Deputy President William Ruto could be surviving on borrowed time in government — and his survival within Jubilee Party in now in doubt — if fresh details of a plot to cut him to size by 2022 are anything to go by.
As the divorce in the ruling party gets noisy and messy, the Nation has learnt of secret plans to block him from ascending to power and force him into Opposition come 2022.
At the moment, the Ruto camp is on tenterhooks after President Uhuru Kenyatta took over the shaping and running of the party in a calculated move to push his deputy’s supporters into a political lockdown. Slowly, President Kenyatta’s men are deflating the Ruto camp.
In the grand scheme, multiple sources say, the current Opposition, led by ODM’s Raila Odinga, Gideon Moi (Kanu), Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper) and others, will first join or work with President Kenyatta’s government ahead of 2022 and as part of Kenyatta’s succession plan.
Within this plan is the support of the planned referendum, which is fronted as part of the changes championed by the Building Bridges Initiative.
In this position, according to multiple sources within the government, Mr Odinga and his colleagues will go to poll as “insiders in government”, with State machinery at their disposal during campaigns, thus locking out Dr Ruto.
With the DP as an ‘outsider’ in his own government, he will finish his race for State House at a disadvantage, effectively becoming the leader of Opposition, according to sources close to the scheme.
The first step, according to our sources, is to stage the DP out and keep him in the dark in day-to-day running of government over alleged “open defiance against the Head of State and being overambitious”.
The DP has been absent during key State House meetings and has not been attending Security Council talks.
More so, his allies in government, those in the Senate National Assembly and parastatals, are targeted.
But Jubilee Secretary-General Raphael Tuju said their working with other parties is not meant to exclude anybody but premised on “uniting the country”.
“When the President shook hands with the ODM leader, his sole purpose was to bring this country together. We all know the problem that has bedevilled us and we cannot afford to be disunited going forward,” Mr Tuju said.
By reaching out to the opposition, President Kenyatta hopes for a smooth running of the government during the remaining part of his tenure and also plan his succession.
The coalition in the offing will see Mr Kenyatta get new support — in the Senate and National Assembly — in the execution of government business.
The Senate was previously in the hands of a Ruto die hard, Kipchumba Murkomen, now dethroned.
The Head of State has committed to a coalition agreement with Kanu, and impeccable sources in ODM have also confided in the Nation that the Orange party is also headed towards that direction.
But whether ODM will leave the Nasa coalition to join another coalition is not clear.
Senate Minority Leader James Orengo let the cat out of the bag last week when he said they had finalised plans to force the DP out of Government.
“I want to tell Tangatanga that if you think we in ODM want to join government, that is your problem. You will leave, even if we join government or not. We have planned it; you will leave,” Mr Orengo said.
A senior ODM official who attended the party’s Central Committee meeting at Chungwa House in Nairobi last week said the issue of working with President Kenyatta arose, but maintained the details were too sensitive to divulge to the media.
“We did raise it because, for instance, the issue of coalition is manifesting seriously, sometimes from unexpected quarters,” the official said.
“Mkubwa’s (Mr Odinga’s) response was that working with Jubilee is real. He said we can work all the way and when it comes to, for example, government appointments, it should not be a problem for us because we’re working together courtesy of the 2018 handshake.”
Mr Odinga, the source said, directed his inner circle to be “ready to work with the government towards the recovery of the economy” post-Covid-19.
“He looked at it as a situation whereby a team can be constituted to revive the economy and leadership,” he said.
Political analyst Herman Manyora notes the relationship between President Kenyatta and opposition parties is already crystal clear.
“The game plan is simple and straightforward: bring together all the political bigwigs, the tribal and regional leadership. This way you isolate Ruto. Next, attack, finish or scare his lieutenants. There will be no opposition in 2022,” Mr Manyora told the Nation Sunday.
Political analyst Javas Bigambo said the DP is on the chopping board. “Mr Odinga and Mr Kenyatta are executing a major scheme to stop Ruto’s ambitions,” he told the Nation.
Mr Odinga, Mr Bigambo noted, will be at the centre of the coalition of parties, and that will be DP Ruto’s waterloo.
“From the look of things, Ruto is already becoming a possible leader of opposition after the 2022 elections,” Mr Bigambo said.
It is in the pending State appointments that President Kenyatta will start to reach out to the bigger coalition. Sources say it is a matter of time.