Politics

Why Ruto Wouldn’t Fancy A Deputy President Like Himself

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President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto will leave a poignant lesson for future holders of their respective offices on how not to coexist.

Their second term has seen the worst of public spats, whitewashing whatever chemistry they flaunted in the early days of their presidency.

And today, presidential contenders seem to have learnt the lesson, insisting on ‘subordination’ and self-effacing as key qualities of their prospective running mates.

These lessons must be applied now to avoid another interlude of bickering and squabbling between two partners supposed to be running the government smoothly.

Ruto has largely kept his running mate affairs under wraps, but his relationship with Uhuru is not an experience he would want to repeat should he win.

The jury is out on who between the president and his deputy bears the greatest responsibility for their fallout, but both, undoubtedly, played a part.

A model deputy president is a perfect subordinate, who would not question the president in public.

That was Ruto in the Jubilee government’s first term, always pledging allegiance to Uhuru.

In the second term, the DP unveiled another side, openly confronting the president for a myriad of issues.

Ruto has accused Uhuru of allegedly mismanaging the economy and hence raising the cost of living, prioritising “non-issues”, such as the Building Bridges Initiative, sidelining him in government and assigning him no roles.

The validity of Ruto’s concerns aside, the Constitution assigns the DP no specific roles, with the holder of the position dependent on duties assigned by the president.

Public lamentations

“From his perspective, Ruto will have all manner of justifications as to why things went south,” says governance analyst Tom Mboya.

That Ruto would not lie down as he was the subject of “injustice” was never in doubt.

Long before Uhuru picked him for a running mate, the DP had shown his abrasive side.

It was this character that landed him in constant fights with Raila Odinga during the grand-coalition government, at a time their relationship was that of a boss and a subordinate.

Raila was the prime minister, coordinating and supervising execution of the functions and affairs of government, including those of ministries.

Ruto was Minister of Agriculture, appointed by Raila as a member of the Orange Democratic Movement.

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Such appointments in Kenya buy loyalty. Raila’s appointment of Ruto did not. The two spent much of their time in Cabinet exchanging words until Ruto’s eventual sacking in 2011.

To a large extent, Ruto did not shy from publicly engaging his boss courtesy of the fact that Raila could not fire him on his own as such an action would have to result from consultations with then-President Mwai Kibaki.

The situation is somewhat similar now – Ruto continues to challenge the president because Uhuru lacks the power to fire him. And the DP probably has this in mind.

“He wants to be able to execute his mandate. That would not be possible with a deputy who is uncooperative,” Mboya adds, a view shared by political commentator Herman Manyora.

“Ruto does not want a ‘Ruto’ for a deputy because he knows how much headache and damage he has caused the president,” Manyora says.

“He knows how difficult it is to run the government with someone who is disloyal.”

In addition to his public lamentations, Ruto’s runaway ambition was always bound to cause friction between himself and Uhuru.

As soon as the two were sworn in for their second term in 2017, the DP seemingly kicked off his 2022 presidential campaign, touring the country – mostly Mt Kenya region – to “launch projects.”

When Uhuru relieved his deputy of roles in 2019, assigning key functions to Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, Ruto did not stop his tours, indicating that he perhaps intended to use them to popularise himself.

Uhuru did not conceal his dissent, accusing his deputy of “loitering” around.

In recent days, he has accused Ruto of absconding duty to “incite gatherings at market places”.

“Ruto will want someone who will not pursue his agenda as soon as they are elected. He may want someone with whom he has worked in the past and who he is comfortable with; someone who is pliant and not a political competitor,” Mboya says.

The DP will name his running mate in a few days, but his reported preference of Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki over Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua, speaks of a man who wants to handle his selection of a running mate carefully.

The former is soft-spoken while Gachagua is thought of as abrasive.

“Ruto has stayed with all his allies since 2013 and he knows who can be extremely loyal,” Manyora says.


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