UhuRuto split plays out at Nyachae burial

Tuesday, February 16th, 2021 09:33 |

The fallout between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto was clearly visible in their first public appearance together yesterday since they went for each other’s throats last week.

Unlike in previous instances when the two could be seen constantly consulting, cracking jokes and exchanging pleasantries whenever they appeared at any public gathering together, the President seemed to have no time for his deputy during yesterday’s occasion.

In place of the previous displays of camaraderie were occasional cold glances as the duo followed proceedings at the funeral service of the late Cabinet minister Simeon Nyachae at the Gusii stadium.

When they took to the podium to address mourners, they both avoided politics. While Ruto appeared to concentrate on the speeches and staring at the booklet containing the day’s programme during the three-hour service, President Uhuru Kenyatta would occasionally gesture in the direction of his handshake partner Raila Odinga and other guests seated next to him, completely ignoring his deputy.

Save for the moment when the President greeted his deputy upon arrival at the funeral service, the two occupied themselves with their own respective issues during the entire ceremony.

Yesterday’s was a culmination of a simmering cold war between the president and his deputy over the last couple of months during which the former has gone flat out to secure his legacy while the latter has concentrated on his countrywide tours to sell the hustler narrative.

And last week, the president for the first time publicly took on his deputy, telling him to resign from the government instead of fighting it from within. A day later, an unbowed Ruto hit back, vowing not to step down and instead to serve until the end of his term.

Yesterday, when he was accorded an opportunity to address the mourners, Ruto recounted how he was probably the only person among the few politicians to test Mzee Nyachae’s wrath.

This even as Raila also narrated his dramatic fallout with the late Mzee Nyachae in the run-up to the 2002 General Election. But it was not all sombre as Kennedy Nyachae threw in humour as he eulogised his father.

Narrating how he once locked car keys in a vehicle an incident that infuriated the then Central Provincial Commissioner, Kennedy said he (Nyachae) could not wait for his car to come to a complete halt before jumping out and unleashing blows on the young man. “I was dispatched to Nyeri in a Landrover.

I had to seat among goats,” he said. “Dad was a hardworking man. The hardest working man I’ve ever known. He’s someone that we all, as his children, try to emulate,” said his son Moses Nyachae.

Moses painted a picture of the fit, play ful, family man and father figure that was Simeon Nyachae. “For dad, dinner time was family time,” he added. “If guests wanted to stay for dinner, they were welcome, but dad didn’t go out in the evenings.” Angela Nyachae said her father cared about how they lived and related with each other.

Whenever there was a problem, he would call them all and advise them on how to handle it. He also held their opinions with high regard. “Dad loved his girls. He never treated us differently. He instilled discipline in us and he didn’t favour anyone, whether you are a boy or a girl,” Mary said.

Grace Nyachae, Simeon Nyachae’s wife, who urged her children to remain united as a family, and called on men to invest in their wives. Addressing the mourners, Ruto described Nyachae as a stickler to the law who had no qualms unleashing the cane to those who fell afoul of his ways.

“As Michael Nyachae read Mzee’s eulogy, he did not mention the list of people who become victims or beneficiaries of Mzee Nyachae’s cane, because he ran the risk of including me in that list. I think it is an appropriate moment for a confession, apart from the blows and other measures that were meted on his immediate family, he did not spare some of us in politics, he made sure we walked the straight and narrow path.”

“I remember very well in Nyamarambe, Omingo Magara and myself misbehaved… Michael (Nyachae’s son) did not say this because he’s the one Mzee actually sent to collect the cane…na hapo tulipata kuadhibiwa,” he said, revisiting an incident at Nyamarambe in Kisii county in the run up to the 2007 election when he and former MP Omingo Magara were attacked by youths armed with bows and arrows in Nyachae’s presence.

The youths were believed to have been acting at Nyachae’s behest. Following the attack, he and Magara later looked for Nyachae and begged for forgiveness.

“He did not tell us to go to the office but he told us to go home, mama Grace Nyachae is our witness, we went to his home seeking to be forgiven,” he said, describing the former politician as a gracious mentor and father.

Raila traced the fallout to his last-minute decision to endorse Mwai Kibaki, as the united opposition’s presidential candidate during a historic political rally at Uhuru Park in September, 2002.

“As LDP and Ford People, we formed rainbow alliance, we teamed with NAK headed by Mwai Kibaki, Kijana Wamalwa and Charity Ngilu, to form NARC,” he said.

“After lengthy discussions at Serena Hotel, I put the question, we want to come out of this meeting with one candidate, because KANU was in Kasarani and we knew they were to announce Uhuru Kenyatta as their candidate, I told them, him let’s agree we can only have one candidate as announce theirs in Kasarani we also announce ours at Uhuru but nobody was willing to budge,” Raila said.

“I said I am pulling out myself, who will follow me, nobody was willing to do so, that is why when we went to Uhuru park, I said Kibaki Tosha, of course it did not go well with my brother Nyachae,” the ODM leader added.

Uhuru in his speech described the late Nyachae as an honest and dignified man. He stated that the late Nyachae expected of others what he expected from himself.

“What he told us to do is what he himself did. We not stand here to talk of a person who used to talk to people and do the opposite, no, what he told us to do he did it himself, that is the manner he lived his life.” On a personal level, the President recalled how he (Nyachae) always had wise words for him whenever he sought advice.

“His impact in my life shall never be lost, just like his vision for this country, shall never be forgotten,” he said. ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi and his Wiper counterpart Kalonzo Musyoka described Nyachae as a leader who let his actions speak for him.

“This is a fellow that other ministers called SIR! It is even rumoured that when he was Chief Secretary he would call a PC or a Permanent Secretary on phone, he would stand to speak with him because he was not sure he was watching him,” the ANC leader said. “Nyachae was very authoritative and a true believer in meritocracy,” Kalonzo said.

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