Mt Kenya politics; DP Ruto playing the man not the ball
By OLIVIA CHEBET
In football, it would be known as playing the man, not the ball. Away from The Beautiful Game, it might be considered to be an "ad hominem" scheme.
In whatever way, it is plainly Deputy President William Ruto’s strategic tactic in recent times is to sustain a personal attack against his boss, President Uhuru Kenyatta instead of running issue-related political campaigns.
With the election just months away, the stakes and emotions are rising as the dreaded date gets closer. It's also a time when people retreat further into their political tribes and social media enclaves, where only the bravest of souls will venture with a nonconforming opinion.
For the past few years, the conflict between Uhuru and his deputy has been playing out behind the scenes but it now appears the gloves are off and it’s spewing out in the public in bountiful doses.
If President Uhuru’s recent media interview is anything to go by, DP Ruto is headed to the most difficult time on his campaign trail. Uhuru appears to be taking no prisoners and is willing to stop at nothing to deliver their promise to Kenyans as the term comes to an end. His calls for the DP to resigns depict a man who is tired of an ending backbiting and, if he could have his way, he would long have sacked Ruto.
From outright lies to fictional stories coupled with an equally young and creative social media team, DP has been serving Kenyans doses of cheap propaganda against his boss, with aims of creating divisions and pitting Uhuru against the populous region, most of who voted for him to the last man
An example of a black propaganda touted by Ruto’s lieutenants in the region has been the narrative that the ground is unfriendly and hostile to Uhuru that was popularized by a phrase “Jeshi ti ngenu” in local dialect to mean ‘the youth are not happy’. However, things were the opposite when Uhuru toured the region and was given a heroic welcome.
Despite making nearly weekly “development” visits to Mt Kenya region, the enraged DP has used spin doctors to convince the people that they have been neglected in terms of development.
Respectively, Uhuru has accused his deputy of speaking out of both sides of his mouth and attempting to play all the cards, claiming credit for the government and at the same time criticising it.
“You want to sing the praises of government on one hand. You are saying this is what we have done and you want to ride on that. But on the other side of your mouth, you're talking another language,” said Uhuru.
A resentful Ruto has for a while feigned humility and respect for his boss. Yet the mask of humility has now fallen off. The gloves of egg-treatment have come off. The fist fight is on, in the bareness of its knuckles.
Machakos Governor wading into Mt Kenya politics recently remarked that Deputy President William Ruto, is a master of deception and has successfully managed to divide the vote-rich region; something he said was not achieved by the late retired president Daniel arap Moi, dubbed the professor of politics.
"You have to give William Ruto credit. He has managed to do what Moi never managed to do, and that was to fracture the Mt Kenya region. He has been able to divide the people of Mt Kenya region and get support from some of them. The people of Mt Kenya need to put their act together," Mutua told Citizen TV on Thursday, June 17.
Despite all the cheap publicity by Ruto’s team, Uhuru in liaison with Ministry of Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya has transformed coffee sector and the farmers are smiling again after a whopping profit of Sh. 17 billion after years of grappling. Factories used to pay farmers between Ksh. 10-35 per Kilogram, Today; they are receiving over Ksh. 100 a Kilo. The Government has also put up a heated battle to eradicate coffee cartels that deter farmers from getting a proportional pay to their hard work.
Undoubtedly, Uhuru has the best interest of Mt Kenya region at heart. And just like former President Mwai Kibaki, Uhuru dedicated his first years in the presidency for national causes and development, almost creating the impression that he was neglecting his backyard. However, he has launched major development projects in Mt Kenya region during his final years visibly shutting the mouths of the likes of Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria and Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua who had claimed the region was neglected.
The president commissioned construction of the Sh30 billion Kenol-Makutano-Sagana-Karatina-Marua highway, 84km of the Great Northern Highway and Sh27 billion Mau Mau cluster network connecting Nyeri, Murang’a, Nyandarua and Kiambu counties, a stretch of 540km.
More than Sh1 billion has been pumped into the Othaya Level Six Hospital, which had benefited from about Sh700 million by the time Kibaki left office in 2013.
The revival of the Nairobi-Nanyuki railway line is part of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s plan to accelerate implementation of promised development projects in the region.. The government recently pumped Sh3 billion for the refurbishment of the railway, which will serve eight counties -- Laikipia, Nyandarua, Nyeri, Kiambu, Murang'a, Kirinyaga and Isiolo -- and will also connect the region to the Lamu Port South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) corridor.
During the Monday interview with top editors at State House, Nairobi, Uhuru warned Kenyans against voting for Ruto, saying he is dangerous and is a threat to the country’s future stability.
“It is unfortunate that within and amongst us, there are those who would sacrifice interests over personal political agendas. And I believe these are the things Kenyans need to look for,” he said.
The President’s remarks were the clearest demonstration yet that the DP would be getting it rough going forward as the country moves towards the August 9, 2022 polls.
DP Ruto, who has portrayed himself as a staunch Christian seems to have cooked his own goose and is currently trending on murky waters of dirty politics and it’s only a matter of time his tower of babel will come trampling down. His divisive hustler vs dynasty politics will be undone the moment his master will roll his sleeves and hit the campaign trail to market his preferred successor.
Long story short, Kikuyus love Uhuru and as it has been said earlier, you can never buy a kikuyu, only rent. They are loyal to their own. Take this to the bank.
Ms Chebet is a regular commentator on social, economic and political affairs.