Why DP Ruto is eating his cake and having it
Deputy President William Ruto splits opinion on his politics and the way of conducting it.
To his supporters, he is the salve that will sooth the vagaries of inequality and address the plight of hustlers.
However, to President Uhuru Kenyatta and his allies, he is an unwanted guest who will not just leave.
The President seems to have found himself with arms tied on how to deal with his rebellious deputy.
Although the Political Parties Act provides that a member of a political party should be deemed to have resigned if he or she promotes the ideology of another political party, kicking out the DP from Jubilee has become a tall order.
Barring Ruto resigning as deputy president and deputy party leader, Jubilee officials and Uhuru’s allies seem to have thrown in the towel, only asking Kenyans to make the right choice.
A recent press conference by the Jubilee Secretary General Raphael Tuju exposed the soft underbelly of the party when handling Ruto.
Whereas Tuju accused the DP of many things, including blackmailing the President, tribalism, lies and amassing questionable wealth, he ended the address with a whimper, asking the country to be aware who they are dealing with.
“I would like to appeal to my brother here and a few others asking the Deputy President to resign, please stop wasting your breath.
He will not resign, he is not that type of a person. Let us concentrate on 2022,” Tuju said.
Speaking to senior editors two weeks ago, the President said the conscience of his deputy should push him out of government.
He told Ruto to step aside if he does not agree with his administration’s way of doing things.
“It would be an honourable thing that if you are not happy, you would step aside and allow those who want to move on to move on and take your agenda to the people.
This is what happens in any democracy because you cannot have your cake and eat it,” said the President.
He addd: “You cannot on one hand say I’m not going and at the same time I don’t agree.
You have to decide because you must be principled in that endeavour. That’s what happens in a democracy so that you don’t confuse people.
On one hand, you want to sing the praises of a government and you want to ride on them, but on the other side of your mouth, you are speaking a different language.”
But in response, Ruto declared that he won’t resign, saying he had helped Uhuru to ride to power.
“I have no space to retreat and I don’t have the luxury of surrendering. I helped Raila (Odinga) in 2007 until he became prime minister.
I have also helped my friend Uhuru until he became the president. Now I have said I assist the hustlers, why are they angry at me, where is the problem?” he posed.
Political analyst and lecturer at the United States International University (USIU)-Africa Prof Munene Macharia compares the Ruto issue in Uhuru’s situation to a hot potato that one has swallowed accidentally.
“The Constitution ties the President’s hands, in that he cannot fire his rebellious deputy.
And he finds it difficult using the impeachment route since he may not raise the numbers in the National Assembly to kick him out,” says Macharia.
In the current Constitution, the deputy president is the president’s principal assistant and performs functions assigned to him by the Head of State.
Under the previous Constitution, the president had a free hand to hire and fire the vice president.
Article 150 of the 2010 Constitution gives grounds for the removal of a DP as being physical or mental incapacity to perform the functions of the office, or impeachment. He can also be removed if found guilty of gross violation of the Constitution.
For impeachment to succeed, the motion must be supported by at least two-thirds of the members of the House, in this case at least 233 members.
“This route is quite difficult given the current polarised political environment where the DP is also enjoying the support of a sizeable number of MPs, including those from the President’s backyard,” says Macharia.
He says that, like the United States, the candidate for president and deputy run tied as a team.
Earlier in the year, attempts by Jubilee’s National Management Committee to kick out Ruto as deputy party leader failed after the National Executive Council (NEC), under the chairmanship of Uhuru, rejected the plan.
“Ideally, Ruto should honourably quit the government since he feels dissatisfied with its performance. But his determination to stay put leaves the President helpless.
It is quite an unprecedented situation that the country has found itself in,” Prof George Wajackoya, a lawyer says.
Divisions are also said to have emerged within Jubilee and among the President’s allies on the manner in which Ruto should be dealt with.
While a section of Uhuru’s inner circle has voiced opposition to hard tackle against Ruto, arguing that it depicts him as a victim, thus giving political mileage, there are those who think the DP should not be treated with kid gloves due to his revolt.
The former group believes the government should not give Ruto too much attention by interfering with his campaigns and allies as that emboldens him politically.
On Monday, National Assembly Majority Leader Amos Kimunya said the expectation in a civilised world is for people to believe in the rule of law.
“What kind of responsibility should people take when their services are not available to the nation or are no longer required?
The Political Parties Act is very clear. When you belong to one political party, you cannot promote the interests of another.
You are actually deemed to have resigned from the first party. That is the law,” said Kimunya.
He went on: “For a person at the level of a deputy party leader; who is also the Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya; who took the bible and swore to uphold the law and uphold the Constitution, it is very unfortunate.
That somebody will continue living a lie promoting another party but deriving benefits from being a member of Jubilee.
“The decent thing would be for a person who believes in decency to say, now that I have moved to my party UDA, I hereby tender my resignation as a member of Jubilee and as deputy president.
“We saw that happen with the first Vice President of this country Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and I did it myself when I was Finance minister when some issues were raised.”