- Rarely is he accompanied to his public functions by ministers compared with Mr Kenyatta, calling into question the level of synchrony in the Jubilee administration.
- Dr Kibicho said the allegations that the government had withdrawn security from a church function attended by DP Ruto in Tetu, Nyeri, late last year were false.
Despite his public display of bravado, sometimes barking orders to lazy road contractors to speed up the job, Deputy President (DP) William Ruto cuts a figure of a lone ranger in a government caught up in intense succession politics ahead of his boss Uhuru Kenyatta’s retirement.
Just two days ago, Cabinet secretaries (CS) Fred Matiang’i (Interior) and Eugene Wamalwa (Devolution) joined ODM leader Raila Odinga at a Building Bridges Initiative meeting in Kisii while DP Ruto addressed the public in Luanda, Vihiga, some 130 kilometres away, in the company of local members of the county assembly and a handful of MPs with no senior government official present, not even the county commissioner.
Rarely is he accompanied to his public functions by ministers compared with Mr Kenyatta, calling into question the level of synchrony in the Jubilee administration.
While this has been going on for a while now, observers say that officially, the isolation started when President Kenyatta issued Executive Order No 1 of 2019 that elevated Dr Matiang’i to a super CS, kick-starting a frosty relationship between the ministry and the DP that at one time nearly generated into a physical confrontation between him and PS Karanja Kibicho.
OFFICIALS KEEP OFF
DP Ruto is said to have protested the move that he says was meant to usurp some of his duties as the principal assistant to the President.
In the new role, Dr Matiang’i was mandated to chair a Cabinet subcommittee on development and given the powers to supervise all government projects in what was seen as move to tame the DP’s national tours in the name of inspecting government projects.
It is also in the aftermath of the executive order that reports of senior public servants giving the DP’s functions a wide berth emerged.
So bad have things become that most government functionaries do not want to be associated with him for fear that overzealous Harambee House operatives may target them for disciplinary action as a result.
The same is true of parastatal chiefs who in the past would without worrying invite him to attend their public events and give speeches.
Save for a few daring ones, especially those ‘investing’ in his presidential push, no one wants to touch the second in command now.
A public quarrel pitting DP Ruto and Kieni MP Kanini Kega last week over a Sh500,000 donation from President Kenyatta appears to be the straw that broke the camel’s back, forcing him to fight back.
The DP on Tuesday assailed Mr Kega, accusing him of undermining his office after he brought the money to the family of Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua during the burial of his mother.
The President did not attend the funeral in Nyeri but dispatched two different representatives, triggering what has only fortified perceptions of a major rift in government.
While the President detailed the DP to deliver his speech to the mourners, he gave Mr Kega his donation to deliver to the family, which he did, attracting the DP’s wrath, telling mourners that he is the only person who can represent the President.
“You all know that there is only one person in Kenya who was sworn in to deputise the President. And I will do that very diligently. Everybody should do their job. If you are working in a hospital, do that. If you are a watchman or MCA do your job. Let us respect each other,” the DP said before reading a written message from the Head of State.
It was not the first time the DP was finding it necessary to remind the country that he was the second in command.
Last year, he told Mr Odinga, who had on several occasions been dispatched by the President to represent him in official engagements, that he was the only principal assistant to the Head of State.
LEARN FROM HISTORY
The ensuing tiff between Mr Kega and MPs allied to the DP, and the fact he felt constrained to respond to assertions by the MP, is baffling because it is not the first time this was happening.