President Uhuru Kenyatta is taking advantage of the coronavirus crisis to fix his deputy William Ruto, one of the latter’s closest allies has sensationally claimed.
In a tell-all interview, the first he has given since he was removed from the Office of the Majority Leader, Mr Kipchumba Murkomen has termed President Kenyatta’s treatment of his deputy as extreme provocation, a betrayal of the highest order, and one that was “totally unwarranted”.
Mr Murkomen said his ouster had nothing to do with loyalty or the rule of law, but a succession war that “has gone awry”. “Someone is definitely taking advantage of Covid-19 to settle personal political scores.
They have gone ahead to ask why no one is protesting because of our removal. That’s exactly the situation they are exploiting. I don’t think it would have been possible to remove us in an ordinary situation,” he said yesterday at his law offices in Nairobi’s Upper Hill area. He described the treatment of Mr Ruto — and his allies — as callous and an act of people without a conscience.
“They have even used the word fumigation, that they are fumigating Jubilee. This is genocidal language. Like when the word cockroaches was used in Rwanda ahead of the mayhem,” he said.
He continued: “There is no justification for the disrespect shown to the DP, considering his consistent support for the President and how he fought to have this government established.
Even in the midst of all this he has displayed commendable restraint.” He denied that Mr Ruto had become too powerful, as some critics have charged, saying power lies in statecraft, which is in the hands of the President. Asked what may have triggered the bitter falling-out between the two country’s top leaders who were once bosom buddies, Mr Murkomen said he didn’t know of any wrong that the DP had done except to become popular.
“I have agonised over and over as to what could have led to this, but the only mistake Ruto may have made is to be popular. Yet he couldn’t have helped it because it is outside of him. He is not in control, because this love for him is distributed across the country,” he said.
He revealed, without going into details, that even the most junior officials, “who have their positions by virtue of the DP’s contribution to the formation of government”, had the audacity to humiliate him.
He said the least DP Ruto’s detractors would have done was to let him run out his term and refuse to support him at the election, “but to fight him this viciously is the ultimate betrayal”.
The former law lecturer said he expected more changes in Jubilee, including an attempted impeachment of the DP because “these people are desperate”, and removal of his perceived loyalists from parliamentary committees.
“These are actions of people who would have preferred boardroom deals to select the next President.” On whether Dr Ruto would consider resigning, Mr Murkomen said it was not in his interest nor that of the country to quit. “They will try all manner of tactics to force him to resign or so that his supporters come out in their numbers to protest then they brand him violent. We will not fall for that. The DP will continue discharging his constitutional duties and Kenyans will choose the next leader when the time comes….
“I have seen that even the media has fallen for this matter of our unlawful ouster to my losing cars, employees and other personal benefits. Okay, we all need money, but I am happy to lose it for what I believe in. If we all voted with our selfish gain in mind, what country willl we have? I made a conscious choice to stand for the Constitution.”
He denied having been disloyal to the President, but added that where loyalty to the President and that to the Constitution clashed, he went with the latter.
“Our country is not a monarchy, which is a rule of men, but a republic ruled by law. But even where I did not agree with the President, I did so respectively.”
Mr Murkomen traced the genesis of his present woes to his “steadfast fight for devolution”, including taking the Executive to the Supreme Court on division of revenue and opposing Mau evictions againstthe government stand. He also blamed his support for the multibillion-shilling Kimwarer and Arror dam projects even when they had fallen out of favour with the President, and his rising star in the Building Bridges Initiative where his speeches were well received at Bomas and in Meru, for his present predication.
He also opposed what he calls the militarisation of the Nairobi County government, which he insists runs counter to the Constitution.
“People called us sycophants in the first term. What they didn’t know is that there was a lot of consultation then, and what people saw me saying yes to in public was a matter we had debated and agreed internally about before it came out in the public.”
He said this was a far cry from the modus operandi in the second term where the first parliamentary group meeting was held in 2017 to elect leaders and the second one held three years later to remove them.
“Perhaps the next one would be to bury it,” he said.
He described Samwel Poghisio, the senator who replaced him, and Irungu Kang’ata, who replaced Susan Kihika as chief whip, as laughable, adding that the Executive needed pliable people to kill the Legislature.
On his political future, Mr Murkomen said time was on his side and that he would actively play his role as senator for Elgeyo-Marakwet and speak up on national issues that call for his attention. “I celebrated my 41st birthday recently while the people who congregated to oust us were all above 60. I will wait for my time, which is coming and history will prove me right.”
He likened the present arrangement of Parliament, where the difference between the majority and the minority was non-existent, to Animal Farm, the allegorical novel by George Orwell in which in the end, the pigs who had come to chase men out of power adopted their habits and looked exactly the same as the people they had ousted.
“I don’t think that the Senate, for instance, can be resuscitated. It is being buried with senators as undertakers. What does it benefit people like James Orengo who were rightly celebrated for their fight for democracy in the past only for them to come and sanitise what they fought all along?” he posed.
He said the present political situation was unlike that of the 2002 Moi succession where a groundswell of opposition swept away the State’s chosen successor.
“They will keep pushing people out like this and until such a time that those who are outside are more than those who are inside. Even Raila Odinga thought that he was Moi’s chosen successor but in the end he wasn’t. Again he would be terribly mistaken if he believes he is the one now.”