Ruto: Why I’ve avoided war with Uhuru despite humiliation

DP tears into Uhuru’s track record, saying the first term was productive, the second wasted

Deputy President William Ruto has said he has avoided a public confrontation with President Uhuru Kenyatta despite countless humiliations and his roles as an elected leader being taken away.

In an exclusive interview with Radio Jambo on Tuesday, Ruto said if he were a greedy leader, he would be engaged in a public showdown with the President to fight for his roles given by law.

“Kawaida, kama ni mtu mwenye pupa, mimi ningeleta makelele makubwa kwa sababu mimi nimechaguliwa kama naibu wa rais (If I were a greedy leader I would have made a lot of noise because I am an elected deputy president),” Ruto stated.

Speaking on Radio Africa’s biggest Kiswahili radio station by listenership, Radio Jambo, Ruto lifted the lid on how his relationship with President Kenyatta crumbled after the 2017 polls.

The DP said some of the humiliations he has faced in his own government cannot be discussed on air.

“I would have raised dust that my roles have been taken…there are many things that I cannot discuss on air that have been done to humiliate me. But in respect of leadership and my friend, the President, I have never said anything, I have never attacked the President,” Ruto stated.

People would have expected me to fight, the DP said.

“Why is he not fighting? Why is he not protesting?” Ruto said. He did not disclose the humiliations.

The DP claimed the “selective” graft war was well choreographed to paint him as a corrupt person, target his associates and isolate them from the government. Meanwhile, his opponents worked to stop his presidential bid.

“There are people who had planned [my downfall] after the 2017 polls. Take, for instance, the graft war. It was not mentioned in the first term. It was said after the 2017 polls so all this propaganda would be released to paint me as corrupt as they planned the 2022 succession,” Ruto said.

Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji has said all the prosecutions approved since he took over in 2018 were based on the evidence presented by investigating agencies.

Previously Uhuru has declared that he will not hand over power to a “thief”, in what was seen as thinly veiled reference to Ruto.

Ruto said people with deep-seated selfish interests schemed to shove him away from the running of government immediately after Jubilee was re-elected. This was despite his contribution to the government’s performance in the first five years.

“We did a good job with the President in 2013. The projects that will form part of the President’s legacy were all undertaken during our first term, like the standard gauge railway and roads,” Ruto said.

The performance was impressive between 2013 and 2017, the DP said.

He dismissed the President’s track record in the second term, saying the priorities are wrong and the past four years have been wasted.

“Reggae, BBI, kubadilisha katiba ndio tumefanya kwa miaka 4 iliyopita… Wale walituambia hii serikali haijafanya kitu, sasa hivi wanang’ang’ania, karibu wapigane kuona miradi ambayo mimi na rais tumefanya,” Ruto said.

He was referring to the Nasa chiefs of Raila Odinga and Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka who have been working with Uhuru.

This is in stark contradiction to the President’s own view that he has been able to achieve a lot during his second term while he has been working with Raila.

The DP avoided directly referring to the President as among the schemers of his downfall.

He said whatever legacy the President has as he retires next year was sealed in their first term.

The second term, Ruto said, was hijacked by the handshake and its proponents whom he accused of stalling the second phase of Jubilee’s economic take-off.

The DP said the persecution of his allies through “trumped up” graft charges and their being kicked out of the party and the government was schemed by his detractors to “cut me down to size”.

“Many people have been instilled with fear that if you make a move in this [my] direction, we [the Jubilee government] will launch a case against you, we will send DCI officials to your doorstep,” Ruto said.

The Deputy President highlighted the heightened anti-graft purge that followed President Kenyatta’s 2017 aggressive policy on corruption.

He said his worst fears that the onslaught was political have come to pass, as most cases have stalled.

“Tell me, where did the Kamatakamata Friday go?” the DP asked. He was referring to the multi-agency operations and arrests on Friday hat became the order of the day after 2018. Courts are closed on weekends, so those arrested spend uncomfortable weekends in remand.

The graft purge claimed most of the DP’s most trusted allies in government, including then Treasury CS Henry Rotich who, among a section of parastatal chiefs, were hounded out of office over corruption allegations.

“It (the Kamatakamat Friday) was the talk of the day then but there is no single case that is going on because they were all political,” Ruto said.

He went on, “The arrests were highly publicised and those arrested were associated to Ruto so that I would be portrayed as corrupt as if a billion shillings was pocket change to disappear like that.”

He said most of the cases cannot proceed and Kenyans will be surprised to find out the Kimwarer and Arror dams scandals were all political.

“Until this time, the government has not cancelled the contracts and the cases have stalled,” Ruto said of the two Sh63 billion dams drama that consumed his top allies from government.

Ruto said he had previously agreed with the President that as government they would empower the independent institutions charged with the anti-corruption war to do professional work.

But the process later took a political trajectory, he said.

The DP expressed regret that his opponents in the 2022 presidential contest are using the criminal justice system to settle political wars, compromising the elusive crackdown on mega graft.

“I follow the law and I want anybody who has stolen from the government taken to court so Kenyans can get justice,” Ruto said.

“What I cannot accept is to use the graft war to fight political battles.”

He went on, “If you want to fight me, let us compete on policies and ideas but do not use the agencies to fight me politically.”

The DP has been on the defensive, fighting graft-related allegations especially those associated with his allies.

Raila has threatened to jail the corrupt if elected President in 2022.

And in a bare-knuckle tackle at Raila, Ruto accused him of hypocrisy saying although the ODM boss has promised to send the corrupt to jail in 2022, he has offered political shelter to graft suspects.

“He [Raila] says he will jail the corrupt and yet he is the defender of the Covid-19 millionaire thieves who enriched themselves,” the DP said.

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