Ruto is to blame for his own woes, says CCM leader
By Noah Cheploen and Philip Yegon
Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM) leader Isaac Ruto has waded into the leadership row rocking the ruling Jubilee, saying the ongoing purge targeting Deputy President William Ruto’s lieutenants was justified.
Describing the removal of Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen and his Tharaka Nithi counterpart Kithure Kindiki from the positions of Leader of Majority and Deputy Speaker, respectively as normal, the CCM leader said he would do the same if he were in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s shoes.
Speaking during Emoo FM’s Mwaa eng Emoo morning programme yesterday, the former Bomet governor said time had come for Uhuru to stamp his authority in the party, adding that junior politicians had taken his patience for granted for long.
“As an observer and a politician, I can tell you what is happening there is normal.
That is how politics is played,” he said, citing the case of the then Vice President George Saitoti who watched in shock as President Daniel arap Moi abandoned him at Kasarani Stadium after the Kanu-NDP merger in 2002.
After serving for more than a decade as Moi’s vice president, Saitoti expected to be endorsed as the Kanu presidential candidate.
But Moi preferred the then political greenhorn Uhuru as his successor.
Ruto said the Constitution gives the party leader powers to discipline errant members and faulted Murkomen for going against the wishes of the President, who is the Jubilee leader.
“What he (Murkomen) forgot is that he represents his party leader, who happens to be the President, in the Senate.
The President cannot go there (the Senate) so he represents him in the House,” he said.
The former governor, who is also involved in a supremacy war in the Rift Valley region with Ruto, said the President needs loyal people who can help him secure his legacy.
“As the head of the Executive, the President needs people who can help him push his agenda such as pass bills, support government policies and generally help him implement his manifesto,” he said.
He attributed the bad blood between Uhuru and Ruto to the latter’s opposition of the Handshake between the President and Opposition leader Raila Odinga, and his early 2022 campaigns.
“The President told them to stop campaigns but they didn’t listen and that is why he branded them Tanga Tanga,” said Ruto, who is also a former MP for Chepalungu.
He added: “If the President wants to leave a legacy such as the Big Four agenda, then he has to put his house in order and the Constitution gives him powers to sack even MPs who fail to toe the line.”
He cited the case of his predecessors in Chepalungu constituency John Koech and Nathaniel Chebelion who were kicked out of Kanu when the Independence party was in power.
“This is about management of political parties and there is nothing wrong with that,” he said.
He also attributed the Deputy President’s current woes to his decision to fold his United Republican Party (URP) ahead of the 2017 election against his advice.
“Nobody would be harassing his people because when you have your party, you have a voice,” he said.
Ruto revealed that talks between CCM and Jubilee were at advanced stage with the aim of signing a cooperation agreement next week.
“We are holding a virtual meeting on Saturday where our officials are going to endorse our engagement with Jubilee,” he said, but added that the two parties were yet to discuss Cabinet positions or what CCM would get for supporting the government.
Ruto revealed that CCM will not sign a post-election agreement with Jubilee because the party is still tied to the National Super Alliance (Nasa). Instead, the party will sign a document cementing cooperation between the two parties.
“We haven’t discussed 2022 elections. We only discussed matters between now and the next two years… matters to do with the stability of the country and social-economic development,” he said.
He added that he had already instructed the two MPs elected on CCM ticket to work with Jubilee.
He said Uhuru approached him in person after the disputed 2017 presidential election that threatened to split the country into two with Nasa flag-bearer Raila taking an oath as the “people’s president” at Uhuru Park.
The former Council of Governors chairman said he was not surprised by the March 9, 2018 Handshake between the President and his erstwhile rival and Raila.
“President Uhuru was among the first people who called me after the election and he even invited me to his place and we had a long chat.
He said he was concerned with the situation in the country. He told me his priority was to unite the country,” Ruto said.
It was during this conversation, he revealed, that Uhuru confided in him that he was going to talk to Raila in a bid to calm political temperatures and stabilise the country.
Meanwhile, Bureti MP Japhet Mutai yesterday warned that the Deputy President will not be a pushover in the 2022 election.
He said despite the ongoing talks among political parties which are aimed at sidelining Ruto, he would still command huge support countrywide in the next polls.
Speaking on a local radio station yesterday, Mutai dismissed the coalition bringing together Raila’s ODM, Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper and Ford-Kenya of Moses Wetang’ula among others.
“Removing of Ruto’s allies from Senate and other positions is purely politics of succession.
Those targeted had not gone against the Jubilee Party agenda both in the Parliament and outside. But all this will not weaken DP politically,” said the MP.
He added: “ We are asking our political opponents to watch this space.”