Deputy President William Ruto’s political inroads in Western and Nyanza has had a rough ride in recent days, even as the DP maintained his confidence that his frequent visits to the region will bear fruit in 2022.
The DP skipped the Thursday funeral of Nyamira governor John Nyagarama—attended by ODM leader Raila Odinga and Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i—for what sources said was fear of hostile reception, but on Saturday visited Bumula in Bungoma County for a funeral before heading to Matungu in neighbouring Kakamega County as the hunt in the vote-rich region continues.
The DP was present in the burial of Mr Justus Murunga in Matungu and Mr James Lusweti in Kabuchai, both funerals avoided by Mr Odinga, in ongoing cases where the two leaders have avoided seeing each other in places seen to back the other.
The Odinga allies who attended the two funerals insisted that the ODM leader is the man to beat in the region, and that the DP is to blame for the problems facing the country, with those allied to the DP returning the favour, saying their man is the big thing ahead of 2022.
Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, a key Raila Odinga ally in the region, walked out of the Bungoma funeral before the DP spoke, but not before accusing him of failing to address the woes bedevilling the region, chief among them the limping sugar sector.
“We held meetings on the revival of the sugar factories and presented our report but nothing has been done,” Mr Oparanya told the DP.
When he rose to speak in Bungoma, the DP took issue with calls from MPs allied to Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi and his Ford-Kenya counterpart Moses Wetang’ula for him to back them for the 2022 State House seat.
“When I was organinsing myself politically with President Kenyatta, some people dismissed me and what we were trying to do. Now, the MPs who support me are about 150. The ones that support Musalia Mudavadi are 10. Those that back Wetang’ula are 12. Now, how do you even see how these people will compete with me? ” the DP posed.
According to Dr Ruto, the demand that he backs down from the presidential race is because his family was not as well-known as those of the people he is running against.
"Gideon Moi was a son of a president, ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi was the son of a minister. Even Wetang’ula here, I am told was the son of a chief while my father was just a mere peasant — not even a village elder — yet you are asking me to support them. Is that fair?” the DP posed.
Confident of his ‘Hustler Nation’ politics, the DP said he will not be intimidated by politicians from privileged families he said are united against him.
However, Mr Mudavadi’s spokesman Kibisu Kabatesi yesterday responded swiftly, terming the DP as a person who has been infatuated by hubris.
“Hubris is a disease politicians avoid, but for William Ruto, he covets and is infatuated by hubris. It is hubris that drives him to undermine his own government and oppose his boss, the President,” Mr Kabatesi said in a strongly-worded statement. “Ruto appeared so cock sure of his support in Western that he chose it as the venue to goad the two leaders into a union with him. The two leaders aren’t ready to offer him a shoulder to cry on.”
Reporting By Patrick Lang’at, Brian Ojamaa and David Mwere