Ruto: Man in the eye of a storm

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AfricaPress-Kenya: Deputy President William Ruto was yesterday putting up a show of bravery after a week-long heavy shelling by his own boss, President Uhuru Kenyatta.

And a day after President Kenyatta dared him to quit and pursue his ambitions outside the government, the Sunday Standard has learnt of plans to drastically cut Treasury allocation to the DP’s office.

DP’s office has no budgetary vote of its own and is funded from the allocation for the Office of the Presidency which is controlled from State House and the Harambee House Office of the President.

A State House source who spoke in confidence said it will no longer “be tenable that the Deputy President gets funding from the same government he is fighting.”

The officials are keen to implement the President’s broadside against those fighting the government from within.

Last year, the DP was blocked from using a government building in Mombasa and has been operating from hotels when on political excursions in the region.

But State operatives have been uncomfortable that the DP has been using a government facility in the Karen suburb to pursue a political agenda “different” from that of his boss, the President.

The Karen home is a fully-fledged State utility built and maintained by the government.

On Friday, President Kenyatta said it was dishonest and double-speak that the DP be in the same government “he is fighting”.

In the week of bare-knuckles, on Wednesday Uhuru said he won’t hand over power to a “thief”. He didn’t direct it to any individual or political grouping.

That was only a day after the DP attended a burial in the President’s Gatundu backyard where the President’s condolences message was read by Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya. Not amused, the DP claimed that President Kenyatta shouldn’t “be seen as property of the Mount Kenya region alone but the whole country.”

Indeed, a section of the crowd had jeered when CS Munya rose to read the president’s eulogy.

Speaking to the Sunday Standard, Gatundu North MP Wanjiku Kibe in whose constituency the burial took place, was categorical that youth who heckled the CS had been ferried to the venue by an MP from a neighbouring constituency.

She said: “The hecklers came in a hired bus. It is the same group that had been transported to the burial of musician Salim Junior in Nakuru the previous week. The MP has made it his specialisation to ferry goons to funerals for political mileage. That is how low and desperate he and his paymaster have descended.”

Earlier, DP supporters publicly raised concern that Ruto wasn’t being accorded personal security deserved of “a person of his stature”.

They went ahead to make a peculiar request that the US government and the UN intervene in the matter.

In a swift rejoinder, police spokesman Charles Owino went out of his way to give operational details of the DP security, something unusual in police protocol. He disclosed that the DP has three-layered round-the-clock security provided by the G-company, the elite Recee squad and the presidential escort guard.

Political analyst and cabinet minister in President Moi’s administration, Dr Amukowa Anangwe, says “whatever brave face the DP may put, inwardly he must be a tortured man. Those of us who have been there can tell you what it is to be at the centre of power then suddenly be pushed to the periphery.”

He says though the Constitution doesn’t allow the President to sack his deputy, the DP knows he is as good as fired and only the No.2 in title.

“Power is in the substance not mere titles,” says former the cabinet minister now a political science lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam.

Dr Anangwe says the other major reason for the DP to feel a caged man is access to resources.

“The DP may have deep pockets but even deep pockets need replenishing. Access to resources goes hand in hand with access to power and absence of the later means scarcity in resources,” he says.

Insiders say the main reason the DP has been reluctant to launch a fully pledged No campaign on the expected BBI referendum vote is because he doesn’t want to exhaust his resources while there is an election next year.

A source privy to negotiations preceding Uhuru and Ruto alliance in 2013 was agreement on access to resources. During the negotiations held at the Muthaiga residence of businessman Jimmy Wanjigi, the DP agreed to come on board on assurance that he would be allocated plum ministries.

President Kenyatta kept the bargain on ascending to power and the three ministries were handed to DP appointees – Henry Rotich, Felix Kosgei, and David Chirchir.

Significantly, Mr Rotich had to be dropped after he was arraigned in connection with Arror and Kimwarer dam scandal, while Mr Kosgei and Mr Chirchir had to step down after being mentioned in corruption-related matters.

Another of the DP allies, Mr Mwangi Kiunjuri, who was appointed as Agriculture CS, was sacked early last year without explanation.

Before the changes, Jubilee vice chair David Murathe first publicly stated that there was no 10/10 deal between the president and his deputy.

Murathe also waged a campaign against the DP, vowing that he would ensure he does not succeed the president.

The events of last week, where the President has publicly reiterated Murathe’s past claims, join the dots on the plans to cut the DP to size ahead of the 2022 elections.

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