Straight-shooting, pointed in his charge and riding on chequered relationship with the president, Jubilee Vice chairman David Murathe is turning out to be the tormentor-in-chief for Deputy President William Ruto in his 2022 journey.
Murathe’s unrelenting volleys against the DP have not only taken a toll on the DP’s stature within Jubilee but have also pigeonholed him into a permanent defensive posture.
On Sunday, Ruto singled him out as among the men running him out of Jubilee. And yet, besides his inconstant Jubilee vice chair position, Murathe holds no position in government, and has not participated in elective politics since 2002.
On Tuesday night, Murathe took on the DP again in a Citizen TV interview, saying President Uhuru Kenyatta had long dropped him as his preferred successor, that the DP outrun himself ahead of his time, had grossly in-subordinated the president on party affairs and was out of favour with the Head of State’s men.
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“The corruption ‘consultants’, brokers and conmen, some bankrupt in 2013, are now billionaires after looting while scapegoating WsR. Their overgrown impunity is shamelessly making them steal even from the sick in a pandemic. The end is nigh. Nowhere to hide. No more scapegoating,” Ruto tweeted yesterday.
By the time he was tweeting, Ruto was hurting, after being disparaged by Murathe the night before. Speaking on authority of knowing the president for many years, Murathe said Ruto had long cooked his own goose.
“This guy has been in probation. He has been tested and all this time, they were trying to see if they can leave this country in his hands. Unfortunately, the jury is out there,” he said.
Murathe added: “This was a person who was assured of support of the President. He was asked to let the government deliver on the promises they made to the people and the president actually said he would personally campaign for him, but the guy was in such a hurry to inherit the presidency… “
Drawing from the 2002 experience when former President Daniel arap Moi refused to endorse his deputy, the late George Saitoti, Murathe said Kenyatta has a role in guiding the country appropriately.
In 2002, Moi dumped Saitoti for the then youthful Kenyatta saying he needed to hand over power to the younger generation. He told the country that Saitoti was his friend, but was not the kind of person he was looking for to lead the country after him.
Although Kenyatta was walloped by the combined might of the rainbow coalition, he later became President, in line with the wishes of Moi.
“We have come to appreciate, when you are the President you have an obligation to look around and to determine who the right person to come after you is. Because if you leave this country in wrong hands, future generations will always blame you,” Murathe said.
He also gave the analogy of a family saying a father knows the right child to take charge of a family when he is away.
“He knows the greedy child, the one who will sit on others, he knows who is the rational child… you have to have that responsibility as the head of state.”
But Ruto’s problem with Murathe is bigger because of the contradictions about him. His ambitions are fairly modest. He has never dreamed of running for president, has not participated in the last three general elections, and has no political clout of his own.
Yet, it is the seemingly formless enemies such as Murathe that are too lethal to face, and too slippery to handle.
“We are not interested in those seats, but we care who will come after this President. So we have to sit, discuss and scheme…we don’t know who will be President but we are working very hard to know who will not be President…” Murathe said.
According to Murathe, when the President goes home, he too, alongside the other President’s men will go home.
Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, also Ruto’s major political nemesis, says he is running for president in 2022.
“We are now looking at transitional arrangement to nurture new, young people to take over this country. We need that space and that is why I am calling on Kenyans to consider the former PM as transitional leader come 2022,” said Murathe.
Expanding the political space at the top is BBI’s main promise, and this pulls many political groupings to the music.
But it is Murathe’s political stand in relation to the President that makes it more difficult for the DP to know exactly how to handle him. For many years, the DP has not directly attacked Murathe fearing it would attract the ire of his boss.
While he is not the President’s spokesman, his long association with Uhuru has placed him in a position that his word cannot be wished away. And every little thing he has uttered has come to pass.
On Tuesday, he somewhat admitted that he speaks for the President: “Sometimes we have very fierce quarrels with the President, precisely because of that stereotyping by the media,” he said, adding: “We have studied this President. We know him, we know what he stands for. If you have been with someone for the longest time, then you know his mind.”
Murathe himself is equally unsure of how to handle the DP, other than hoping he will pressure him into quitting.
Before the latest onslaught, he had threatened to move to court to ensure the DP’s fate is tied to the President’s.
This threat as he resigned from his party post, only to emerge again, re-energised. It is Murathe’s comeback that has wreaked havoc on DP, whose men were hounded out of key offices.
“How do junior members of the party run him out of town? These are people who left Jubilee House and went to Jubilee Asili, and said that will be their operational centre…. They have said it in so many words,” Murathe said.
He accused the DP of gross insubordination, saying he had made it his business to contradict his boss, including on the referendum.
“When the party leader expresses himself on an issue; that is the party position. And if he does not like it, he should ship out. He says they speak a lot with the party leader, are these things to be canvassed in public, on national TV? Or he should be looking for the national leader to have this conversation. I think that is also gross insubordination,” he said.
Murathe says he does not know who the President supports for 2022. Yet he knows it is not Ruto. He also says Raila has never declared that he is running for presidency in 2022 but expresses his personal preference for him.
“We are the ones urging him (Raila) on… the president has never, and I don’t expect that he will say he is supporting so and so. He is a democrat and he will let the people decide,” he said.
He is however categorical that Ruto is the wrong man for the job, not just for him, but also for the “president’s men”. He believes the DP is baton-less race is in vain.
“I don’t think he is the right person to succeed Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta. And because of the way he has behaved when he is the DP, I shudder to think how he will behave when he is actual President.