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OPANGA: No way out for Ruto as powerful forces move to cut him down to size

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By KWENDO OPANGA
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I told you last year President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto were no longer friends. They are colleagues. I told you two Sundays ago that no Kenyan Number Two has been fought as viciously as is the DP.

Well, used and abused, publicly humiliated and hounded, Dr Ruto is in the pits, a heartbeat away from the dumpsite.

The man who did so much to win the presidency thrice – in 2013 and twice in 2017 – for Mr Kenyatta with a view to winning it for himself in 2022, last week received a massive kick in the teeth.

Witness this masterstroke or master-gladiator move by President Kenyatta against his Deputy.

One, he sets up a high-powered committee to implement, oversee and communicate progress on all priority government projects.

Two, reporting to the President, the team comprises all 21 Cabinet secretaries and the Attorney-General and is significantly called National Development Implementation and Communication Cabinet Committee (NDICC).

Three, Dr Ruto is outflanked; he is not a member of NDICC. In fact, the Executive Order No 1 of 2019 which announced its emergence does not mention the DP. So, NDICC will have nothing to do with him or him with it.

But, four, Dr Ruto has unrelentingly traversed Kenya and introduced to the public and announced to them the process, and progress, of implementation of government projects almost on a weekly basis.

In fact, Dr Ruto’s raison d’etre for touring the country has been as publicist-chief of the government’s development scorecard.

As he tells it, he does this in his capacity as the President’s errand runner.

Five, in 2017 President Kenyatta called Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i the third most powerful person in government. By the above Executed Order, the President made Dr Matiang’i supervisor of his 20 Cabinet colleagues.

He is the chairman of the NDICC – which makes him the first among Cabinet equals.

This reminds many of Mr Raila Odinga’s time as Prime Minister (2008-2013) when his role included supervision of ministers’ performance.

Many will equally be reminded that when Mr Simeon Nyachae was Chief Secretary, a since defunct top-notch Public Service job in the 1980s, ministers accused him of acting as if he were a Prime Minister. Dr Matiang’i will be regarded as PM.

But why Dr Matiang’i? Because he is a ruthless and efficient enforcer; imbued with an enviable singleness of purpose; defends his turf fiercely; and is fiercely loyal to the boss. Over and above all else, he delivers set and time-bound goals.

Dr Matiang’i suffers no fools. Not surprisingly, he has publicly declared himself an enkororo. He may be the best politician in Mr Kenyatta’s Executive and kitchen Cabinets.

Why an executive order? It reinforces the authority of office and the power President Kenyatta wields.

By it he bypassed Parliament to escape scrutiny and hurdles from the DP’s allies, imposed his will on Kenya and kicked the DP in the guts.

What’s next for the DP? Obviously a decision has been made in some smoke-filled room he should not be President. His public humiliation continues and the plot thickens.

In the national political arena he is checkmated by his nemesis, the old fox Mr Odinga turned friend of the President 10 months ago and expected rival for the presidency in 2022.

In the DP’s Rift Valley turf, Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, son of Daniel Kapkarios Toroitich arap Moi, Kenya’s second president, says he, too, wants the presidency in 2022.

If he runs, Dr Ruto will reckon with a split regional and Kalenjin vote.

In the courts, his allies face corruption charges and those outside read malice aforethought.

But their waking nightmare is that the DP himself may be arraigned on graft-related charges. Little wonder former Jubilee Party vice-chairman David Murathe accused the DP’s allies of plunder.

There is the campaign for the change of the Constitution to introduce the office of prime minister and two deputy premiers, all of which appear aimed at reducing the DP’s office to a backwater.

Of course, in the government operations he has been the second in command armed with sweeteners and frighteners as he commanded the development sphere.

Now, after recent attacks against him as unfit to lead Kenya, NDICC has upset this equilibrium.

Battered and buffeted, Dr Ruto must go back to the drawing board.



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