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How Uhuru Blindfolded, Disarmed Ruto

 

“Appear weak when you are strong and strong when you are weak,” is a governance principle extolled by Sun Tzu, the famed Chinese war strategist, which best captures Mr Uhuru Kenyatta’s cleverly camouflaged demeanour over the past seven years as the Head of State.

 

Indeed, this is a philosophy the leader of the ruling Jubilee Party seems to have embraced over the time; one that seriously wrong-footed his political lieutenants, including Deputy President William Ruto.

 

And judging from the way political events are fast unfolding, they may well have played into President Kenyatta’s net.

 

In the words of Elgeyo-Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, who was on Tuesday kicked out of the plum position of majority leader, if anyone would have suggested to members of Jubilee Party that the president and his deputy would part ways or that some among them would be relieved of parliamentary responsibilities, “I would have denied, denied and denied. But the reality is already out there in the public (domain), and we have to accept and adapt accordingly”.

 

UHURU TAUNTED

 

The utter shock exhibited by politicians allied to the DP partly stems from the fact that they had underestimated the political astuteness of the president and his ability to exact revenge, as well as the notion that he was a laid-back leader engrossed more in the good things of life than rolling up his sleeves to fight back and play dirty.

“My friend, we lost this thing out of our sheer arrogance and underestimation of Uhuru’s political capacity,” a Rift Valley politician allied to the DP, who pleaded for anonymity for fear of political reprisals, observed.

 

“With parliamentary numbers on our side as well as most party officials, we were confident that our man was in charge of the situation. We were also persuaded that Uhuru was easy to manipulate because he was weak, indifferent and loved his occasional drink,” the politician confided in this writer.

 

Last year, Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri, a fiery critic of the president, challenged him to dare the DP at the poll if he thought he was popular.

 

“If President Uhuru Kenyatta is tired of leading this country, he should immediately call for fresh elections so that we can end this political rumour-mongering,” he said.

 

This, according to our source, is the kind of thinking among the DP’s backers, who have all along regarded the president as a mere beneficiary of Ruto’s political agility and steadfastness.

 

In fact, the Jubilee senators who on Monday snubbed the party’s parliamentary meeting called by Mr Kenyatta may have felt secure in the belief that the president was helpless. At least five nominated senators have now been served with expulsion notices.

 

CUNNINGLY WEAK

 

Coupled with previous instances where the president allegedly demonstrated an uncaring attitude by entrusting junior officers with weighty and sensitive national duties, “including drawing up lists for national commendations where we ended up awarding a githeri-eating voter with a coveted Head of State Commendation”, Team Ruto was indeed convinced Mr Kenyatta was an easy impediment to deal with.

 

Judging the president’s character based on idiosyncratic variables, which portray him as a cunningly weak leader, a conflict resolution and peace-building expert observes that Mr Kenyatta pretends to be weak and plays along when his deputy seemingly outsmarts him on a public podium.

 

“He appears withdrawn from the so-called system, which he actually controls and even allows his principal assistant to act as president and sit on his chair in his official office. This can surely be disarming and confusing to many,” reacts Dr George Katete.

 

Describing Ruto as a “strong character” and Kenyatta as “cunningly weak”, Dr Katete, who teaches at the University of Nairobi, explains that the Kenyatta-Ruto political partnership enjoyed chemistry because of their differences in character – “meaning both were dependent on each other, with the president seeking to use Ruto’s strong character to deal with a stubborn opposition and the DP hoping to capitalise on Kenyatta’s apparent weak character to secure his own political future”.

 

According to Dr Katete, Ruto is a political student of ODM leader Raila Odinga, with regard to the “tough and never-say-die” character.

 

EARLY CAMPAIGNS

 

Dr Ruto, he opines, has over the years been learning from the former prime minister and is fully aware of the pitfalls of a strong character.

 

“However, he thought he was going to do better than Raila, convinced that he had captured the instruments of political and economic power, courtesy of his position as DP,” observes the political scientist.

 

Nyeri Town MP Wambugu Ngunjiri attributes the cracks within Jubilee to the belief among the DP’s supporters that the president lacked the political capacity to counter the onslaught against him.

 

In fact, according to Mr Wambugu, the president was initially committed to working with his deputy but changed after the DP refused to stop premature presidential campaigns.

 

Alive to the pressure piling on the president, Jubilee Vice-Chairman David Murathe says they started plotting to arrest the situation.

 

However the president’s handlers had to move with speed, “following complaints that we were delaying in acting”.

 

Team Ruto may have been hit by the surprise factor, but as Mr Murkomen says, they are not yet caged.

 

The journey ahead remains slippery and depending on how the president handles the cobbling of what Murathe calls “an even bigger new house”, the DP remains strategically placed to reap from the spoils.

 

Now to consolidate results of his purge, President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday gave the clearest indication yet that he is crafting a team that will carry his mantle come 2022, telling the Tangatanga brigade to take a walk if all they want to do is politic and cause divisions in the country.

 

Coming days before he rewards his new-found allies — Kanu, Wiper, CCM and ODM — with National Assembly committee seats, the President told off his critics in Jubilee Party, saying he will only work with leaders who support his agenda.

 

Uncharacteristically, the Deputy President did not make a speech even after the President asked him whether he had something to say.

 

In a bare-knuckled, no-holds-barred address to Jubilee MPs, the President said: “Hii mbio haiwezi wafikisha mahali. You must learn to be patient. Leaders should be appreciated and respected because of what they stand for, how they articulate their agenda and what they have done for the people, but not in peddling lies and causing public confusion. I’m ready to discharge those against my agenda so that you can concentrate on other things and leave me to fulfil my agenda.”

 

FINAL ACT

 

Monday’s Parliamentary Group meeting was the final act in the recent purge that has seen allies of Deputy President William Ruto, with the senior most member in the National Assembly, Mr Aden Duale, being replaced as the leader of majority. In naming Kipipiri MP Amos Kimunya the new Jubilee boss, the President was clear he would not spare anybody in his resolve to shape his legacy.

 

In a twitter message Mr Duale said:

@HonAdenDuale

“I came, I saw and I conquered.

 

Today marks the end of my seven years of service to the great people of Kenya as the Leader of Majority of the National Assembly. I was the first occupant of the seat under article 108 of the constitution.”

“Appear weak when you are strong and strong when you are weak,” is a governance principle extolled by Sun Tzu, the famed Chinese war strategist, which best captures Mr Uhuru Kenyatta’s cleverly camouflaged demeanour over the past seven years as the Head of State.

 

Indeed, this is a philosophy the leader of the ruling Jubilee Party seems to have embraced over the time; one that seriously wrong-footed his political lieutenants, including Deputy President William Ruto.

 

And judging from the way political events are fast unfolding, they may well have played into President Kenyatta’s net.

 

In the words of Elgeyo-Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, who was on Tuesday kicked out of the plum position of majority leader, if anyone would have suggested to members of Jubilee Party that the president and his deputy would part ways or that some among them would be relieved of parliamentary responsibilities, “I would have denied, denied and denied. But the reality is already out there in the public (domain), and we have to accept and adapt accordingly”.

 

UHURU TAUNTED

 

The utter shock exhibited by politicians allied to the DP partly stems from the fact that they had underestimated the political astuteness of the president and his ability to exact revenge, as well as the notion that he was a laid-back leader engrossed more in the good things of life than rolling up his sleeves to fight back and play dirty.

“My friend, we lost this thing out of our sheer arrogance and underestimation of Uhuru’s political capacity,” a Rift Valley politician allied to the DP, who pleaded for anonymity for fear of political reprisals, observed.

 

“With parliamentary numbers on our side as well as most party officials, we were confident that our man was in charge of the situation. We were also persuaded that Uhuru was easy to manipulate because he was weak, indifferent and loved his occasional drink,” the politician confided in this writer.

 

Last year, Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri, a fiery critic of the president, challenged him to dare the DP at the poll if he thought he was popular.

 

“If President Uhuru Kenyatta is tired of leading this country, he should immediately call for fresh elections so that we can end this political rumour-mongering,” he said.

 

This, according to our source, is the kind of thinking among the DP’s backers, who have all along regarded the president as a mere beneficiary of Ruto’s political agility and steadfastness.

 

In fact, the Jubilee senators who on Monday snubbed the party’s parliamentary meeting called by Mr Kenyatta may have felt secure in the belief that the president was helpless. At least five nominated senators have now been served with expulsion notices.

 

CUNNINGLY WEAK

 

Coupled with previous instances where the president allegedly demonstrated an uncaring attitude by entrusting junior officers with weighty and sensitive national duties, “including drawing up lists for national commendations where we ended up awarding a githeri-eating voter with a coveted Head of State Commendation”, Team Ruto was indeed convinced Mr Kenyatta was an easy impediment to deal with.

 

Judging the president’s character based on idiosyncratic variables, which portray him as a cunningly weak leader, a conflict resolution and peace-building expert observes that Mr Kenyatta pretends to be weak and plays along when his deputy seemingly outsmarts him on a public podium.

 

“He appears withdrawn from the so-called system, which he actually controls and even allows his principal assistant to act as president and sit on his chair in his official office. This can surely be disarming and confusing to many,” reacts Dr George Katete.

 

Describing Ruto as a “strong character” and Kenyatta as “cunningly weak”, Dr Katete, who teaches at the University of Nairobi, explains that the Kenyatta-Ruto political partnership enjoyed chemistry because of their differences in character – “meaning both were dependent on each other, with the president seeking to use Ruto’s strong character to deal with a stubborn opposition and the DP hoping to capitalise on Kenyatta’s apparent weak character to secure his own political future”.

 

According to Dr Katete, Ruto is a political student of ODM leader Raila Odinga, with regard to the “tough and never-say-die” character.

 

EARLY CAMPAIGNS

 

Dr Ruto, he opines, has over the years been learning from the former prime minister and is fully aware of the pitfalls of a strong character.

 

“However, he thought he was going to do better than Raila, convinced that he had captured the instruments of political and economic power, courtesy of his position as DP,” observes the political scientist.

 

Nyeri Town MP Wambugu Ngunjiri attributes the cracks within Jubilee to the belief among the DP’s supporters that the president lacked the political capacity to counter the onslaught against him.

 

In fact, according to Mr Wambugu, the president was initially committed to working with his deputy but changed after the DP refused to stop premature presidential campaigns.

 

Alive to the pressure piling on the president, Jubilee Vice-Chairman David Murathe says they started plotting to arrest the situation.

 

However the president’s handlers had to move with speed, “following complaints that we were delaying in acting”.

 

Team Ruto may have been hit by the surprise factor, but as Mr Murkomen says, they are not yet caged.

 

The journey ahead remains slippery and depending on how the president handles the cobbling of what Murathe calls “an even bigger new house”, the DP remains strategically placed to reap from the spoils.

 

Now to consolidate results of his purge, President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday gave the clearest indication yet that he is crafting a team that will carry his mantle come 2022, telling the Tangatanga brigade to take a walk if all they want to do is politic and cause divisions in the country.

 

Coming days before he rewards his new-found allies — Kanu, Wiper, CCM and ODM — with National Assembly committee seats, the President told off his critics in Jubilee Party, saying he will only work with leaders who support his agenda.

 

Uncharacteristically, the Deputy President did not make a speech even after the President asked him whether he had something to say.

 

In a bare-knuckled, no-holds-barred address to Jubilee MPs, the President said: “Hii mbio haiwezi wafikisha mahali. You must learn to be patient. Leaders should be appreciated and respected because of what they stand for, how they articulate their agenda and what they have done for the people, but not in peddling lies and causing public confusion. I’m ready to discharge those against my agenda so that you can concentrate on other things and leave me to fulfil my agenda.”

 

FINAL ACT

 

Monday’s Parliamentary Group meeting was the final act in the recent purge that has seen allies of Deputy President William Ruto, with the senior most member in the National Assembly, Mr Aden Duale, being replaced as the leader of majority. In naming Kipipiri MP Amos Kimunya the new Jubilee boss, the President was clear he would not spare anybody in his resolve to shape his legacy.

 

In a twitter message Mr Duale said:

@HonAdenDuale

“I came, I saw and I conquered.

 

Today marks the end of my seven years of service to the great people of Kenya as the Leader of Majority of the National Assembly. I was the first occupant of the seat under article 108 of the constitution.”

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