Concern is growing that President Uhuru Kenyatta is presiding over a Cabinet with divided loyalty amid reports that some members were biding their time before they openly support Deputy President William Ruto’s presidential campaign.
The DP has said he has had secret meetings with CSs sympathetic to his political cause, but who would rather remain anonymous for fear of harassment by State agents.
But the Nation has learnt the issue is causing tension in Cabinet with members viewing each other with suspicion and being more careful about the people they meet lest they are associated with the Ruto camp.
“It’s so difficult in the Cabinet. We live suspicious of each other lest you speak out of turn,” a Cabinet Secretary, who sought anonymity, told the Nation.
When asked specifically about reports that some Cabinet members were secretly supporting the DP, who has fallen out with his boss, he responded: “Definitely. But also more because a majority of them are planning for the next dispensation. And they think [the] DP is far ahead of any other person.”
The CS said those deemed to be the President’s allies must constantly observe diligence in their speeches as well as thoroughly vet the people they meet in their offices lest it is reported they met DP Ruto’s loyalists.
The CS said, the DP’s field visits have become a nightmare because of the detailed information on specific projects that he reels out in public. “Since he has a tendency of reciting government projects by name, by tender, by contractor, by worth and by time frames, the President’s men start asking respective ministries who fed [Ruto] with information,” he disclosed.
The DP has himself publicly admitted that he holds secret meetings with high profile government officials who are reluctant to be associated with him particularly as his relationship with his boss deteriorates.
“I met 17 other governors recently to discuss with them future politics. There are so many other high profile Kenyans who discuss with me — Cabinet Secretaries, Principal Secretaries, government officials and other people who are interested in politics. But because of the nature of politics in Kenya today, that if you are seen with William Ruto, the next morning, Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) will be on your case, many of them prefer that we have these discussions in private,” the DP disclosed in April.
“When all this is done and dusted and all the people I talk to step forward, people will be very shocked that the buy-in on the Hustler narrative, the extent to which people believe we have the correct template of transforming Kenya, people will be surprised,” the DP said in the interview with Citizen TV.
It would appear President Kenyatta finds himself having to deal with the consequences of their jolly times in the first term of their administration when Cabinet appointments were shared on a 50:50 basis in accordance with a pre-election coalition agreement signed in the run-up to the 2013 elections.
And although the coalition ended in their re-election in 2017 under Jubilee party, some members of Cabinet were retained and the two leaders’ subsequent falling-out that has split the ruling party into factions, apparently continues to inform loyalties.
Mt Kenya political analyst Ngugi Njoroge told the Nation that when a Cabinet is a result of a pre-bargained deal where the DP brought in half of them “you cannot rule out that those on his side are not feeding him with crucial information about what their boss is up to in matters succession.”
“It would be sheer naivety to believe that Dr Ruto does not have his loyalists in the Cabinet and who won’t hesitate to advantage him with what their boss is up to especially also helping him to sabotage what might disadvantage him (Dr Ruto) in the succession battle,” Prof Njoroge argued.
Sports Chief Administrative Secretary Zack Kinuthia said whether the Cabinet has Ruto moles “is something I from my perch cannot confirm or deny. Counter intelligence is always an existential threat when the government is split into cubicles.”
Half the Cabinet
Sunday, the DP’s allies claimed that by September, those who have secretly supported him — his camp claims half the Cabinet — will show their cards in the open.
The chairman of the DP-linked United Democratic Alliance (UDA) Johnson Muthama said the CSs will be revealed “in due course.”
“CSs and PSs are also voters, but due to laid down regulations, they cannot come out to sell a certain politician. Therefore, the majority are rallying behind Ruto for presidency and they are going around the country urging their people to support Ruto come 2022 confidentially,” Mr Muthama, the former Machakos senator, claimed.
“While some are leaning towards Ruto, there is also another lot backing Raila Odinga because it’s only the two who are likely to form the next government,” Mr Muthama added.
South Mugirango MP Sylvanus Osoro claimed there are five CSs and over 10 Chief Administrative Secretaries (CAS) who have been meeting DP Ruto at night and have vowed to support him.
“There are many Nicodemus meeting Ruto at night. Some are governors, CSs, PSs. Everybody is preparing themselves for the next election,” added Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen.
Risk being sacked
Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua said a majority of CSs and PSs, who are leaning towards the DP, risk being sacked if spotted in public associating with him.
He claimed most of those in government as well as county bosses have promised to declare their support for the Ruto State House bid in public from September, less than a year to the elections.
Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata said the faction of the ruling party allied to the President and which supports his truce with ODM leader Raila Odinga is yet to come to terms with the magnitude of the crisis it is in.
“Nearly 60 per cent of the government is with the Hustler nation,” he claimed.
For Soy MP Caleb Kositany, those in the Cabinet must now decide which side of the political divide they want to be in as 2022 General Election nears.
“The time to decide and take a position is fast approaching, plan well for the future, whatever your current position is,” he tweeted.