What you need to know:
- Dr Ruto has the support of numerous MPs from the region who have defied pressure from the Kieleweke faction of the ruling party, which is opposed to his quest to succeed President Kenyatta.
- Dr Ruto declared that his top agenda ahead of 2022 is regaining control of Jubilee from Vice Chairman David Murathe and his team.
Deputy President William Ruto is considering picking his running mate from Mt Kenya, signalling that the region’s vote is crucial to his presidential bid in 2022.
With President Uhuru Kenyatta retiring, Dr Ruto is campaigning to inherit the vote rich region, but he is up against a wing of the Jubilee Party that is allied to the President, with whom he has fallen out.
Dr Ruto has the support of numerous MPs from the region who have defied pressure from the Kieleweke faction of the ruling party, which is opposed to his quest to succeed President Kenyatta.
The DP said the 2022 election will be a shocker for many who have for long sold the narrative that Mt Kenya does not vote for ‘outsiders,’ apparently referring to past overwhelming support in the region for the presidential candidacies of Mr Kenneth Matiba, Mr Mwai Kibaki and Mr Kenyatta.
“The Mt Kenya people are very wise and well aware of where we want Kenya to be. In 2002, some did not believe Nyanza would vote for Kibaki. In 2013, others said the Rift Valley would not support Uhuru but they voted him to the man,” DR Ruto said on Sunday night during an interview with Meru-based Weru TV.
“What I know is that the Mt Kenya region is ready to vote for another Kenyan. If they have not had a reason in the past, they now have a reason because they know me well,” the DP said. Dr Ruto sought to endear himself to the Mt Kenya electorate as a loyal supporter of President Kenyatta since his debut presidential race in 2002.
Next general election
“Those trying to lecture me on respecting the President have not supported Uhuru like I have. I have voted Uhuru four times. Many did not believe I could stand with President Uhuru but I have been with him through thick and thin,” he said. The DP said he resonates well with the electorate in the region because he was hard working.
While referring to his friendship with the President, Dr Ruto expressed confidence that the Head of State will rally the region to vote for him in the next general election.
He said he was open to working with Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi and Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya as well as other leaders from the region.
“In politics, there are no permanent enemies and friends. We can always find a middle ground. If Mr Munya joins the Jubilee Party and has interest in being a running mate, we can consider him. I did not support Munya for governor because he was not in the Jubilee Party. It was nothing personal,” he explained.
This, he added, is in line with his aspiration of having political parties that compete based on ideologies. Dr Ruto said he is also keen on having a running mate from Mt Kenya, as the area together with Rift Valley are believed to be Jubilee’s bedrock, as he works to court support from other parts of the country where the party enjoys little backing.
An individual’s national appeal and the number of votes likely to be brought to the table are among factors to influence his choice of running mate, he added.
Dr Ruto declared that his top agenda ahead of 2022 is regaining control of Jubilee from Vice Chairman David Murathe and his team. He claimed that Mr Murathe and others had hijacked the party, and turned its headquarters into private property.
“Soon, they will leave the party. Their conmanship will drive them out because some are already facing accusations of taking part in the Kemsa scandal. They are so inhuman as to steal from the sick. God has set them up,” Dr Ruto said referring to the allegations of fraud in procurement at the Kenya Medical Supply Authority (Kemsa).
“If we cannot remove Murathe and his team from the party, we will pray to God to remove them. They are the biggest threat to the unity of this country as well as entrenchment of politics of ideology,” he further claimed.
Dr Ruto said he will do everything in his power to save Jubilee arguing that reforming Kenyan politics will be his legacy.
“The biggest regret I will ever have as a politician is losing the Jubilee Party. The kind of emotional, political and financial investment we have put in building Jubilee is immense. A strong national party is the only insurance against politics of tribalism and conmanship,” Dr Ruto said.
Forced into opposition
The DP warned that his political opponents were slowly driving the country back into anarchy through intimidation, coercion and threats to force support from leaders.
“This is foolishness. They want to take us back to the politics of the bygone days when the government used to impose choices on people. Many governors and MPs call me over Whatsapp to tell me of the threats they are getting,” he said.
According to Dr Ruto, part of the scheme by his opponents is to set him up against the President and eventually push him out of government.
“We have to change the culture where deputy presidents are used, dumped and forced into opposition. It is a shame that the deputy president can be humiliated just because it is a tradition,” he said.
He said a smooth transition and sound succession planning were among the yardsticks of a successful presidency.