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Inside William Ruto's two faces in his battle to occupy State House

Deputy President William Ruto when he delivered a speech at Chatham House in London. [Standard]

In an address to London’s Chatham House think tank in March, Deputy President William Ruto said Kenya’s August General Election will be contested on three issues: Those who stand with 2010 Constitution and those who want to “overthrow it”, those who believe in separation of institutions of government and the opposition; and those with the best economic model to empower majority Kenyans.

In all three issues the Deputy President and UDA leader has done the opposite of what he said.

In London, he said he is in the team that believes in sanctity of the 2010 Constitution. He described it as a robust document that shouldn’t be tempered with. To the contrary, he claimed, his competitors – read Raila Odinga and Martha Karua – want to shred the Constitution.

That is opposite of what is on record. It is Raila who led the campaign to have what was known as the Naivasha Draft passed in a referendum to become what is today the 2010 Constitution. With then President Mwai Kibaki, they mobilised an overwhelming 68.6 per cent vote approval for the new Constitution. Karua as the minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, knocked down every barrier to make 2010 Constitution a reality.

To the contrary, it is William Ruto who burnt the midnight oil to ensure the 2010 Constitution didn’t see light of the day.

He led the No-campaign that lost at the referendum. Speaking in Turbo, Eldoret, on April 11, 2010 Ruto had said: “Now that everybody knows that I am the leader of “No” campaign, people will want to know if I will change my stand. But I will campaign against the draft even if it means going it alone. The outcome of the referendum will determine who between me and Raila is popular.”

On separation between government and the opposition, the DP told Chatham House that there should be a clear divide between the two.

Opposition leader

He said today, the President of Kenya supports the opposition and the opposition leader is in government. That could be true. But look who is talking: Ruto is the Deputy President of Kenya. But even a child in the streets knows he is the de-facto Leader of the Opposition. Talk of the pot calling the kettle black!

On the economic model that takes care of the majority, the DP told Chatham gathering that he has something called “bottom-up” but whose manner of delivery he didn’t elaborate. Locally, he has demonstrated it in dishing out cash hand-outs and wheelbarrows.  

But the same DP was opposed to the BBI which wanted more money to reach the common man through increased allocation to the counties, creation of ward fund and a seven-year tax-holiday for school-leavers going into business. Besides that, the BBI proposed friendly loans and creation of Saccos to enable mama mbogas, boda boda riders and mkokoteni people graduate to the next level. In Mt Kenya region where the DP has “poured so much cash-hand-outs” and his running-mate Rigathi Gachagua want that given a “boaster” of “sahani ya mchele na nyama”, the BBI wanted more constituencies so that there is more CDF money to go into bursaries, dispensaries and better roads in the villages.

Lastly, the DP told Chatham House that he was opposed to BBI because it was about sharing of political power by ethnic and regional kingpins. But that is precisely what he did when crafting the Kenya-Kwanza coalition which he hopes will take him to State House.

Regional kingpins

He gave the running-mate slot to Mt Kenya region in the person of his alter-ego Gachagua. He targeted Western Kenya by creating Chief Minister’s slot for Musalia Mudavadi and dangling Speaker of the National Assembly carrot to Moses Wetangula. In Ukambani and at the Coast, he threw the bait to Alfred Mutua and Amason Kingi, respectively.

At home the DP has also been saying different things from different sides of his mouth depending on the audience. He has identified with, and claimed full credit of the successes of the government he is in but distanced himself from its failures!

Last month in response to Interior PS Karanja Kibicho remark that government has intelligence Azimio will win at the first round and with over 60 per cent vote, the DP refuted it claiming that as the No Two in the country and a member of the National Security Council, he has intelligence that it his Kenya-Kwanza coalition that is ahead by nine points.

But on Thursday, he said in an interview with KTN that he was stopped from attending National Security Council meetings three years ago. So which “security council” gave him “intelligence” that he is winning?

Speaking about the two faces of the DP last week, Interior CS Fred Matiang’i said the “DP is government in the morning and opposition in the afternoon!” He said the DP has all-weather coat mentality where he puts on the coat when it is rainy and dumps it when sunny.

Novella and play

Matiang’i who has a PhD in English Literature recommended to anybody who wants to understand the DP better to read a novella and play by English writer Robert Stevenson titled: The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hade. If you can’t get a copy, I can lend you mine but promise to return it back.

But one area the DP has been consistent at is not wishing to be drawn into discussion on matters corruption. Speaking on Citizen TV on April 9, 2019, he said it was Sh7 billion not 21 billion that was “lost” in the Arror/Kimwarer scandal. In the same interview, he said he didn’t think corruption can stop a leader from delivering. Ngai baba!

And recently, the DP has come up with a new campaign line he calls “state capture”. But figure out this: The DP is on record publicly admitting ownership of Weston Hotel on Langata Road. But there is on-going ligation how the State land on which the hotel is built changed to private ownership. Can there be better definition of State capture!

Postscript: In the years 1035 to 1066, William the Second, was the Duke of Normandy, a province in northern France. Because of his vicious fights with opposition to his grip on power, he was nicknamed William the Conqueror. He was eloquent with a convincing tongue, and knew what to tell which audience. He was also “pious and spiritual” and generously donated cash and kind to the Church of Normandy.

He was also cunning. He negotiated with Edward the King of England that he makes him the heir to his Kingdom to ensure lasting peace between France and England. To seal the “deal” he even arranged a marriage between their two families.

It enabled him become William the First King of England. That achieved, his first pre-occupation was to politically and financially cripple those who had helped him become King of England as well as the citizens of England so that they would never be challenge to him in future.

At that point the people of England who he had deceived and made him their King realised their mistake but too late. All they could do was to change his nickname from William 2 the Conqueror/populist, to William I, the Bastard/villain. End of the story.