Bwana Adongo you have said in the past that Murathe can be reckless, is this one of those occasions?
He is basically saying that they are done with Ruto as a community. And many from the mountain seem to agree.
Could this be the deal?
Murathe: Uhuru loyalist whose word can decide Kenya’s future
A character in the 1990 BBC political drama The House of Cards says of wheeler-dealers, buccaneers and functionaries who infest corridors of power supplying all manner of political labour to parties and politicians: “A politician needs a wife and other people; regrettably, a man of state needs helpers to do his bidding … even unwitting pawns who don’t know who they serve …”
President Uhuru Kenyatta has no shortage of helpers, but few display the bravado, brashness and, lately, a penchant for taking a rare irreverent dig at Deputy President and Jubilee deputy party leader, Dr William Ruto, as Mr David Murathe does.
In old communist Russia, these ranks of political labourers were called the apparatchik, non-professional, non-specialist, but ever available and ready for deployment on any political assignment.
Their most valued credentials beside loyalty are that they must harbour no known or expressed aspirations for higher office.
They are never deployed to any of the top echelons of party leadership as chairmanship or secretary-general, party leader and deputy leader, the cadres reserved for potential national leaders.
Kenya’s political anthropologists and biographers are yet to study and document the role of unelected informal players in contemporary Kenya state, who seem to pack so much political heft and influence in government actions at various phases of Kenya’s post-independence political evolution than elected leaders, but are not accountable to the public.
Last Wednesday, Mr Murathe chose an opposition-organised event at Mbale Stadium, Vihiga County, hosted by his old college mate at the University of Nairobi, Musalia Mudavadi, to launch the most scathing attack on Dr Ruto’s presidential ambitions.
In what sounded like a valedictory speech, he essentially said Ruto’s days of calling the shots in the house of Jubilee was an illusion, Jubilee had its owners, and the jury was still out on their preference of Kenyatta II successor.
It was a loaded statement that seems to have taken even Ruto’s staunchest opponents by surprise.
As one of the close allies of President Uhuru Kenyatta, many will be hard put to separate Mr Murathe’s sentiments from those of the big man.
For those who know him, Mr Murathe never has illusions where his loyalties lie, and who his heroes are.
He is known to use phrases in discussions about politicians’ penchant for ambiguous utterances, but his was not ambiguous by any measure.
When, in 2016, current Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi seemed keen to assert himself inside Jubilee’s top leadership after small affiliate parties, including his Alliance Party of Kenya (APK), dissolved to join Jubilee, Mr Murathe told him with a curt retort: Jubilee is no Party of National Unity (PNU) where Kiraitu was secretary-general).
In the second term of retired President Kibaki’s term (2008-2013), an amorphous appointment was made of retired civil servant, Mr Stanley Murage, as a powerful “policy adviser” based at State House in addition to the State House Comptroller.
Mr Murathe remarked at the time: “That is the office I want when Uhuru is President.”
He may not have been appointed policy adviser, but his bravado and recent provocative statements throw broad enough hints about the latitude he enjoys.
His behind-the-scenes activities in Jubilee, its predecessor, The National Alliance (TNA), and his ability to criss-cross between political spaces at personal and political levels on errands for his buddy cuts the portrait of a trusted loyalist.
Few ask questions about who sent him when Mr Murathe shows up at funeral meetings, wedding committees or political events of entities perceived as Uhuru rivals.
Once in 2007, Kalonzo Musyoka and Dr Julia Ojiambo were holding a delegates conference at Kasarani sports stadium.
Suddenly a Kalonzo ally, Mr Gideon Ndambuki, found his way to a social joint where Murathe was and breathlessly asked: What can you do?
Apparently, Mr Kalonzo and Dr Julia had difficulties with delegates’ allowances and didn’t want a fallout in front of media cameras. Mr Ndambuki and Mr Murathe drove off together.
On President Kenyatta’s axis of politics, Mr Murathe has come to symbolise the counterweight and political checkmate to Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen and Jubilee Majority Leader Aden Duale, who symbolise Dr Ruto’s proxy attack dogs, especially on knotty issues.
To his credit, Mr Murathe’s steadfast loyalty to President Kenyatta long before and after he assumed power has never been in doubt, so much that few personalities are sought after by newshounds to give the President’s political pulse of things whenever they cannot get an official State House dispatch.
If they ever differed over things Murathe says on his behalf, the President, his family members and aficionados have never contradicted the former Gatanga MP for things he says on their behalf.
Once when Uhuru seemed partyless for some time after bolting out of Kanu in 2009, Mr Murathe was asked what party he supported.
Without batting an eyelid he shot back: My party is Uhuru Kenyatta.
President Kenyatta, Dr Ruto and Mr Murathe come a long way, politically, and it is significant Mr Murathe never sought an elective party office unlike his two buddies. Even the one he holds currently is interim.
As an unelected interim Jubilee Party vice-chairman, Mr Murathe is the only Jubilee office bearer who displays audacity to publicly criticise his deputy party leader and Deputy President on matters normally few Jubilee elected leaders would touch on publicly.
An unwritten rule since President Kenyatta assumed power on a Jubilee flagship in 2013 is that no elected leader from his Mt Kenya base ever mentions Dr Ruto’s name negatively in public, until the President himself invented the term “tanga tanga” in relation to Dr Ruto and his lieutenants.
Mr Murathe is the first senior Jubilee official to explicitly mention the DP’s name and brazenly tell him off on the matter of 2013 pre-election Kenyatta II succession pact, that is supposed to have obligated President Kenyatta to mobilise his Gema base in support of Ruto’s presidential ambitions in 2022.
Lately, Mr Murathe has also been keeping the company of former Jubilee bigwigs whose careers were sunk at the disputed primaries in May 2017, and who blame the Deputy President for their predicament.
In his book, Illusion of Power (2001), a long-serving parliamentarian, the late Geoffrey Gitahi Kariuki, (popularly known as GG), grimly described his party, Kanu’s pervasive disregard for rules, decorum and expectations and lack of any semblance of concern for political morality or consequences, thus:
“Those who succeed in criminally acquiring and maintaining their power, at whatever cost, are forever haunted by the fear of losing their soul-deadening harvests.
“No doubt, extreme megalomania and the desire to hold onto power regardless of consequences for millions who look up to their leaders for guidance in creating a better life, are the most crucial factors that have stifled Kenyan’s democratic development …”
Among questions that have been raised in social media reactions to Mr Murathe’s affront on the DP is if he is among entities Mt Kenya voters look up to for leadership in the current political discourse.
A strange silence has met his provocative statements, especially in Mt Kenya region, where he may have calculated to trigger a chorus of public statements against the DP as politicians normally do upon receiving the cue.
Despite repeated public jibes at the DP, the soloist is yet to inspire a chorus in response. The question is: Is the silence speaking to the message or the messenger?
Ruto’s allies set sight on Jubilee boss Murathe, truce deal
Three days after President Uhuru Kenyatta’s confidant David Murathe declared that Jubilee Party has no candidate for State House race in 2022, Deputy President William Ruto’s allies are planning a counter-move in the new year that he hopes will turn the tide in his favour going forward.
On Friday, Dr Ruto reached out to members of county assemblies (MCAs) as he sought to solidify his national support across the country ahead of 2022.
Dr Ruto met MCAs from Kakamega, Baringo and Elgeyo-Marakwet counties at his Sugoi home in Uasin Gishu County.
Though the agenda of the meeting was “empowering MCAs to strengthen devolution”, sources said that 2022 succession politics cropped up, with the MCAs assuring Dr Ruto of their unwavering support.
This week, conversations with a number of Dr Ruto’s allies suggested that they are not sitting pretty, even after the President moved to allay fears on Friday that he never engaged in 2022 politics with ODM leader Raila Odinga in their March 9 “handshake” that has dramatically changed the political scene.
During an interview in Mombasa on Friday, the President dwelt at length on the Building Bridges Initiative, saying it would be part of his administration’s priority focus area in 2019.
Dr Ruto’s lieutenants, who double up as members of “the war council” charged with delivering the presidency, are working on a multi-pronged blueprint they hope will neutralise the effects of the political truce (handshake) Mr Kenyatta had with Mr Odinga on March 9.
The truce has increasingly blunted his succession plan and emboldened those against his State House bid, some even in the ruling party.
Part of the plan is to go public on their displeasure and, at some point, play the victim card.
This, we gathered, will be intended to make the President and his allies look dishonest in the court of public opinion. The hope is that this could boost Dr Ruto’s popularity ratings.
“We were together as Jubilee Party under the slogan “Tuko Pamoja” (we are together). But are we really together?” Majority Whip Ben Washiali, who sits in the council, told the Sunday Nation.
He went on: “We were together and we are now out. You can’t keep telling us that we are together when you have other people at the eating table. Let’s see what the new year holds.”
He hinted that a major announcement on a way forward could be coming.
“If he (Dr Ruto) has an MoU with Mr Kenyatta, then that was an agreement between two individuals,” Mr Murathe said on Wednesday in Vihiga, sentiments that have now sparked a political storm.
While opinion is divided inside the DP’s camp on whether such a move would be prudent, going for an all-out war more than three years to the next elections, there is near consensus after Mr Murathe’s remarks that the deep State is keen to back somebody else to take over from Mr Kenyatta.
Equally, the deep State is keen to drop its support for the presidential system of government in favour of a parliamentary one, an abrupt U-turn from an earlier position.
Dr Ruto has maintained that he would like to assume the mantle of power without any alterations to the current structure.
“He (Dr Ruto) is going around opposing the referendum. Jubilee is yet to take a position. What is he opposing yet there is no question? Uhuru said in Kisumu we must change the Constitution to accommodate all to ensure inclusion. Raila has a following that must be accommodated in government,” Mr Murathe said.
The change of heart, a high-ranking member of the council confided, is to avoid isolation as the referendum campaign gathers steam.
Mr Kenyatta’s remarks in Kisumu a fortnight ago, calling for a change in law to correct the winner-take-it-all arrangement, is said to have informed the new position.
They argue that taking on the President head-on could boomerang.
They have interpreted the Kisumu trip, the first since Mr Kenyatta took the oath of office for his second term, as a formal launch of the referendum push that would see changes introduced into the Constitution before the next General Election.
The war council, made up of majority leaders in Parliament Kipchumba Murkomen and Aden Duale, Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter, Deputy Senate Speaker Kithure Kindiki, former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale and Mr Washiali, among others, believes that chances of their man becoming the next President are thinning by the day.
This is especially so since President Kenyatta appears reluctant to publicly endorse him, as they had expected when the two sides joined hands in 2013.
Other sources pointed out that the feeling in the group is captured in the recent pronouncements by Mr Duale on the floor of the House.
Those around the Deputy President have identified the presidential results transmission system as the greatest impediment to his dream of ascending to the presidency in 2022, and a referendum would present an opportunity to correct this.
They also complained that President Kenyatta had abandoned the people who supported him in 2017 and is busy dining with those who opposed him.
They say the current votes transmission regime is prone to manipulation that could lead to subjugation of the popular will, something that is bound to raise questions about the integrity of past elections.
In the last three presidential elections, the transmission of results has been the source of furious disputes, with the Supreme Court being requested to determine whether the final tally matched what was transmitted from the constituencies in the last two polls.
While those close to Dr Ruto say he strongly prefers the presidential system, the option to support a parliamentary one is borne out of the fact that it has fewer risks when it comes to transmitting results.
In any case, in a parliamentary system, the prime minister (PM) is almost always elected by Parliament, where the leader of the party or coalition that wins the largest number of seats automatically becomes PM.
There are indications that the political class is keen to reintroduce the premier position.
“The presidential system is enticed and entangled with corruption, because the contestants want to take money. There is corruption at IEBC, there is corruption in the transmission of results,” Mr Duale said, expressing the fears that haunt the DP and his team.
“Let’s adopt the parliamentary system of government so that the constituency becomes the theatre of electoral battle,” Mr Duale said last week when he revealed the camp’s change of plan on the floor of the House.
The Ruto camp has been unnerved by the President’s recent tour of Kisumu, where he was hosted by Mr Odinga.
During the tour, protocol was angled in favour of Mr Odinga, to the disadvantage of Dr Ruto.
This raised fears of a possible political deal between the Kikuyu and Luo communities, the top two groups that have defined Kenya’s post-independence politics.
“If you want everybody to win, then the country must adopt a federal system of government where each county will have its own president. I also want to be the president of the Garissa federal state,” Mr Duale told the House while calling for introduction of a majimbo system of government.
Under the system, the Garissa Township MP said, all functions would be devolved while 80 percent of the national revenue would be devolved to the federal states.
“This is a conversation that we must have starting January. I will only support the push to amend the Constitution if federalism is the way to go.”
Aware that some powerful brokers would not support the majimbo idea, the DP’s camp knows it is muddying the waters.