Deputy President William Ruto has waded into the political drama pitting Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru against the county’s Woman Representative Wangui Ngirici, who has since fallen out favour with the UDA hierarchy.
Ngirici is on the record alleging betrayal after she helped establish the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) Party, only to be shoved out by Governor Anne Waiguru, a latecomer to the Ruto-led outfit.
In subsequent interviews, after joining UDA on October 26, Waiguru said no one should feel disenfranchised, and that if indeed one feels he or she is best-suited to fly the UDA ticket in the upcoming general election, then they should square it out in the party primaries.
Both Waiguru and Ngirici have expressed interest in the Kirinyaga gubernatorial seat.
For the first time, Ruto has waded into the fierce debate on whether UDA was right to “prefer” Waiguru over Ngirici, especially in the race for Kirinyaga Governor.
“The only way to reward friends, is not to give them a ticket,” Ruto said in an interview on Citizen Television on Tuesday, December 28.
Though he did not directly mention Ngirici, the DP said UDA would prioritise candidates who are better-positioned to win an elective seat, and not ones who “will fail at the ballot”.
“You can give your friend a ticket, and he’ll fail at the ballot if he is not the popular candidate at that moment. That would mean that that party ticket is meaningless,” said the deputy president.
Ruto suggested that should Ngirici stick around and support Waiguru, then he will reward her should he win the presidential election in 2022.
“There are friends that we won’t leave behind, but one of the rewards they’ll be given is not a party ticket. We need the party ticket to win the election, we need the party ticket to go to the right person for us to win that seat, and win the election. All of us understand that we must win the election,” he said.
The DP, however, said the party primaries option was open for Ngirici to pursue if she really wants the UDA ticket in the 2022 Kirinyaga gubernatorial contest.
“To win the election, we must have a fair process. And, any friend who does not make it in the nomination, we have a way of rewarding them. I have a track record of not leaving my friends behind,” said the deputy president.
Ngirici, who has since fallen down the pecking order in UDA, recently said she won’t direct her supporters to vote for a certain presidential candidate over the other in 2022, saying the voters were free to choose among William Ruto, Raila Odinga and other presidential aspirants.
The DP said in however much the UDA hierarchy will help him settle on a running mate, he has the last say on who he picks for a principal assistant.
“I want a candidate who understands the whole matrix of the party, appreciates the amount of load we all have to carry, and [has] knowledge of what the job entails. It’s not an easy decision [for a presidential candidate] to make, and it is not a decision that can be made by an individual. Of course I will have the final say, but there will be a consultative process. It (running mate position) is open to young people, women, men… We will just choose the best among them.”
The deputy president said he will continue playing an active role in UDA Party primaries, just like he did in Jubilee in the lead-up to 2017 polls.
“I took charge of the Jubilee nomination [process] once a problem arose. I told the president that the only sure way was for us, as Jubilee Party leaders, was to be in charge of the party primaries ourselves. And, when I went and sat at the party headquarters [at Pangani], the nominations went on well.
“I have told the UDA fraternity that on matters nominations, I will take personal responsibility, because I have the experience, the knowledge and the understanding… I have run nominations for the last 25 years, and I have sufficient experience to ensure that the nominations will be free and fair,” he said.
Ruto was also asked to respond to claims that he is ruling UDA with an iron fist, and that he has made it difficult for other like-minded political parties to work with the outfit.
“If you ask Mwangi Kiunjuri, Moses Kuria, [and others], they’ll tell you that I never asked them to fold their parties so that they work with me. I intend to build UDA into a national political party. I can’t be friends with you, and you’re telling me that I can’t field UDA candidates in certain parts of the country. UDA is a national political party.
“Many people come to me and say: ‘we want to work with you, but on condition that you won’t field UDA candidates in certain elective seats’. The major challenge in accepting that arrangement is, we have a national party, and we can’t lock out our candidates from contesting for elective seats in any part of the country. I have no problem working with people who would allow us field candidates, even as we work together before and after the 2022 General Election.”
Relations with Uhuru
The deputy president maintains that he enjoys a cordial relationship with President Uhuru Kenyatta, and that people allied to ODM leader Raila Odinga have attempted to drive a wedge between him and the Head of State.
“The president, away from the talk and gossip, is still my friend. I am not running against the president in 2022. People who are competing against me do not want to face me directly. They are hiding behind the president under the guise of handshake,” said the DP.
On whether he is worried that the “deep state” might influence the outcome of the 2022 presidential contest, Ruto said “we’ve defeated the so-called deep state before – in by-elections”.
“In the run-up to recent by-elections, some people said: ‘there’s no way you can defeat the Government or the Handshake team’. I did so in Msambweni, Juja and Kiambaa by-elections.
“I want to tell Kenyans that the so-called system or deep state does not exist. And, I am saying this from a point of knowledge as the Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya. If the said-deep state existed, do you think they’d allow UDA to win an elective seat in Kiambaa, [which is the president’s backyard]?”
The DP was also quick to fault those accusing him of trying to appeal to the electorate using the wheelbarrow, which has been described as “obsolete technology” by his opponents.
“We have been ridiculed about the wheelbarrow. Some say: ‘the deputy president is educated, but wants to give Kenyans the outdated wheelbarrow technology’. Politics has a lot of deception. There’s nowhere I have ever said that I will give a wheelbarrow to Kenyans. The wheelbarrow is just a symbol of the UDA political party. There are parties that have oranges, donkeys, a cock, and all manner of things, as symbols. There’s a political party that has a lion as its symbol, have you heard the leaders of that party telling Kenyans that they’ll give lions to the electorate?” posed the deputy president.
Ruto said he borrowed his bottom-up economic model from countries that have tested the model, and have received positive results.
“When I talk about bottom-up economic model, it’s a model that is tested and proven. It has been researched on, it’s understood, and is applicable in other parts of the world, including the United States of America. President Joe Biden has a similar economic model. He says his is bottom up-middle out. Ours is bottom up. In Kenya, we do not have a sufficient middle class population to extend our model to that group,” said the DP.
On the controversial Political Parties (Amendment) Bill 2021, which is up for debate in the National Assembly on Wednesday, December 29, the DP urged MPs to reject the Bill, saying certain powers belonging to the electoral board, IEBC, would be transferred to the Registrar of Political Parties.
“Do you want a situation where one person decides whether you belong to this party, or that party? Of course, no. The organisation of members should be left to political parties, the choice to belong to political parties should be left to every individual.”
His remarks came after he said in Turbo Constituency on Tuesday that the Bill was brought to Parliament by “a notorious political party that has been luring small parties into coalitions in the past before defrauding them”.
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