outdated solution.

“I am a student of economics and I do not see how the successful economic uplifting of our people can be carried on with outdated solutions,” he said.

He also took a swipe at his critics, saying it is time that politicians focused on ethnicity, positions, power, and law changes, have the economic debate.

However, Mucheru  said, “some of these far-fetched economic fantasies are anchored on falsehoods sprinkled with proclamations of sanctity by leaders who should know better.”

The CS called out the church which he said has been silenced by massive donations from politicians, who have then been gifted with the pulpit to preach the gospel of division.

“These Bible-waving politicians have especially targeted the youth because they think – wrongly – that youth are gullible and easy to manipulate,” he said.

PETER MUNYA

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya is one of former president Uhuru Kenyatta’s cabinet ministers who openly campaigned for Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga.

Odinga was Ruto’s main challenger in the August 9, General Election.

While holding rallies, Munya often called out Ruto accusing him of neglecting his mandate as Deputy during Jubilee Party’s second term in office.

"If you [referring to Ruto] are unable to do your job, then President Uhuru needed to look for other ways so that the work is done. You started holding rallies from the first day after election," said Munya during one of the rallies.

Devolution CS Peter Munya with President William Ruto at State House. [PSCU, Standard]

“We need to get more serious, don't look for work you do not want to do because Kenyans are watching and that is why they will elect Raila Odinga come August 9, General Election,” he added.

Additionally, Munya said the Jubilee administration had accomplished more in its second term compared to its first term when Ruto said he participated actively in government.

"Most of the work was done during Uhuru's second term in government, the first term was marred with corruption," Munya said.

Comparing his tenure as Agriculture minister and that of Ruto in the same docket from 2008 to 2010, Munya argued that he had outperformed the future president.

"Even Ruto was once the Agriculture CS but he did not create the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) yet he is roaming around every day," Munya said.

In one of his rallies, Munya confronted a crowd that heckled him after he started talking about Ruto’s shortcomings.

“You say that I should leave him [Ruto] alone, is he your father? If you want to attend his rally, then leave. You are well aware that I am not supporting him [for the presidency], why did you attend this meeting,” he posed.

KERIAKO TOBIKO

Two years before the August 2022 General Election, Environment CS Keriako Tobiko criticised Ruto for campaigning and neglecting his role as the Deputy President.

Tobiko challenged Ruto to shelve his campaign and instead help former President Uhuru serve the nation.

“The office of the President is still not vacant, we still have two years away to 2022, why are people hosting delegation at Karen,” he said.

Attorney General Paul Kihara and former Environment CS Keriako Tobiko arrive at State House for a cabinet meeting. Later Ruto named his own Cabinet. [PSCU, Standard]

During another event, Tobiko referred to Ruto as a clerk who was not fit to lead the country.

“Ruto is a mere clerk for the President just like we are cabinet secretaries. The only difference between him and us is that he has no respect for the President,” Tobiko said.

“I stand by my position, and the sentiments expressed during the Maa declaration recently that Ruto is not fit to be President and if he becomes President, he will mortgage this country.”

At the time, Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, who is a close ally of Ruto, suggested that the CS would only have made such sentiments blessings from former president Uhuru.

"Without the blessings of the President [Uhuru], these CS' would never have insulted Ruto. Ruto is not anyone’s clerk, he was jointly elected with the President and without him, Uhuru would not be President," Murkomen stated.

EUGENE WAMALWA

Defence Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa hit out at Ruto over remarks he made at the UDA National Delegates Conference (NDC).

Wamalwa accused Ruto of undermining President Uhuru Kenyatta and his projects.

Former Defence CS Eugene Wamala and his former Transport counterpart James Macharia. 

The CS, seemingly unamused by Ruto’s speech, said the deputy president cannot openly defy the president, while still holding office in the same government.

Wamalwa went ahead to claim that Ruto almost slapped him in 2018.

Speaking during an Azimio la Umoja - One Kenya coalition rally at Bukhungu stadium in Kakamega, Wamalwa stated that the DP nearly slapped him for leading a delegation from Western Kenya to Statehouse without informing him.

But Ruto responded with a devastating repartee.

Deputy President William Ruto dismissed him thus: “I heard a certain guy claiming that I wanted to slap him. Where I come from, we don’t slap women. Please, let him know that".