How plans to heckle Ruto at Mashujaa Day fete unravelled
By Murimi Mutiga and Sophie Njoka
A plan to heckle Deputy President William Ruto during the Mashujaa Day celebrations on Sunday in Mombasa aborted at the last minute after he tactically avoided to be drawn into the debate on the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) and Handshake.
Ruto, who spoke after former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Mombasa governor Hassan Joho had addressed the gathering, ignored BBI and Handshake sentiments by the two and instead choose to pursue a different agenda for himself.
It emerged yesterday that a group of youths had been imported to the venue to heckle Ruto “if he dared oppose Handshake and BBI.”
Heavy deployment of security at the venue scattered the group and only a few of them managed to get space in front of the presidential dais.
Their intermittent voices as the DP spoke were, however, drowned out by another crowd that was cheering Ruto on, seated on the right side of the Presidential tent.
Uhuru appeared to have prevailed upon his deputy to avoid politics in his speech after it emerged the event could turn political. In unusual occurrence, Uhuru and Ruto went behind the dais as Joho was speaking where they had a brief chat.
A source who sought anonymity said the two agreed to steer clear of politics during the event. It has also emerged that Raila had not been listed as one of the speakers during the Mashujaa fete held at the refurbished Mama Ngina Water Front Park.
The programme, which had been drawn by the military commanders, had only President Uhuru as the chief guest, Ruto and Joho. However, Joho broke the protocol and invited Raila to address the gathering.
Other leaders, among them former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, governors, senators and MPs who attended the celebrations were not given chance to address.
Earlier, Raila and Joho had tried to draw Ruto and President Uhuru Kenyatta to the discourse but the two avoided it.
Raila had said that the BBI was unstoppable and urged Kenyans to support it so as to end politics of ethnicity and exclusion.
“We must strengthen leadership in our country, this is the meaning of Handshake. Handshake is getting Kenya back on the track, we must stop tribalism, corruption and disunity so that Kenyans live together as brother and sister. BBI is on the way, let us support it,” he said.
Joho launched attack on unnamed leaders whom he claimed were advancing personal interest before those of the country.
“Those leaders are hell-bent on creating rift between Uhuru and Raila,” he said.
And as he was inviting Ruto to address the gathering, Joho said he hoped the DP would support Handshake and BBI arousing cheering from a section of the crowd.
But when he stood to speak, Ruto chose to highlight Jubilee government’s achievements asking Kenyans to offer support to President Uhuru’s development agenda.
“Seven years of your leadership, we have seen tremendous investment in our infrastructure, we have built a brand new railway, we have built many kilometres of roads, we have connected many to electricity, your excellency you are our hero as well,” he said.
Ruto said Kenya must deal with poverty and unemployment as they remain hindrance to transformation of the country.
The DP asked Kenyans to “refuse to be drawn into politics of ethnicity, hatred, division, political deceit” and stand firm behind Uhuru to solidify unity of the country.
On Friday, Uhuru threw his weight behind BBI saying it will provide solution to divisive politics and help unite the country.
Ruto has said he will oppose BBI if its meant to create positions for some politicians.
Meanwhile, amidst pomp and colour that characterised the celebrations, claims of leaders, heroes and members of the public enduring pain and humiliation to attend the event have surfaced.
In Likoni, some residents were forced to stay indoors in fear of the heavy security personnel deployed. Kiambu governor Ferdinand Waititu was allegedly ejected from the venue by security officers.
There were also claims that former Vice President and Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka was forced to use the public entrance gates to the venue after he was apparently turned away from the VIP access gate.
Despite having special passes former Likoni MP Masoud Mwahima was forced to walk away after standing for hours while Chibule wa Tsuma, second liberation hero and former Kaloleni MP was among leaders who found themselves being tossed out by security officers.
Tsuma was stopped from accessing the dais and was forced to watch the event from screens put at the periphery.
“I feel disappointed with the whole Mashujaa fete, I was denied access and upon reaching out to a chief from my home area who had been alerted to bring me to the celebrations, he was asked if I had been given the special passes to allow entry. We were not allowed to sit at the dais,” he said.
Anglican Church of Kenya Mombasa diocese Bishop Alphonse Mwaro, despite holding a special pass, was forced to walk back to his vehicle almost a kilometre away because there was no seat reserved for him.
The visible angry Mwaro, who was to lead prayers at the State House luncheon, left Mama Ngina in huff and did not show up at the event.