SAD: Uhuru Kenyatta, Ruto Rift Deepens As DP Skips Moi Event

President Uhuru Kenyatta (right) during the memorial ceremony of former President Daniel Toroitich arap Moi in Kabarak, Nakuru County, pn February 4, 2021. PHOTO/PSCU

NAIROBI, Kenya{SHIFTMEDIA} The frosty relations between President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto continue to deteriorate with the second-in-command now notably absent in many events attended by his boss.

Their fallout was amplified yesterday when Mr Ruto skipped an event to commemorate the first anniversary of the death of former President Daniel Toroitich arap Moi despite his name being on the programme.

It was the first major public event since the President’s four-day retreat last week to Mt Kenya for meetings at the Sagana State Lodge with local leaders to rally support for the Building Bridges Initiative, widely viewed as a bid to claw back on his DP’s hostile takeover of the region.

During the ceremony in Kabarak yesterday, President Kenyatta said leaders should emulate the respect then Vice President Moi had for his boss, President Kenyatta, instead of displaying “unbridled arrogance”.

President Kenyatta’s remarks were seen to target his DP, same to his statement last month that those selling the hustler-dynasty narrative should know that he, too, could argue that time was not ripe for other communities, presumably other than Kikuyu and Kalenjin, to govern.

The President made the statement during the burial of Mr Musalia Mudavadi’s mother in Mululu, Vihiga County, an event that the DP also skipped. Yesterday, Dr Ruto, who later addressed a rally in Coast, dismissed the BBI, which his boss is campaigning for, saying it was not part of the Jubilee manifesto.

Met local leaders

In Kabarak, the DP was to invite President Kenyatta to deliver his speech. Instead, Rongai MP Raymond Moi who is also Moi’s son, invited the Head of State. But Dr Ruto’s Director of Communications Emmanuel Talam said the DP did not attend the function because “he was not invited”. At that time, the DP was at former cabinet minister Simeon Nyachae’s home to condole with his family.

He later travelled to Msambweni where he met local leaders in Lungalunga, as he kicked off his four-day tour of the region. The DP is scheduled to hold meetings in Kwale, Kilifi and Mombasa. Speaking at Lunga Lunga in Kwale yesterday, Mr Ruto accused ODM leader Raila Odinga of rocking the government from within.

“I heard the guy saying that he has not come to Jubilee, but what I want to tell him is that your coming to Jubilee is what brought cracks (in the party) and chased all our people,” said Mr Ruto. “If you are not in government, what are your leaders doing in all those committees. All committees are lead by ODM. What are you doing in those committees if you are not in government?” Dr Ruto posed.

The DP also tore into the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI): “Our manifesto was about the Big Four agenda. It was not about the BBI.”

In Kabarak, the President criticised Dr Ruto for conducting premature campaigns and asked to be patient.

In a thinly veiled statement, President Kenyatta asked Dr Ruto to emulate former President Moi and exercise patience.

“Ninataka kukumbusha baadhi watu kwamba heshima si utumwa. (I want to remind some people that respect is not servitude. The late Mzee Moi diligently served my father (Jomo Kenyatta) for 17 years with a lot of humility and respect until he took over the leadership of this country in 1978. In his 24-year reign, he was still very humble and respectful,” the president said.

“He ruled for 24-years as president and left power with dignity in 2002. I urge leaders to be respectful and to stop your arrogance because, when your time comes, you will also need to be respected,” added President Kenyatta amid cheers.

The Head of State noted that, as vice President, Moi recognised that his boss (Jomo Kenyatta) was the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and the sitting President.

“He even respected our second President Mwai Kibaki even though he (Kibaki) was not his preferred candidate (in the 2002 election),” President Kenyatta recalled. “The arrogance that we see in today’s leadership raises questions about the future of this country,” he added.

Presidential functions

But Jubilee Party deputy secretary-general Caleb Kositany, who is considered Dr Ruto’s de-facto spokesperson, claimed that unnamed State House officials were to blame for increasing cases where the DP’s empty seat is reserved during presidential functions the moment the deputy president skips an event.

“We think some people are trying to drive a desperate narrative that the DP is avoiding state functions. Let State House produce evidence that the DP was invited to some of these functions. Let it not be empty talk,” said Mr Kositany.

The Soy MP said the DP was still committed to attending presidential events, but with the rider that it respects his prior arrangements.

“The DP will attend all gazetted State functions,” Mr Kositany said, making reference to public holidays at which the only speakers are the President, the DP, the host governor and sometimes ODM leader Raila Odinga.

“Anything not gazetted is not compulsory. It depends on if he has pre-arranged commitments elsewhere.”

Specifically, on the Moi memorial service yesterday, the Soy MP suggested that the event was in conflict with the African Inland Church (AIC) beliefs.

“At AIC, the church the late President Moi attended, all functions end at the day of the burial. We do not hold memorials,” Mr Kositany said.

Last year, the DP was on the spot for missing four State functions in July, including a key Covid-19 briefing where his chair was briefly left vacant before being hurriedly removed.

Mr Ruto’s outsider status is even being witnessed in the use of state facilities. Since he was locked out of the official deputy President’s residence in Mombasa about a year ago, Mr Ruto has never set foot in the house during all his tours at the Coast.

In recent times, whenever Dr Ruto has travelled to the coast, the DP has operated from his home in Mata ward in Taita Taveta County.- Daily Nation

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