Ruto’s absence from national conference raises eyebrows

Tuesday, September 29th, 2020 00:00 |
Deputy President William Ruto. Photo/COURTESY

Emeka-Mayaka Gekara

Deputy William Ruto yesterday gave the conference on Covid-19 in Nairobi a wide berth, signaling his continued self-isolation from key government functions.

The national meeting was meant to take stock of the country’s status after six months of fighting the Corona-virus pandemic which has claimed hundreds of lives, disrupted family routines, led to closure of businesses and loss of jobs.

The conference was led by President Uhuru Kenyatta and was attended by other key national leaders including the Speakers of the two Houses of Parliament, Chief Justice David Maraga and Opposition chief Raila Odinga.

Others at the conference at which the President relaxed some Covid-19 containment measures were Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi who participated in one of the panel discussions.

According to the programme, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i was supposed to give his remarks followed by Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka.

After Lusaka, Council of Governors chairman Wycliffe Oparanya was slated to speak before Raila took the stage.

According to the conference programme, Ruto was slated to speak after Raila before he invites the President to make his remarks.

After the president arrived at around 2pm, it was clear that his deputy was a no-show.

On realising his absence, organisers quickly removed the chair designated for the DP from the main dias.

Earlier, Soy MP Caleb Kositany, one of the DP’s strongest defenders had pointed that it was not usual for Ruto to be invited to Covid-19 related meetings. “Was this a mistake or?

The Deputy President has never been invited for any Covid conference. Why this one?” tweeted Kositany who attached the conference programme.

It was unclear where Ruto was but his allies were quick to defend his absence at the key conference.

“Let us stop the hypocrisy, if WSR’s contribution counted, how comes he has never been invited to any GOK Covid response meeting?

Now you want him to join the Covid millionaires in sharing their looting success. No sanitising the Kemsa scammers,” tweeted Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot.

After the end of the conference, President Uhuru was escorted out by Raila after the national anthem.

Ruto has been conspicuously missing from Covid-19 related events, only attending a prayer meeting at State House in April.

Wealth pyramid

Ruto on Sunday addressed a gathering in Bungoma during which he continued his defence of donations to small traders, who he often refers to as hustlers.

“We must reconfigure our way of conducting politics to one that attends to the needs of all Kenyans, their backgrounds notwithstanding.

This moment is for Mama Mbogas, Boda Bodas, Makangas, Mali Malis, Kinyozis, and other people at the bottom of the wealth pyramid to have a compelling voice in the transformation of our country,” he said.

Suggestively, the President asked politicians to soul search on their role in spreading the virus by holding large gatherings during which no Covid-19 protocols are adhered to.

At a lone press conference from his Karen office in April, Ruto said it was in order for him and President Uhuru Kenyatta to avoid attending same meetings in times of a health pandemic.

Defending his absence from the President’s side, the DP said he has been in constant communication with his boss and the relevant ministries.

“In matters of communication of the government, we are encouraging teleconferencing to avoid physical meetings.

You may want to know that many meetings involving ministers are being carried over the phone,” said the DP.

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