DP Ruto: Get off Gachagua, he is the strongest of you all

William Ruto

Deputy President William Ruto and his running mate Rigathi Gachagua acknowledge greetings from wananchi at Karatina town during a Kenya Kwanza campaign rally on May 21, 2022. 

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

Kenya Kwanza alliance presidential aspirant Dr William Ruto has defended his embattled running mate Rigathi Gachagua as “the strongest of all the five who contested the position”.

The politicians who had been shortlisted were Tharaka Nithi Senator Prof Kithure Kindiki, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi, Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru, Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro and Kandara’s Alice Wahome.

Dr Ruto’s remarks come as some Kenya Kwanza principals have dismissed Mr Gachagua as divisive, dictatorial, abrasive and arrogant, and the Deputy President is trying to do damage control.

On Monday, two days after Chama Cha Kazi’s Moses Kuria and Tujibebe Wakenya’s William Kabogo — and a day after The Service Party’s Mwangi Kiunjuri — complained that Mr Gachagua was pushing affiliate aspirants to the wall, Dr Ruto called their bluff.

“When I settled on him as my running mate, he was being opposed on grounds that he is very strong … that I needed someone who was soft and lowly placed in stature ... But I insisted that I needed that strong person and highly placed …,” said Dr Ruto in Njoro, Nakuru.

He dismissed critics of Mr Gachagua as “suffering from [an] inferiority complex, who once they see another person going up the ladder of influence, they start fearing him … I am not like that. I seek that we succeed together and we can only collectively succeed together if we unite to deliver on our mission”. 

In the strongest hint so far that Dr Ruto is not willing to negotiate on Mr Gachagua and the status of the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) in the Mt Kenya region, Dr Ruto said he is only interested in working with bold people and those with a solid stand on issues.

Mr Gachagua has exposed himself to criticism by insisting that “a party that is seeking … national status and contesting all seats on the August 9 ballot will only campaign for its candidates in Mt Kenya”.

But Mr Kuria, Mr Kabogo and Mr Kiunjuri have argued that this formula appears to apply only in Mt Kenya, and that in the Western and Coast regions Dr Ruto and UDA are backing down to embrace Amani National Congress (ANC), Ford-Kenya and the Pamoja African Alliance (PAA) led by Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi.

With his body language and tone of voice, complete with his trademark biting of the lower lip when addressing a crisis, Dr Ruto made it clear that he is “for those with a stand to the cause”.

Dr Ruto appears to be basing his formula for winning on amassing the highest possible numbers in the mighty vote baskets of Mt Kenya and the Rift Valley before venturing out to compete with Mr Raila Odinga of the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition.

With Mr Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta fighting back by unleashing Martha Karua as the Azimio running mate and Baringo Senator Gideon Moi in the Rift Valley to fight the scheme, Dr Ruto appears to be responding by insisting that UDA should stage resistance on its own. 

This is the second time in a week that Dr Ruto publicly fought for Mr Gachagua, having described him in an NTV interview on June 12 as “a passionate leader, a people's person who speaks my language about the ordinary Kenyans ... he believes in the people [and the] bottom-up economic model like me. That is why I settled on him".

About claims that he favoured Mr Gachagua against more ideal candidates, Dr Ruto said that “those are stories ... I had five people I was looking at ... I consulted with friends, party members, stakeholders ... I took time to consult and the outright winner was Gachagua. All the others are wonderful people, great ... only that the chance was one at one time and it was him”.

He said there were many elements at play in picking the running mate, including gender, age groups and interests, “but at the end of the day we collectively settled on him”.

Dr Ruto summed Mr Gachagua as “a solid gentleman, accomplished public servant, self-made person with a passion for people's issues. He will help us deal with the challenge that we have in the country about the deficiency of people passionate [about the needs of] ordinary people”.

This came as a confidential source in the Kenya Kwanza secretariat confided to Nation.Africa that Mr Gachagua is being managed by a team of public speech consultants to polish him on some dos and don’ts.

“You got to be fair to Gachagua … We are handling him and he is responding well to political treatment … he is on speech medication and is out of danger now,” the source said.

“A first-time MP thrown to the deep end of national politics ordinarily is bound to factory reset him and subject him to goofing. But beneath that teething problem is a political animal ideal for our cause and given another chance to pick a running mate, we would go for him, that is not in doubt.”

Among his recent major goofs are declaring that Mt Kenya voters only desire for the State Lodge in Sagana to be welcoming them for rice and meat dishes and that the National Police Service’s Persian blue uniform will be donated to the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) women’s guild league.

The source claimed that “Dr Ruto is not ready to be held at ransom by affiliate parties in Mt Kenya and will continue supporting UDA aspirants [with] whom he shares [the] same objectives, covenant with counties and holds his strength in seeking to assemble a ruling party”.

The source claimed that “all those complaining now were approached and given offers to serve in government if they agreed to step down from contesting, but said they were ready to compete with UDA”.

The source wondered why these people were now complaining after encountering the competition they opted for from UDA.

Mr Gachagua lamented on May 24 on Inooro FM that he was a victim of circumstances.

"I had led these people for four years and we were okay then ... we differed when this seat came up for grabs ...," he said.

He said they related like brothers and sisters "until, like is normal in families when there is a favour up for grabs, the time to pick a running mate presented itself".

Mr Gachagua admitted that the process drove a wedge among Mt Kenya leaders who appeared to favour Prof Kindiki, the Tharaka Nithi senator, who, of the 30 leaders present, garnered 24 votes. Mr Gachagua received five and Mr Muturi one vote (from Mr Kuria).

Prof Kindiki has since confirmed that he was the hot favourite to win the slot through popular endorsement by Mt Kenya leaders.

"But I want it to be very clear that I am contented with the outcome ... since when other considerations ideal for a running mate were tabled and articulated by our presidential aspirant, I saw the sense of Mr Gachagua being picked," he told Citizen TV on May 18.

Mr Gachagua said he is now busy uniting the leaders "and they have accepted me as their deputy team leader and the ultimate Mt Kenya team captain".

Mr Gachagua dismissed the perception that he is abrasive, crude and dictatorial, saying "what I know I have in abundance is a stand, commitment and a self-drive and I am ready to stick my neck out for Mt Kenya, UDA and Dr Ruto".

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