President Ruto’s doublespeak on opposition

President William Ruto together with Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and Jubilee MPs at State House

President William Ruto together with Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua at State House, Nairobi, after a meeting with MPs from the Jubilee party led by Nominated MP Sabina Chege and EALA MP Kanini Kega on January 26, 2023.

Photo credit: PCS

President William Ruto’s move to woo Jubilee Party MPs as he seeks an absolute majority in Parliament has exposed his doublespeak in regard to his calls for a vibrant opposition.

Kenya Kwanza has gone on a charm offensive against former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee MPs in a move that could further destabilise Raila Odinga’s Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition.

This is even as the Head of State whips his troops in Parliament to support the establishment of the Office of the Official Leader of Opposition.

Two days after meeting Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua at his office, Jubilee leaders – nominated MP Sabina Chege, director of elections and East African Legislative Assembly MP Kanini Kega, MPs David Kiaraho (Ol Kalou), Irene Njoki (Bahati), Zachary Kwenya (Kinangop), Shadrack Mwiti (South Imenti), Mark Mwenje (Embakasi West), Amos Mwago (Starehe), Dan Karitho (Igembe Central), Stanley Muthama (Lamu West) and Joseph Githuku (Lamu) – on Monday also met President Ruto at State House, Nairobi. The leaders agreed to support the government’s agenda both within and without Parliament.

Opposition leader 

And recently during a joint media interview, President Ruto said his push for the creation of the office of the Opposition Leader would be to the benefit of Kenyans who elected him as the Head of State.

“I am looking for an office which will ensure that there is accountability of the government. If I was selfish, why would I care for someone who opposes me? I understand that in a democratic country, people controlled by power are very easy, therefore, there is a need for a vibrant opposition,” said the President.

“Even for my Cabinet secretaries, I have proposed that Standing Orders be amended so that they can respond to various questions. Through that, Parliament will ensure that those Cabinet secretaries are accountable in their ministries for the benefit of Kenyans,” he explained.

But Prof Masibo Lumala of Moi University argued that apart from trying to cripple Azimio, the Head of State might also be out to clip his deputy in Mt Kenya.

“It could also be his way of clipping away Gachagua’s influence in Mt Kenya region or his way of demonstrating his readiness to unite the country regardless of who voted for him,” he said.

National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi yesterday said the scheme by the President will not interfere with their oversight role arguing that even if the ruling coalition eats into its numbers, what will keep their course alive is commitment.

“Let those politicians who are poached follow their conscience. Our checks and balances of the government will continue uninterrupted and it does not matter if eventually, we remain 50, 20, five or one. We will remain committed to the course and true to the oath of office we took,” he said.

Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua said they are not bothered by the strategy adopted by the President but they are determined to execute their oversight role.

“We shall hold the feet of those responsible for feeding Kenyans on fire until something gives; until the suffering of our people is minimised to acceptable levels,” Mr Wambua said.

But Kesses MP Julius Ruto said that Jubilee leaders meeting the Head of State is aimed at uniting the mountain for the sake of development and not to destabilise the opposition.