DP Ruto’s new game plan in quest for presidency

Deputy President William Ruto. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • The targeted ministers are accused of “snitching” in order to be in the good books of President Uhuru Kenyatta in the face of a looming Cabinet reshuffle.
  • Ms Waruguru faults the DP for betraying the President by involving himself in early 2022 campaigns.

Mistrust and suspicion is ravaging Deputy President William Ruto’s camp as he seeks a team to champion his presidential campaign.

A source close to the DP, who requested anonymity in view of the circumstances, said only those who can be trusted will be in the ace team.

Months of a vicious onslaught on his foot soldiers have left Dr Ruto pulling out all the stops to control the flow of information from his camp. Two Cabinet secretaries, an MP from Mt Kenya and a senator from the Rift Valley, are suspected of leaking information to Dr Ruto’s rivals and the “deep state”.

The targeted ministers are accused of “snitching” in order to be in the good books of President Uhuru Kenyatta in the face of a looming Cabinet reshuffle.

But Laikipia Woman representative Cate Waruguru, who is one of the latest foot soldiers of the DP to cross over to the Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga-led ‘handshake’ side, said Dr Ruto only has himself to blame.

Ms Waruguru faults the DP for betraying the President by involving himself in early 2022 campaigns.

“The President said he will campaign for William Ruto in 2022. He said this even before we went for the election, that he will do his 10 years and hand over to Ruto for his 10 years. The bone of contention is the fact that Uhuru’s 10 years are not over but politics in this country has taken a totally different shape and angle,” Ms Waruguru said.


The Nation has learnt that while he cleans his house, only retaining loyalists, the DP also plans to place key allies in different sectors to bolster his State House bid.

However, one of his allies, Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi rejects the insinuation that the DP no longer listens to everyone and is running his own show.

"There is nothing like the DP working without advisers. Everyone around him has a role to play,” he told the Saturday Nation. “There is something I have been tasked to do, and things to do with media, more so social media, are left to Dennis Itumbi," said Mr Sudi.

Dr Ruto has lately adopted dealing directly with the “Hustler Nation”. He has been seen in viral social media posts eating githeri with his farm workers, mingling with ordinary people and even hugging children.

This is believed to be his plan to “touch base” with the voters rather than having a battery of elite strategists planning for 2022.

The social media posts have former State House Diaspora and Digital Communications director Dennis Itumbi all over them. Is he, then, listening to Mr Itumbi more?


"The DP has an independent mind,” said Mr Sudi, adding, “He does not lecture us on what to say in every event because all of us know what to say."

Keiyo South MP Daniel Rono said that they are exploring social media to reach to the youth who they anticipate will vote overwhelmingly for DP Ruto in 2022.

"What is being posted on Facebook, Twitter is what we have agreed on. It is not that there is someone special who is being listened to. We have to use social media because most youths are there, hence we have to listen to them," he said, adding that even though the DP has a pool of political advisers, he still has the final word. Mr Rono noted that Dr Ruto listens to “what we tell him” but sometimes “he may ask us to do something but turn it down when we feel that it is not good”.

The DP’s strategy appears to target the youth because they have a social media presence, and they are not bogged down by history and the struggle for democratic space that sometimes defines Kenyan politics.

Social media has taken the place of churches, to which the DP was a regular visitor before the Covid-19 related pandemic closure.

Until the coronavirus struck early in the year, the DP had made inroads into the religious constituency across the country, with his huge financial contributions to their causes.


Dr Ruto’s predicament is compounded by the fact that he has seemingly been cut off from government operations and is not a member of the Fred Matiang’i-led National Co-ordination Committee on Coronavirus Pandemic, which reports to President Kenyatta.

Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter and his Nakuru Town West counterpart Samuel Arama also weigh in on the flight from the DP’s team, saying that politics is dynamic and every leader is weighing where their present and future interests are catered for.

“Politicians must weigh options on their present and future interests. If you don’t represent present or future interests, what do you expect from politicians? They will run away from you and avoid you like a plague as it is happening to William Ruto,” Mr Keter said. “When you want to know my character, just look at my friends.” 

Mr Arama said that initially, “most leaders and Jubilee supporters thought that the President and his deputy were together.”

“When we realised that the President is not with him, that’s why people are running away,” Mr Arama says.

Former Sports CS Rashid Echesa, a Ruto ally, yesterday opened up on why some of the DP’s troops could be shying away from him.

“We are being silenced by the State and are living with chains round our necks. There is very little we can do and the DP can do nothing about it. We sympathise with him,” Mr Echesa told the Saturday Nation. “We don’t really understand what is happening because we fought for this government to be in place but it has turned against us. It has caught us by surprise and we are still in shock but are just watching from a distance and believing in God. A time comes when you just keep silent, watch how things unfold and leave it all to God,” added Mr Echesa.

Amani National Congress was lately said to be mulling an agreement with the Tangatanga team. However, last week, deputy party leader Ayub Savula refuted the allegations and said the party had resolved to work with President Kenyatta. “We decided to throw our weight behind the President and dissociate with Ruto because we don’t want to interfere with the President’s development agenda,” Mr Savula.


In Nyanza, Mr Odinga’s turf, DP Ruto’s supporters have not come out openly for fear of facing a political backlash.

In Gusii region, some of his key allies have also developed cold feet and have in the past few months gone silent in what some locals say is a tactical move to re-align themselves politically ahead of 2022.

But even as he plays the lone ranger, the DP has also tried approaching political influencers like Prof Makau Mutua to craft his message as the country prepares for Building Bridges Initiative report and the subsequent referendum campaigns.

Prof Mutua made the revelations in his weekly column last Sunday, in which he said he had rejected the DP’s overtures.

“I was dumbfounded – and totally beside myself. I slapped myself to make sure I wasn’t in la-la land, or in mental Siberia,” Prof Mutua said of the approach from Ruto’s camp. “Mr Ruto and his brigand can take this to the nearest bank – no bona fide civil society organisation, or any of their self-respecting members, will touch Mr Ruto with a 10-foot pole. None. Whenever I hear the mention of Mr Ruto, or sense his proximity, I head in the opposite direction. It’s been so since his emergence in Youth for Kanu ’92.”

Dr Ruto is also banking on the reopening of worship places to reignite his campaign for 2022 but the limited numbers allowed have slowed his progress to this end.

“We have to adopt another strategy, including crisscrossing the country the way Cabinet secretaries are doing,” said Mr Rono, warning that they may be forced to break some of the Covid-19 protocols the way those allied to the President are doing.

By Ibrahim Oruko, Justus Ochieng and Onyango K'onyango.