Tuju

Jubilee Party Secretary-General Raphael Tuju during an interview in Nairobi on September 10, 2021.

| Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

Tuju: How we plan to kick DP Ruto out of the government

Why are you going for the DP?

He is a very lucky man to be the Jubilee deputy party leader and also the UDA party leader. He is the senior-most promoter of UDA, so for all intents and purposes, he is the party leader. The DP is breaking the law with abandon. This should also attract the attention of the Registrar of Political Parties but I can assure you that we are dealing with the situation internally.

At what stage is the plan to remove him as Jubilee Party deputy leader?

Telling you that would be tantamount to broadcasting our issues. The next NMC will address that matter. We will then make the announcement.

But the NMC has made the announcement before

Yes. It has been handled before by the NMC but recent sentiments and behaviour that violate the party constitution warrant another sitting to settle the matter once and for all.

Will stripping Dr Ruto of the position have any bearing on him as the deputy president?

There are different legal opinions on whether the position of the deputy president is necessarily tied to the position of deputy party leader. Jubilee will move to the Supreme Court, which we expect will clarify the matter by giving an advisory on the same.

But there is also another school of thought in the party that we let matters remain the way they are rather than spending an endless amount of time in Parliament or courts fighting over things we can settle in the next elections by letting the people decide.

How strong is that school of thought within the party?

It is an idea just like there is another school of thought that rendering him the deputy party leader denies him the privilege of being the deputy president. I won’t be able to go into details on how strong it is.

What is this thing the DP did to President Kenyatta that saw them part ways or the other way round?

A lot of that was covered in our Monday press release. But I also must tell you, the President is very much engaged in trying to do the things Kenyans wanted him to do. We are months away from the next General Election.

But what is it that straw that finally broke the camel’s back?

I wouldn’t want to talk on President’s behalf on what may have happened. What I can tell you is that I have seen the President plead on several occasions with the DP. One was at Bomas of Kenya during a Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) meeting. The President made it clear that it is his desire to leave a united country for posterity. We cannot develop with the many cases of ethnic strife witnessed during elections.

The economy had grown by 7.2 per cent in 2007 but because of the post-election violence, it crashed to 0.2 per cent the following year. Uniting the country is not a luxury we can choose to do or not. The President and those of us who support it know that. There were those weekly demonstrations - what they use to call tear Monday or Thursdays in 2018. Any foreign investor in Nairobi trying to establish business in Kenya would be told not to leave the hotel because of the demonstrations outside.

That is how we lost out on investment opportunities. How then do you address youth unemployment? The chickens have come home to roost. In the 1980s and 1990s, Kenya had the highest rate of population growth in the world. There was no plan by previous governments to plan for this increase of young people. Today, a million youth are moving from Standard Eight to Form One.

Four years later, there will be a million leaving secondary school. After two years, it is two million, then three, and there is no plan on how to accommodate them. Robert Ouko told me when I was a young journalist that we were going to be in hot soup.

We are going to be in hot soup, in terms of youth desperation, unless we do something fast. We will not do something about it if all we do is spend our time scheming how this tribe is going to dominate the other, how this group of politicians should plan on having their time to eat, so to speak.

So, how has the DP undermined that quest for Unity?

Well, we have one party leader, one Commander-In-Chief of the armed forces, one President. If he takes a particular direction, we should follow him, and especially if the direction is supported by our party’s constitution which gives the president the mandate and the responsibility to reach out to other communities, political formations and so forth for the sake of bringing the country together.

If you have a serious difference of opinion to the direction the President is taking, I do not know what else to call it.

Has the President reached out to the DP lately in a bid to reconcile?

You saw the President do it openly when he gave the example that he was trying to pass the baton to Deputy President Ruto. The DP took it and ran backwards. It may have come as a jest but he was literally appealing to the DP to come on board. His pronouncements after that, were not that reconciliatory. You can reach out to somebody but you can’t shake hands with a fist. What then do you do?

Is their political divorce beyond salvation?

I do not think anything is beyond redemption.

Assuming the DP played ball, was President Kenyatta going to support his presidential bid next year?

I think the DP would have been in a very strong position to take over the country. He would have been in a much stronger position as a statesman than he is at the moment if he had embraced this whole idea of reaching out to other Kenyans.

Other political formations and going above the differences he has exhibited. I personally think he would have been at a much stronger position if he had embraced this idea of bringing the country together.

But that is not the same as being supported by the President to succeed him, right?

 It is the President’s democratic right to support anyone he deems fit and I don’t want to speculate whether he would have or he would not have. But there is also a very strong sentiment that the President expressed in Western Kenya.

That one of the ways of healing this country is to break the pattern of only having members of two communities ruling the country for 60 years at the level of the president or deputy president.

This reinforces resentment from other people who feel excluded. Why should the presidency only originate from two ethnic communities? That sentiment is real and deep as I hear it all the time. Children are being born and as they grow, they must have the hope that they can rise to be anything.

Surely, the presidency and the deputy presidency should not just be the preserve of two communities out of the 45 ethnic communities we have Kenya. I know the world is not fair, but if we have an opportunity to make it fair, we should put that in the back of our minds. It happened in the past but is not sustainable.

DP Ruto blames the March 9, 2018 handshake (between President Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga) on the current state of affairs. Do you agree?

That is just an excuse.

A few days ago, you gave a blistering press release on the DP in the company of other party officials. Why the bad blood between you and Dr Ruto?

There is nothing personal really. I recall most of his people agitated very aggressively for my removal from office, more aggressive than the recent calls for my dismissal.

If there is anything personal with the DP maybe they should tell you because I don’t know of any. Being the party spokesman, it is my responsibility to read such statements. He either answers the matters we raised in the press statement or shuts up.

Why is it very difficult to bring order in Jubilee? It is literally a house in chaos?

You will appreciate that in a party as big as Jubilee, politics is a contact sport, people will be fighting and scheming to get rid of others and the likes. That is expected in a democratic institutions. If there is so noise in churches, we must accept noise in political parties.

Ours is not a military formation. I would be very worried if we were in the business of taming differences in opinion. It is okay for people to raise issues with my performance because I am not perfect. The criticism makes you better. It creates some form of introspection.

You have been accused of paying lip service to the party in the past by-elections and generally what is seen as the dwindling fortunes of Jubilee. Why can’t Raphael Tuju just resign?

If you don’t like the heat, don’t get into the political kitchen. I’d resign if there was an integrity issue. If I have misappropriated funds or something like that. If the funds cannot be accounted for and my pockets are bulging, I would quit. As it is, there is no reason I should throw in the towel. I will not quit because someone at a funeral gathering somewhere says he does not like me. You don’t have to like me.

Why do they want to remove you as Jubilee Secretary-General?

Anytime you occupy a political position – be it a party official, ward representative or Member of Parliament, you would be naïve to think that nobody else is interested in it. These are not permanent positions. It would be naive of me to think that everybody wants me as Jubilee secretary-general.

We gathered that it took the intervention of President Kenyatta for you and David Murathe, the party vice chairman to retain your positions. Is that so?

I don’t know about that. We are in a transition period and the only available means to remove us from office is through grassroots elections all the way to national level.

Without that, the only available option is for anyone who does not want me around to convince the President to have me removed.

When does the transitional clause end?

When the grassroots elections are conducted. We were to have the elections in 2019 then the Covid-19 pandemic struck. We also received a letter from the Registrar of the Political parties on the need to de-segregate our membership list to the ward level.

What is the genesis of the war within Jubilee?

It is a conspiracy of factors. Factors with underlining issues. There are those who want see the country take the route of political duopoly where two ethnic blocs dominate power. The President wants to unite the country, our party Constitution supports this. It is true the 2007 violence were ethnic driven.

In 2013, some Kenyans were entertaining the idea of secession. The 2017 elections too were divisive. The very of Kenya is at risk unless we do something.

That’s the philosophical leaning among those of us supporting the President compared to those who feel it is enough have Kikuyu and Kalenjin alliance, Luo-Kikuyu or Luhya-Kamba blocs form government then load on the rest of Kenyans.

Tomorrow in the Sunday Nation: Tuju reveals progress of the merger between ODM and Jubilee, his battles with bankruptcy, fight for his life after an accident and what it taught him about life and money.

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