Deputy President William Ruto’s allies are drawing an elaborate plan to counter the so-called ‘system’ that is said to be hell-bent on blocking his ascension to power in 2022.
‘System’, sometimes referred to as ‘deep state’, refers to powerful bureaucrats and heads of top state institutions. Dr Ruto earlier this year said the ‘system’ was working against his office and his presidential ambitions.
A key plank in the strategy, according insiders who spoke to the Nation, is for the DP to stay put in the ruling Jubilee government, refusing to take the option of quitting, which his team thinks would expose him to further harassment.
Dr Ruto is also keen to control the flow of information and leakage of secrets from his camp, as he mobilises grassroot support as well as targets the youth and small business owners, with whom he has been sharing his oft-quoted pauper-to-riches chicken-seller story.
An outsider in his own government, Dr Ruto has several obstacles in his path, for which he blames on bureaucrats in government and the March 2018 handshake between President Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga.
“I know, I am aware, and it is obvious that there is a huge scheme that has been orchestrated to demean and destroy my office and to ensure that I do not get anywhere,” Dr Ruto said in March during the burial of Sergeant Kipyegon Kenei, a security officer in his office.
“Those executing this elaborate scheme, ostensibly to stop me using all these schemes, I want to tell them: They may have the system, they may have whatever they have, but I want to tell them, we have a God in heaven.”
Kept out of key State meetings, including Cabinet and the National Security Council, the DP has also been blocked from launching new projects, with Mr Kenyatta declaring that no new government projects will be launched without his express authority.
The recent purge of his key allies in the National Assembly and the Senate has further weakened his mobilisation base, which came with the high-profile offices the leaders held in the Houses.
According to insiders in his camp, Dr Ruto will in the coming weeks “stamp his authority as the President’s principal assistant” as he consolidates support to cement his bid.
The sources on Thursday told the Nation that the DP will not bow to pressure from President Kenyatta’s allies in Jubilee Party and resign. Instead, one of the lawmakers close to the DP said, he will stay put and enjoy the trappings of power that will boost his campaigns until 2022.
“In 2022, Ruto will be the state candidate by virtue of his job and we have good plans and insiders in this government who will ensure he takes over from Uhuru,” he said.
In efforts to reach the grassroots, sources say, the self-declared ‘hustler’ has set up a team of leaders up to ward level to spread his agenda.
And following months of President Kenyatta’s onslaught on his foot soldiers in Parliament, two MPs allied to the DP told the Nation that Dr Ruto is keen on how information flows in his camp and plans to clean up his house.
In the clean-up, the sources said, at least two Cabinet secretaries, a Mt Kenya woman representative and an MP from his Rift Valley backyard are targeted following claims that they leak information to the DP’s political foes, including the ‘deep state’.
The targeted ministers are said to be “too keen to continue serving in the Cabinet” and have been trying to be in good books with President Kenyatta following reports of looming Cabinet reshuffle.
Jubilee deputy secretary-general Caleb Kositany, who is also the DP’s de-facto spokesperson, was non-committal on the weeding out of moles, saying that they need everyone on board ahead of 2022.
Dr Ruto has of late been reaching out to the less fortunate in the society and has offered them material support in a bid to endear himself to them.
Through his youth empowerment programme in Westlands, Kasarani, Embakasi East and Kamukunji constituencies, the DP has donated carts, wheelbarrows, power generators, screen-printing equipment, car-wash machines, water tanks and salon equipment.
“We recognise micro, small and medium-sized business as central forces of innovation, job creation and economic growth in our country,” Dr Ruto tweeted last week. “As such we have the duty of nurturing and uplifting them into large firms by providing a conducive environment if we are to industrialise.”
Through the initiative, Belgut MP Nelson Koech said the DP decided to “teach the youth how to catch fish rather than give them ready fish”. He said this will be taken to the villages to ensure Dr Ruto mobilises support to outshine the likely candidate of the ‘system’.
Former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale said the teams will move to the village level to “reach the ground”.
“Through our teams, we shall unveil an elaborate strategy to do that,” Dr Khalwale said.
Mr Kositany said their only prayer is that members of their camp remain safe.
The people of Kenya, he said, will deal with the system in the elections.
Political analyst Herman Manyora argues that apart from playing the victim card in government, Dr Ruto could flex his muscle as the DP to the core of government and win support despite being boxed in by the powers that be.
“Certainly, Ruto has people in government whom he relies on for his 2022 bid. This will include people in the security and even intelligence sector,” Mr Manyora told the Nation.