DP William Ruto

Deputy President William Ruto. 

| File | Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

DP Ruto caught between a rock and a hard place

What you need to know:

  • Does he promote the PDR-UDA party, which would mean launching a full-scale rebellion on President Kenyatta?
  • Or does he lie low and wait it out at Jubilee which does not want him?

Deputy President William Ruto is a man caught up between the crosshairs of his responsibility as the president’s assistant and his ambition to take over from his boss after the 2022 elections.

It’s a road with two paths and Mr Ruto has to decide; does he promote the PDR-UDA party, which would mean launching a full-scale rebellion on President Kenyatta and risk it all with an eye on 2022 or does he lie low and wait it out at Jubilee which does not want him?

The dilemma he is facing was amplified yesterday when his supporters and allies wrote letters to Jubilee secretary-general Raphael Tuju resigning from the party and vowing to join the yet-to be ratified wheelbarrow party, the United Democratic Alliance.

“I wish to invoke Section 14 of the Political Parties Act and tender my resignation as the golden member of the Jubilee Party,” read a letter seen by the Nation written by Peter Kamau AKA the Don. A call to him confirmed the letter was genuine.

Leaders allied to the DP also posted the new party colours and the wheelbarrow symbols on their social media accounts throughout the day yesterday.

Former Machakos Senator Johnson Muthama, a Ruto ally, yesterday said UDA will guarantee the unity of all Kenyans.

“We will open doors to everybody who wants to enjoy and feel democracy is existing. But wait until January 7 for other details,” said Mr Muthama.

However, the DP’s office yesterday dismissed claims that the second in command is set to abandon the Jubilee Party and be the leader of UDA. “I do not know anything about the new party.

What I know is that William Ruto is the Deputy President and deputy party leader of the Jubilee Party,” said Director of Communication Emmanuel Tallam.

Right time to jump ship

MPs allied to his party also insisted that they are still in Jubilee until it is the right time to jump ship.

“We are still members of Jubilee until we are not,” said Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua.

Belgut MP Nelson Koech, another ally of the DP, disclosed that leaving the party will be an option in case the party’s National Delegates Convention (NDC) will fail to address their pertinent issues.

But Mr Ruto and his allies cannot jump ship now. If they defect or openly support a different party, they will face by-elections, which many of them are not ready for.

However, since PDR is a member of the Jubilee coalition, they may not be sanctioned for associating with it as the Political Parties Act provides for such cooperation. 

However, failure to provide a direction to supporters wary of the fights in Jubilee and yearning for direction may also brew sentiments against the DP and portray him as a coward who cannot stand up to his detractors.

“We cannot tell our people to just sit and wait as we see the ship sinking and we are not thinking of alternatives. They will think we are fools,” added Mr Gachagua. 

Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa, another ally of the DP, said it was inevitable, that DP allies start looking for a new home as their supporters do not want to associate themselves with the Handshake, BBI and are not welcome in Jubilee.

“UDA is our hustlers’ party. We have spent a lot of resources as members of Jubilee to build this Party. We contribute Sh20,000 on a monthly basis to support the operations of Jubilee. If they do not want us in this party, we are ready to leave but we will not leave it the way it is. We will bring it down in less than 14 days before we leave,” the Kimilili MP added.

Mr Ruto and his allies see no path to the presidency through Jubilee.

Writing on the wall

Though the writing has been on the wall for sometime, the purge on Dr Ruto’s allies in Parliament in May that led to the removal of Elgeyo-Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen and Garissa Town MP Adan Duale as National Assembly and Senate majority leaders, respectively, and Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindi as deputy speaker exacerbated the siege mentality.

Dr Ruto’s allies were also kicked out of the party’s leadership in April when Mr Tuju appointed Lucy Nyawira Macharia, Marete Marungu, Walter Nyambati, Jane Nampaso, and James Waweru to replace Fatuma Shukri, Pamela Mutu, and Veronica Maina at the party's NMC.

With no control of Jubilee party, it means he cannot enter into any coalition using Jubilee, field candidates in by-elections to gauge his strength or use the party to project power.

The DP has alluded to that in an earlier outburst when he said that there are plans by certain forces led by the party's vice-chairman, Mr David Murathe, to bar the party from having a presidential candidate in the 2022 General Election.

Failure to field candidates in by-elections has particularly irked Mr Ruto as he felt that he would have used that strategy to gauge his political strength ahead of the 2022 elections. 

But the goings-on at Jubilee are not just irking Dr Ruto’s supporters, but other Jubilee party members who are not allied to the Deputy President.

“We have a problem in Jubilee. There are more members outside the party than there are inside. The party leadership led by the secretary general should wake up and smell the coffee. It is time to accommodate everyone,” said Nairobi senator Johnson Sakaja.

However, allies of President Uhuru Kenyatta said the DP and his diehards had left the ruling party long ago and unveiling of the UDA is a clear indication that they are fed up with Jubilee.

“They walked out of the Jubilee Party a while back and they are just in associating with it because leaving officially would cost them their positions,” said Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu.

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