In Summary
  • Mr Ruto’s absence was a departure from 2013 when he and the President paraded their Cabinet nominees in an elaborate ceremony marked by fanfare.

  • Senator Moi is the scion of President Kenyatta’s political godfather, retired president Daniel Moi.

  • Leading Jubilee luminaries are downplaying the DP’s absence, saying the public could be reading too much into it.

The unexplained absence of Deputy President William Ruto at State House when his boss Uhuru Kenyatta unveiled the first batch of the Cabinet offers a glimpse into the uncharacteristic and behind-the-scenes palace wars that could shape their second term in office.

While Mr Ruto’s handlers have confirmed he was in the country at the time, and even reported to work at his Harambee House Annex offices, his decision not to accompany President Kenyatta as he unveiled the partial Cabinet has triggered panic in government with everyone left guessing at his next course of action.

The crux of the matter, we can reveal, is that Mr Ruto has objected to some of the individuals Mr Kenyatta intends to bring on board when he finally names his full Cabinet and most likely opted to stay away in protest.

A source familiar with the ongoing talks on prospective Cabinet Secretaries said the DP was of the view that some of the current Cabinet Secretaries already left out by the President deserve reappointment.

DELAYED

As such, he has either delayed submitting his proposed lineup or some of the names he intends to nominate have been rejected. The source said Mr Ruto was last at State House on December 23 when he and the President had a meeting which ran late into the night.

But leading Jubilee luminaries are downplaying the DP’s absence, saying the public could be reading too much into it.

“We have one government which is led by the President. All of us, including me and the DP, are behind our leader and we endorse every decision he takes. Those who are speculating on the absence of the DP want to create a controversy where there is none. They are still stuck in the old ways of the coalition government. Our government is one and united,” Majority Leader in the National Assembly and Mr Ruto’s right hand man Aden Duale said.

GIDEON MOI

Mr Ruto’s absence was a departure from 2013 when he and the President paraded their Cabinet nominees in an elaborate ceremony marked by fanfare. That day, they donned similar attire depicting their cordial working relationship.

Mr Ruto is hoping to shape his 2022 bid with Cabinet appointees who will do his bidding and that is where he wants to have a bigger say in the appointments.

Some of the issues said to have incensed the DP is talk that his political nemesis from Rift Valley, Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, the man sharpening his knife to take him on in the 2022 presidential race, could make it to the Cabinet or at least his allies.

Senator Moi is the scion of President Kenyatta’s political godfather, retired president Daniel Moi.

Mr Moi, who is also the Kanu chairman, has indicated a willingness to resign as a lawmaker to serve in government. While Mr Kiprono Kittony, the chairman of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Kanu Secretary-General Nick Salat feature prominently as some of the individuals who may land plum slots courtesy of the Kenyatta-Kanu cooperation, former Bomet County chief Isaac Ruto’s name also keeps on cropping up as part of the deal.

The Deputy President’s spokesman, Mr David Mugonyi, while confirming the DP is in the country, did not want to comment on Friday’s events.

SHARING SLOTS

“He (Ruto) is in the country. That’s all I can say. I know what you people are looking for but you won’t get it,” he said.

It would also appear the folding of the political parties, chiefly TNA and URP, to form Jubilee could have returned to haunt Mr Ruto.

His allies argue that the DP had more leverage then on sharing slots in government and they fear this could be the beginning of the end of such a privilege.

In 2013, it was clearly agreed that the two would share Cabinet slots almost equally but with a homogenous party now, such appointments would largely be guided by the goodwill of the two which can be subject to abuse especially given that politicians are some of the best known cunning species.

Curiously, Mr Ruto has not tweeted about the changes announced by Mr Kenyatta. His retweets up until Friday were about reforms in the education sector yet that is the same day his boss announced he was retaining Dr Fred Matiang’i, Henry Rotich, Najib Balala, James Macharia, Charles Keter and Joe Mucheru from his 19-member Cabinet, effectively rendering the rest jobless.

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