Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua tops the list of people Deputy President William Ruto’s allies claim are plotting against the DP’s 2022 bid.
Ruto supporters told the Star in multiple interviews yesterday that apart from Kinyua, State House Controller Kinuthia Mbugua and the Interior PS Karanja Kibicho were working behind the scenes to frustrate Ruto’s bid to take over from President Uhuru Kenyatta.
By 7pm last night, Kinyua, Mbugua and Kibichu had not returned calls or responded to texts from the Star seeking comment.
At the weekend, Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa, one of Ruto’s loyal foot soldiers from Mount Kenya, said Ruto’s ICC adversaries were regrouping to fight him.
“The same cartel that took you to the ICC, we want to serve them notice today…if we genuinely support Uhuru Kenyatta, we must support you [Ruto] to continue furthering the Jubilee agenda,” he said.
Also named in the anti-Ruto scheme were Jubilee vice chairman David Murathe and Uhuru’s ex-political adviser Nancy Gitau.
Gitau was among tens of high-profile civil servants Ruto said ‘fixed’ him at the ICC in 2013. She did not answer calls or respond to text messages on the matter. The case against Ruto collapsed.
Two weeks ago, Senate Majority leader Kipchumba Murkomen claimed in a prime-time interview on Citizen TV that influential civil servants were using their offices to influence policy and divide Jubilee.
“There is an actual existence of people who work in the Office of the President who are busy supporting an agenda to divide the President and his Deputy…Unfortunately, because these people have a responsibility on policy direction of government. We have a situation where things like policy on lifestyle audit are announced without the knowledge of anybody governing Jubilee,” Murkomen said.
Politician Simon Mbugua had alluded to a powerful team calling itself ‘Putin’, which he claimed was supporting calls for a referendum on restructuring and broadening the Executive, as part of a scheme to shortchange Ruto.
The head of state and his deputy are said to have held a crisis meeting on Friday last week to address the differences threatening to tear apart Jubilee.
The impact of the meeting is not yet clear but Ruto abruptly changed his tone and publicly asked politicians to stop 2022 politicking.
Sources told the Star yesterday that Ruto’s associates are increasingly getting jittery about ODM leader Raila Odinga and his intentions about the presidency in four years.
“When Raila Odinga has taken public office to become an envoy at the regional level because it was part of the bargain [March 9 handshake, cooperation accord], he should be honest with people about whether he still wants to run for election or not,” Murkomen said.
However, reached for a comment yesterday, Murathe said he was unaware of any grouping that is scheming against the Deputy President.
“I am not aware of any team plotting to scuttle DP Ruto’s bid in 2022,” Murathe told the Star.
Murathe, a former Gatanga MP, is said to be a close friend of Muhoho Kenyatta, the President’s younger brother.
On Friday, he fired a warning salvo at Jubilee leaders opposed to the President’s directives about fighting corruption, including a lifestyle audit.
“It would be in the best interest of the DP to keep the party together and the noise from part of his corner is not helping his cause. The party supports everything the President is doing, including the handshake, fighting corruption and the lifestyle audit, and anyone fighting these initiatives is not a friend of Jubilee,” Murathe said.
Naming Uhuru’s family members and most trusted advisers as part of a plot to undermine Ruto could be the clearest signal the the relationship between Uhuru and Ruto is reaching the point of no-return.
The first family is said to favour Baringo Senator Gideon Moi for the top job in 2022. Ruto and Gideon, the Kanu party leader, are fierce rivals for the Rift Valley vote.
Gideon threw his weight behind Uhuru — but not Ruto — at the last minute in the 2017 polls, against the NASA machine.
It took a meeting between former First Lady Mama Ngina Kenyatta and retired President Daniel Moi for Kanu to back Uhuru at a time when the Independence Party was gravitating towards the opposition.
The simmering disquiet in Jubilee burst into the last week.
Thorny issues of a split and who’s undermining the DP are expected to feature in Jubilee’s Parliamentary Group meeting planned for this week. It is intended calm the storm buffeting Jubilee and threatening to tear apart the ruling party.
Also likely to be discussed is the disquiet among Ruto’s allies with the handshake, amid concerns that Raila was getting too cosy with the President.
Uhuru heads to Raila’s Nyanza backyard this months in a trip loaded with political symbolism.
But yesterday, Majority leader in the National Assembly Aden Duale told the Star the PG meeting is yet to be confirmed.
“I have to confirm from my bosses. I can give the correct position later,” Duale said when reached for a comment.
Cherangany MP Joshua Kutuny also said he had not received an invite to a meeting but said it was necessary.
“It’s long overdue because a lot has been happening and we need to put our house in order. It’s unfortunate that the party has left it to the President to be handling these matters. I think the party should be tasked to call frequent PGs where members raise issues of common concern,” Kutuny told the Star.
According to him, the meeting should give direction and help steady the party, saying Jubilee leaders in the Senate and in the National Assembly are behaving like opposition chiefs.
“I am looking to three things. One is putting the house in order so we can be talking through our structures. Secondly, I would like to hear about re-affirmation and commitment to the handshake, and lastly about the lifestyle audit,” Kutuny said.
Yesterday Ruto once again defended his countrywide tours, saying he was pushing the country’s unity and development.
Ruto said the government will pursue national unity and initiate projects that transforming people’s lives, adding they will not be distracted by leaders with no agenda.
He said yesterday that the government’s transformative agenda and the unity of all Kenyans that started in 2013 was yielding fruits, citing progress in health, water, infrastructure, energy and education sectors.
Ruto spoke at St Thomas Moore Kairuri Catholic Church and Anglican Church of Kenya, Kianjokoma parish, in Embu county. He said Jubilee was formed in 2013 with the aim of eliminating politics based on tribalism by bringing all ethnic communities together.
“I want to assure Kenyans that we are united, as the time for politics and elections is over. The debt that we have to the people of Kenya as leaders is to serve them,” added Mr Ruto.
Present were Health CS Sicily Kariuki, Embu Governor Martin Wambora, Senate Deputy Speaker Kithure Kindiki, MPs Njeru Ndwiga (Embu), Gitonga Murugara (Tharaka), Patrick Munene (Chuka Igamba’ngombe), Geoffrey King’ang’i (Mbeere South), Peter Muriuki (Mbeere North), Joseph Muchiri (Runyenjes) and Jane Wanjiku (Woman Rep, Embu). -STAR