What you need to know:
- It’s the third time the second-in-command is being asked to either resign or be impeached.
- Last October, some of his cabinet colleagues asked him to take a walk instead of constantly criticising the government.
For the third time in less than a year, Deputy President William Ruto is under pressure to resign for allegedly breaching the Constitution, political parties law and working against his boss, President Uhuru Kenyatta.
MPs allied to Mr Kenyatta, his Handshake partner Raila Odinga, Nairobi County MCAs and Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi want him to quit or face impeachment for associating with the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party.
They accused the self-declared ‘hustler’ of flouting the dictates of the Political Parties Act and the Constitution by propagating the interests of UDA.
ANC deputy party leader Ayub Savula Tuesday told journalists that the party had already crafted articles of impeachment against Dr Ruto, should he fail to resign, accusing him of propagating ethnic antagonism and discord among Kenyans.
“Ruto swore to serve the people of Kenya diligently by assisting the President prosecute government agenda. But Ruto has deviated, nay, subverted his oath of office to serve the President loyally. Just this Sunday, Ruto has the shameless knack to call the President, his boss, a tribalist,” the Lugari MP, flanked by Vihiga Woman Rep Beatrice Adagala, said.
Motion of impeachment
“We are calling on Ruto to do the right thing – resign – short of which he should be fired. Towards this end, we have taken the lead in preparing a motion of impeachment to protect Kenya against violent implosion being clandestinely fermented by Ruto, a rich and powerful man in government pretending to be poor.”
It is the third time Dr Ruto is being asked to either resign or be kicked out. In October last year, his Cabinet colleagues asked him to take a walk after two people were killed in violent clashes that rocked his rally in Murang’a.
Seven months earlier in March 2020, lawmakers allied to Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga, led by Senate Minority leader James Orengo, threatened another impeachment motion against the DP, but the push immediately died down.
The MPs pushing for the impeachment then said that Dr Ruto had failed his office and he should vacate his seat.
“The state of affairs leaves William Ruto with no option but to resign from the office and position of Deputy President,” the MPs said in a statement read by Baringo Woman Representative Gladwell Cheruiyot and Kathiani MP Robert Mbui.
No walk in the park
"He must shape up or ship out. He needs time and undivided attention to pursue the only thing that makes sense and has meaning in his life — dream and campaign for the 2022 presidential elections.”
The latest move by ANC, which has only 14 MPs, is not, however, a walk in the park since the impeachment only passes if it is supported by at least two-thirds of the MPs — 233 of the 349.
But even before introducing an impeachment, the Constitution sets the first threshold requiring an MP sponsoring the motion to get the support of at least a third of members — 117 of the 349 — before it can go to the next step.
If approved by more than 233 MPs, the motion will then be introduced in the Senate which will conduct a trial to ascertain that the charges of gross misconduct or violation of the Constitution have been met.
The two-thirds — 45 of the 67 senators — threshold also applies in the Senate.
Feeling safe, Dr Ruto’s allies dismissed Mr Savula’s impeachment threat.
“A village party that has less than 10 members is struggling to fell someone with a super majority in the National Assembly. Some jokes though! These are busybodies desperately seeking attention after the purported funeral endorsement. Savula and ANC are totally inconsequential in any meaningful discourse,” Belgut MP Nelson Koech said.
Dr Ruto’s office, as the second most powerful man in the land, has seen one attempt at impeachment, when Josephat Karanja faced a vote of no confidence in 1989 for “wanting to overthrow President Daniel arap Moi's government by soliciting help from foreign nations”.
Mr Karanja opted to resign rather than face the House.
Others that called it quits were Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, who resigned in April 1966, after ideological disagreements with President Jomo Kenyatta; Joseph Murumbi who quit in November 1966 following the shock assassination of politician Pio Gama Pinto; and most recently, the late Prof George Saitoti who quit in a huff to protest President Moi’s move to pick Mr Kenyatta as his successor in the 2002 polls after serving as vice president for 13 years.
Besides the rebuke on his comments directed at the President, the DP is also in another dilemma of promoting the interests of the newly registered UDA party — having been elected on a Jubilee ticket.
While the Ruto team argue they have the right to associate with UDA, a rebrand of Jubilee-affiliate Party of Development and Reforms (PDR), the allies of Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga say the UDA association amounts to decamping from the ruling party.
The Office of the Registrar of Political Parties (ORPP) said it would act should the ruling party go ahead to write a petition against the members, adding that such matters lie with the mother parties, in this case – Jubilee.
“We haven’t received any petition against any politicians from the party you have mentioned but any party member who goes outside the rules of engagement, it is the party to take it up and advise the registrar about what they have done,” the Registrar of Political Parties Ms Ann Nderitu told Nation.
Law on parties
Political Parties Act 2011 states that a person shall not be a member of more than one political party at the same time.
“A person who, while being a member of a political party, forms another political party, joins in the formation of another political party, joins another political party, in any way or manner, publicly advocates for the formation of another political party or promotes the ideology, interests or policies of another political party shall be deemed to have resigned from the previous political party,” the law says.
The DP on Sunday endorsed Bishop Margaret Wanjiru of new UDA party as the candidate of the Hustler Nation for the Nairobi governor’s by-election, sparking speculations that the country’s second in command could pick UDA as his vehicle of choice out of Jubilee.
Jubilee Secretary-General Raphael Tuju said the party was mulling its options on the action to take on the DP’s troops.
Wait and see
“We are curious but we will wait and see. A day in politics is long so we will wait and see. When people want to engage you in a certain way you don’t fall for the trap. When you have some of your members of the family decide to hurl abuses in public, if you also take that direction, then you will look like them,” Mr Tuju told the Nation.
“Responding to them is not one of the priorities we have now. You saw the President inspect development projects even on a Sunday – in Kisumu and that is a sign we are down to work and will not be distracted.”
ODM Political Affairs director Opiyo Wandayi said Dr Ruto’s continued stay in Jubilee and as the Deputy President is no longer tenable.
“It's a mockery of the dictates of the Political Parties Act and an abrogation of the Constitution that he swore to defend. The disharmony at the apex of Jubilee, which is the governing party, is inimical to the greater good of the country and its interests. Already, it has compromised service delivery to the people. The break-up in the Jubilee marriage should be quickly formalised to ensure national stability,” Mr Wandayi told the Nation.
Dr Ruto’s allies, led by the vocal Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, his Nakuru counterpart Susan Kihika and Jubilee Party Deputy Secretary-General Caleb Kositany, said UDA was formed as a safe haven for those facing intimidation and harassment from the Jubilee Party.
“We have left one room within Jubilee Party and joined another which is clean and has been renovated. We have opted to join this party after being blocked from the ruling party,” said Mr Murkomen.
No longer have a say
Mr Kositany said: “We formed Jubilee but to our dismay, we are humiliated and derided. We no longer have a say in it. In UDA which is an affiliate to Jubilee, we have a home that can help us ascend to power.”
Senator Kihika said UDA is a party for all and which will not discriminate anyone based on their social status or job.
“This is the kind of party that we want to build, a party that transcends regions, tribes, economic status, a party that is available and open to every Kenya, a party whose policy will be to make sure that we do not leave any Kenyan behind. When we go back to our constituents, we shall go and tell them that finally we have found a home for all of us,” Ms Kihika said.