The morning after he skipped a presidential event on Covid-19, Deputy President William Ruto staged a ‘hustlers’ parade’ at his official residence in Karen.
The DP was uncharacteristically gung-ho as he announced the end of business as usual with the promise of real change when he takes the reins of power in 2022.
The event, on the day President Uhuru Kenyatta left the country for Europe, offered the clearest indicator yet that Ruto has finally stopped hedging his bets and has taken flight from government.
Uhuru is in France for a three-day State visit at the invitation of President Emmanuel Macron. See separate story on page 9.
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In ordinary times, the DP would see off his boss at the airport and assume the responsibility of running the nation in his absence. But Ruto was instead champing at the bit, issuing threats and giving notice at the same time. It was time to throw caution to the wind.
“We will continue what we are doing, wata-do (what will they do)? They will have to submit. Respect is two ways. You respect to be respected. I am a DP now, but I rose from selling chicken,” he told the groups at his residence. The criticism that he is staging political shows in an official residence was not lost to him. He responded with unmistakable defiance.
“I am in a hustlers’ mansion. I am a tenant courtesy of your votes and prayers. I am not interested in votes. I am interested in empowering the people as the DP. The other will come by God’s grace. Mboka ni mboka, mbera ni mbera, hustler ni hustler, let everyone respect each other,” he said.
Ahead of the event yesterday, Ruto’s allies had taken to his favourite platform, Twitter, to roll back the claims that the DP had disrespected the president and by extension the people by giving the KICC event a wide berth on Monday.
They claimed he is never invited for these functions, and that the KICC event was a trap to ensnare him in the Covid-19 ignominy.
“Let’s stop the hypocrisy. If William Ruto’s contribution counted, how come he has never been invited to any government Covid response meeting? Now you want him to join the Covid millionaires in sharing their looting success,” Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot said.
Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa expressed similar views, saying the DP was deliberately being kept off State events, and that the State had been using the pandemic to outshine him.
When he faced “fellow hustlers” yesterday, the DP told them to brace for a political revolution that will sweep the dynasties and shape the country’s geo-politics.
“I am telling everybody in the republic of Kenya. We are going to have a different conversation devoid of ethnicity and who has power. We have had the wrong conversation for 50 years resulting in half of the population being below the poverty line,” Ruto said.
Leaving himself out of the equation, the DP claimed the problem with Kenyan leaders was that they don’t understand the challenges the citizens face.
“I am giving notice; it is not going to be business as usual where we talk tribes, however difficult and uncomfortable it will be.” He questioned why people were uncomfortable by the ‘hustler’ movement. He said the misinterpretation won’t stop his dream. He created every impression that his best days lie ahead, not the present or the past.
“Hii mnalalamika na ni kidogo na sasa tukichukua serikali tufanye hii ikue mradi wa serikali si mtalia (You are complaining about a small project, what will happen when I capture power and make this a government project?),” Ruto said.
He complained of “lords of poverty” who misuse the youth, saying he was out to save the day. He said some leaders have never known poverty in their lives.
He frowned upon the very ethnic alliances that brought him to power, saying their days are gone. “I want to tell our friends that they have been beneficiaries of the narrative of ethnicity. That business is at an end. We have no tribe; our tribe is our hustle.”
MPs John Kiarie (Dagoretti South), Aisha Jumwa (Malindi), Benjamin Gathiru (Embakasi), Nixon Korir (Langata), Ichung’wa, Senator Millicent Omanga and former MP Margaret Wanjiru also defended Ruto.