What you need to know:
- Dr Ruto's allies also asked President Kenyatta to prepare for retirement and unite the nation instead of raising political temperatures.
“If you’re unhappy, quit!” President Uhuru Kenyatta told his deputy William Ruto yesterday, as their souring relations continued to escalate.
A visibly angry Head of State accused Dr Ruto of disrespecting him and criticising the government they co-run, from within.
“You can’t say on the one hand that the government is bad, and on the other that ‘We work as a government. Which government? How many governments do you know in Kenya? Isn’t it one?” the tough-talking President told traders outside the Uthiru Hospital in Nairobi County, after commissioning it.
“Kama unataka uzuri wake, kaa nayo, na kama unataka ubaya wake, toka uache hawa wengine waendelee! (If you want the successes of this government, stay, but if you want to focus on the failures, leave and allow others to proceed),” he said. "But you can't insult people on one hand and take credit from the government successes on the other."
The DP has been pushing a strategy of eating his cake and having it too, which he hopes exonerates him from any failures of the Jubilee administration while criticising it as the race to replace his boss takes shape. He has been advancing a Hustler versus Dynasty narrative that he says seeks to focus of improving the informal sector — which serves 85 per cent of underprivileged Kenyans — as opposed to the long-held top-bottom development approach that favours “dynasties”.
Yesterday, President Kenyatta sought to debunk this narrative, terming it needless rhetoric.
“We're not up for rhetoric. We want to see unity and development; roads, agriculture, water and others projects must grow. For that reason, we need leaders who will ensure we get these developments other than those who advance backward and divisive politics balkanisation, saying you're this or that.
“Who benefits from the constant acts of pitting people against one another? You do it just because you have the ability and a sharp tongue (mdomo wa matusi)” the Head of State said.
The President thereafter addressed a crowd in Kikuyu town before heading to commission a water project in Dagoretti and later Mathare Level 2 Hospital in Kiamaiko.
By launching three development projects in a row and outlining others to be done soon, the President sought to debunk the narrative by his deputy that the current political setup disenfranchises the common citizens as it only served to benefit the haves. He also seek to reverse the gains that his estranged deputy has made among the so-called Hustler Nation, whose signature is a wheelbarrow.
But speaking in Kiambaa, Kiambu County yesterday, DP Ruto said the President needs to recall how he (Ruto) stood by him when they were both arraigned at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of crimes against humanity in the 2007/8 post-election violence to the end of their cases.
“Akufaaye kwa dhiki ndiye rafiki (A friend in need is a friend indeed),”Dr Ruto said in reference to his relationship with his boss.
He criticised ODM leader Raila Odinga, saying he was an opportunist waiting for endorsement to inherit Mr Kenyatta’s legacy while derailing the Jubilee agenda.
“Who between me and the ‘riddle man (mtu wa vitendawili)’ would you rather took the mantle to advance the Jubilee agenda?” he asked the cheering crowd.
Dr Ruto's allies also asked President Kenyatta to prepare for retirement and unite the nation instead of raising political temperatures.
Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, his Bomet counterpart Christopher Langat, Bomet Governor Hillary Barchok and Emurrua Dikirr MP Johanna Ng’eno asked President Kenyatta to stop sowing seeds of discord.
"We have respected you enough, it is your turn to respect us and stop pretending the projects the government has initiated are yours alone, as we helped you to achieve them," said Mr Murkomen in reference to President Kenyatta's call on Deputy President William Ruto to resign.
"When you hear a president talking like Uhuru is doing, then you know we have a serious problem and we are faced with a very dark moments indeed."
"Why is the President in a panic in his last two years in office? Why is he complaining all over?" Mr Murkomen posed. "Who is he competing with for retirement? Why is he speaking with so much anger?"
He called on President Kenyatta to borrow a leaf from former presidents Daniel Moi and Mwai Kibaki who handed over power without antagonising the people.
"If you are saying your deputy is campaigning, is it not the same thing you (Uhuru) were doing from 2010 to 2013 as a deputy prime minister and presidential candidate? Has it become painful now that it is someone else campaigning?
"We went around the country campaigning and holding prayers when President Kenyatta was faced with crimes against humanity in the ICC but President Kibaki did not say he would not hand over power to him. Where does he now get the legitimacy to attack his deputy?" Mr Murkomen added.
In Nairobi, at every stop he made, President Kenyatta rallied Kenyans to support the constitutional amendments envisage in the BBI if they were to see more devolved funds and development. He also pledged more projects while pleading with the masses to "walk” with him and ignore his detractors and “liars”.
"Don't listen to the opponents of BBI, who are not even giving alternative solutions," he said.
He said the BBI Bill is meant to bring all Kenyans together, including his deputy, if he changes his ways.
“If you want us to work together to build Kenya, we will, I have no problem. That’s why we are campaigning for BBI, which will bring all Kenyans on board,” he said.
The President seems to have finally decided to salvage his legacy, which has been a fodder for political attacks and counter-attacks between the DP and Mr Odinga. The DP has on several occasions told off the ODM leader for criticising the Jubilee government’s delivery of the 2017 election promises, saying the March 9, 2018 “handshake” with the President and the constitutional reforms drive were to blame for the unfulfilled pledges.
But Mr Odinga says he should not be blamed for the ruling party’s failures to deliver its promises to Kenyans.
“We are not part of Jubilee failures. Our working relationship with the President is about uniting Kenyans, but those in the ruling government should not shy away from blame,” Mr Odinga said recently in a Nairobi rally. “They’re forgetting about their promises and are now talking of mkokoteni, mama mboga and wheelbarrows. Where are the laptops they promised? Where are the roads and stadiums?”
When Dr Ruto held a rally in Dagoretti South constituency on January 24, he asked Mr Odinga to direct any queries on the Jubilee development scorecard to Mr Kenyatta.
“If you have a problem with Jubilee’s performance, call President Kenyatta or visit his office and tell him that you have a problem with Jubilee’s performance. Stop attacking the President in rallies,” the DP said.
Although fraught with numerous political land mines, the messaging is to deflect the responsibility for the unfulfilled promises from himself as he makes a stab at the presidency.
Pundits have argued that it is morally wrong for Dr Ruto to share the successes while criticising the failures, and that he should resign if he no longer believes in President Kenyatta’s rule.
That is what the President said yesterday.
Researcher and author Godfrey Sang says resigning would be detrimental to his presidential bid.
"His (DP's) current position offers him an obscured view of the happenings in government, which will add to his advantage as he makes his first stab at the Presidency," said Mr Sang. "Being a heartbeat away from the presidency, he still commands the respect and attention of being the second most powerful man in the land. If he resigns, he loses all that, and the political strength that comes with it."
In their first term, Dr Ruto launched and inspected government projects, issuing orders on the completion timelines but, eight years later, his focus now is on constituency projects of his allies following a political falling-out with President Kenyatta.
Additional reporting by Vitalis Kimutai