Jubilee Party Leader and former President Uhuru Kenyatta

Jubilee Party leader and retired President Uhuru Kenyatta during his party's National Delegates Conference at  Ngong Racecourse on May 22, 2023.

| Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

President Ruto faces a crisis like Uhuru in 2015

On September 21, 2015 when then President Uhuru Kenyatta left the country for New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly, he had a political standoff with his deputy William Ruto.

Dr Ruto had just snubbed Mr Kenyatta’s planned address to the nation at State House the previous day in protest over the fate of his allies — suspended Cabinet Secretaries Felix Koskei (Agriculture) and Davis Chirchir (Energy).

Mr Kenyatta had planned to reshuffle his Cabinet by appointing new CSs to replace ministers he had kicked out after the infamous list of shame in March that year.

The reshuffle never happened after Dr Ruto skipped the meeting, and instead chose to attend a church service in Karen and later held a meeting at his residence. He would, however, later show up at the State House at 8pm when the President addressed the nation over a teachers’ strike.

Mr Kenyatta would later pluck Charles Keter from the Senate to lead the Energy docket in December same year amid reports of protest by Dr Ruto.

Just like Mr Kenyatta, who was abroad with other world leaders but was bothered by the political standoff back home, President Ruto is currently attending the ongoing United Nations General Assembly in New York amid growing pressure for him to crack the whip to contain infighting in his administration.

His close allies in Parliament yesterday continued to pile pressure on him to reshuffle his Cabinet immediately he jets back to the country amid an ugly spat between Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria.

And in yet another dig at Mr Gachagua, Mr Kuria on Thursday said every Kenyan, irrespective of where they are, plays a role in development of the country and is therefore a shareholder. It was in reference to Mr Gachagua’s controversial statement that only regions that voted for Kenya Kwanza would benefit in appointments under the current administration.

“Gachagua and Kuria are basically fighting over who should be listened to more by the region. The local Mt Kenya political dynamics are playing out. There would be some casualties of course, but how that would come about is not clear yet,” said History and International Relations professor, Macharia Munene.

But yesterday while attending the burial of Mau Mau war hero Muthoni wa Kirima in Nyeri, Mr Gachagua and Mr Kuria had kind words for each other, dismissing any talk of their disagreements.

Mr Gachagua yesterday said the push to have Mr Kuria sacked from government was choreographed by some leaders seeking to divide the region’s leaders.

“I am the Deputy President and Kuria is our worker. Can a worker fight with his boss? I want to say that Moses Kuria is our son. I have heard some people say that he should be sacked. Where to and for what reason? Kuria talked and I realised that he had gone astray a little. As a father of this region, I told him to go slow and that is my job,” he said.

Mr Kuria had earlier told the crowd: “I take this opportunity to welcome my boss and the leader of Mt Kenya region Rigathi Gachagua to come and address you.”

Some of the lawmakers allied to the ruling alliance told Saturday Nation that some of President Ruto’s ministers were engaging in political jostling at the expense of service delivery.  “This government has been in office for a year and the President can now tell among his members of the Cabinet, who is capable of delivering on his agenda. It is high time the President reshuffled his Cabinet,” said EALA MP Kanini Kega.

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei, a close ally of the President, also called for sacking of non-performing ministers. “When he comes back, he should call his ministers to order because some of them have become politicians,” said Mr Cherargei.

National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah recently warned ministers that he would not use his position in Parliament to defend non-performers.

Apart from the power struggle between Mr Gachagua and CS Kuria, there is yet another simmering supremacy battle between Mr Gachagua and Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro in the populous Mt Kenya.

A majority of Mt Kenya region senior politicians – including Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki – are perceived to be leaning towards President Ruto. There is no love lost between Prof Kindiki and Mr Gachagua following the fallout occasioned during the picking of Dr Ruto’s running mate. Prof Kindiki was the favourite of a majority of Mt Kenya lawmakers, but President Ruto went for Mr Gachagua.

Reporting by Moses Nyamori, Mwangi Muiruri and James Murimi