Aden Duale: I don’t trust any politician, not even William Ruto

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Monday September 27, 2021

I should start by saying that I am doing very well, and that I’m back in parliamentary leadership, this time in the backbench but as a senior ranking member of the House.

I want to thank Speaker Justin Muturi for introducing the American style of leadership in the National Assembly, where if you hold a constitutional office in the Legislature for a number of terms you become a ranking member on quitting. The position comes with honour and respect, and I’m expected to guide the House when called upon.

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Life, though, has changed since I was stripped on my Majority Leader position in the National Assembly. For one, I have got enough time for my family now. I also have more time for my other businesses and I am writing a book, my memoirs, which should be ready mid-next year.

In it I talk about my political life, my tenure as the inaugural occupant of the office of the Leader of the Majority under the new Constitution, the intrigues in Jubilee and its decade in power. I am speaking from the heart, something only similar to what John Bolton, who served as National Security Advisor for US President Donald Trump from April 2018 to September 2019, wrote in The Room Where it Happened. I will also say what happened in very many rooms when Jubilee was in power.

Many have wondered what went wrong between the President and his deputy. The truth is only the two of them can answer that, and that’s a very important disclosure they need to make to the country. More than 100 times during my tenure as the Leader of the Majority, I asked the President what was going on and he kept saying there was no problem. When I posed the same question to DP Ruto he kept saying he was not aware of any crimes he had committed.

 

On one occasion I went to see the President and asked him: “Why can’t you tell us who you are supporting? Aren’t you supporting William Ruto to take over?” His response was: “Did I tell you I am not supporting William Ruto?”

History repeating itself

In my view, Ruto is a victim of a history that is repeating itself. This is the same fate that befell former Vice President Jaramogi Oginga Odinga under Jomo Kenyatta. Same for George Saitoti, Dr Josephat Karanja and Mwai Kibaki under President Daniel Moi. This, in fact, is the same scenario that President Moi himself navigated in the 1970s. Moi was humiliated physically by the people around Jomo Kenyatta.

Raila Odinga suffered the same during the first term of the NARC government and in the coalition government. Framers of the 2010 constitution were cognisant of that history and ensured the office of the Deputy President is not the same as that of the Vice President; the DP is elected jointly with the President, and so the head of state cannot whimsically sack the DP.

President Kenyatta is guilty of allowing people around him, the likes of David Murathe, Raphael Tuju and others who hold serious public offices, including in the security docket, to humiliate and disrespect both the office and the person of the Deputy President.

And I believe the humiliation cannot be done without the concurrence and guidance of the President. Uhuru’s men have accused the DP of conducting himself as though theirs was a co-presidency. That’s not true. If there was any person in Jubilee who was loyal to the government and the President, it was Ruto.

I noticed all was not well between the two immediately Uhuru was re-elected for a second and final term in office in 2017. After the election, just before the Supreme Court nullified our win, I saw things that indicated that this was not going to be a smooth ride.

I had been a regular at State House and we held a Jubilee Parliamentary Group meeting just before the Supreme Court ruling on the election, and I could see the mood was not right between the two. But because I had developed a very strong relationship with, and had pledged high level confidence to, the President, I brushed that aside. In my mind, this could not happen.

Sometimes I sit outside in my garden and I ask myself: Really? Politics of deceit, really? Betrayal that I only used to hear of, only used to read about? Is this true? Is this the President Uhuru Kenyatta that I have known?

Many regrets

The President and his deputy became part of my life. Even while at home, they could call me anytime. My children knew that a day would not pass without them calling, mostly late in the night.

But all this has changed. When I saw things were not going well, I was in denial. When we went for the PG, Uhuru’s language was not that of the President I had known. Two days later, the Supreme Court nullified our victory and he hid his real intentions against Ruto.

We were perplexed by the Supreme Court ruling. Devastated. We went to the President to comfort him. Ruto was the team leader. Everything now was about how to campaign for the second round. Despite all the signs of a looming betrayal, the Deputy President and I were in denial.

Publicly, we appeared well, but privately we used to ask ourselves questions. From 2018, the strategy to isolate Ruto from government, to humiliate him, to deny him the chance to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta, to character-assassinate him, to throw mud at him, was put in motion. It was good they did it that early because they gave us ample time to prepare for them. They have exhausted all their plans now.

Ruto and I regret a lot of things. There are many things we did out of loyalty to the President but which we didn’t believe in. The DP and I were, for instance, forced to defend Kirinyaga Governor Ann Waiguru because of loyalty. We were forced to even defend this government from the Health ministry’s scandals, and to defend the Eurobond fraud and the SGR. I even fought Jimi Wanjigi over the SGR! Now I regret it.

My tenure was characterised with many accusations, including stifling civil liberties and helping make the cost of living worse. I do not think that’s a fair characterisation. The security laws came after the Westgate Mall terror attack and were meant to improve the conduct of our security agencies in the war against terror.

On the high cost of fuel, the VAT on petroleum is an IMF policy that was forced on President Uhuru Kenyatta. My only role was to present and give the reasons why the President was returning the Bill to the House and his reservations in exercise of his constitutional role. The MPs did not raise the two-thirds required to sell it, so it passed and the President signed it into law. This presidency has used the veto power in Article 115 to legislate.

So, after all that, have I forgiven Uhuru for sacking me? In my religion, we believe that your destiny is guided by the Almighty Allah. I have no room and time to hold grudges.

It was reported in 2013, soon after Uhuru was elected president, that I would jump from the top of KICC in his defence and that of Ruto, and for that I was accused of sycophancy. But people removed the context in which that statement was made.

There is nothing that William Ruto has told me that has never come to pass. Everything in his political journey, every starting point, he has told me “this is going to happen” and it has all come to pass. If he tells me “my friend, you can climb KICC and jump and you will not break your leg” I might do it now, not because I am a sycophant, but because everything is all about strategy. As for Uhuru, that’s a different story now.

Uhuru’s betrayal

President Uhuru Kenyatta has not only betrayed the DP, but also destroyed the vision, mission, and spirit that led to the formation of Jubilee Party. Uhuru has not only betrayed Ruto, but me too. I have been most loyal to him and served him diligently as Leader of the Majority in the National Assembly.

There is nothing the President asked me to do within the confines of the Legislature and outside it that I did not do, including campaigning for him and winning him the whole region of North Eastern. I always defended him, and at times when I look back it dawns on me that I was defending the ‘undefendable’ and it made me start unnecessary wars with political figures.

I have heard claims that there were certain levels of intervention before I was purged from the Majority seat. I did not send anyone to intervene for me. In the first PG, the President and I had a one-on-one chat on this matter for 45 minutes and there were certain things that he wanted me to do.

One of them was to support the BBI, and I categorically told him that I will not support it, not even on the floor of the House. However, I believe that what broke the camel’s back was when I said I would not table the BBI Bill in Parliament as the Leader of the Majority.

My reasons for the defiance were that people from my region had not been given what they deserved in the proposals. Mandera, Marsabit, Turkana, Tana River and Lamu were all going to lose money. So I told the President to replace me.

Other than that, BBI was a political arrangement to build a super coalition that would deny William Ruto power. That is why the document created the office of the Prime Minister and two deputies so that Raila becomes the president, another one — maybe Kalonzo Musyoka — a running mate, Musalia Mudavadi the PM, Gideon Moi deputy PM, and Moses Wetang’ula Speaker of the National Assembly.

It wasn’t a unity initiative. In fact, if you read about the problem of unity in Kenya, it centres on the Kenyattas and the Odingas since the days of Jaramogi as Vice President and Jomo as the president.

Raila and Uhuru are the two leading members from these families and they have to pave the way for other people now. As long as one is a candidate and the other one wants to fix the succession, Kenya will forever be divided.

Still, I can tell you now without blinking an eye that the men to beat in the next election will be William Ruto and Raila Odinga. They have serious political networks across the country, have substantial political and fanatical following, and have worked together and reached positions that are very close to the presidency.

The rest, I don’t like calling them donkeys, but they are jokers. For Mr Odinga, the Handshake has made him lose a huge chunk of his traditional support base. William Ruto will get substantial votes there.

UDA’s grand goal

For us in, UDA we are moving away from the discussion that forming a government is about individual leaders. Those telling us that Ruto must get a running mate from Mt Kenya are, therefore, wrong.

They are looking for positions and we will not be drawn to that discussion. That is our point of departure with former minister Mwangi Kiunjuri and Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria.

Kuria, Kiunjuri and others are just jostling for power. They want to hide behind their community and region. It is an insult to people when their leaders stand on podiums and say that they want to be told the deputy president will come from “us”, and that we must get “various ministers and other positions yet they come from a region that has produced three of the four presidents of the Republic of Kenya since independence.

Kuria should be ashamed of himself. That should not come from leaders. If you want to go down that route, then let Kenya be divided and everybody goes with his or her region. What they are doing is blackmail, intimidation and coercion using the ethnic card, and I think that should not be allowed.

In North Eastern a new formation calling itself Upya has come up too, and it is also a fraud. It is part of a scheme being hatched by the State to divide William Ruto’s influence in many parts of the country by forming regional and ethnic parties.

As for me, I will see whether Garissa Township people can allow me to continue as their member of parliament, or to join the Legislature in another capacity, even as a Speaker, or to join the Executive when we form government as a minister.

But, at my age, I am not very much interested in positions. I want to dedicate more time to my faith and to spend more time with God and my camels. My children are all grown up now, they are through with university.

“Seen it all”

Even if I become an ordinary citizen who occasionally can drive to State House and have a cup of tea with William Ruto and talk about our past, that is fine.

It is good to leave politics when your people love you, and my people love me. However, I will spend more energy, time and resources to campaign for the presidency of William Ruto.

Since the fallout with the President, the DP has said some of his allies are being persecuted using the EACC, DCI and KRA. None of that has happened to me yet, but an environment has been created to denote that you should not be seen next to William Ruto.

You cannot even have a cup of tea with him, or even call him. You cannot attend his meetings. In another administration, the men and women who hold positions in those institutions will be held accountable for what they have done outside the parameters of the law.

As I wrap up this, my advice to leaders is simple: Don’t trust anyone in politics. Don’t trust the journey he walks with you. Don’t trust where he places you. Politics in Kenya is synonymous with betrayal, deceit, humiliation, backstabbing and throwing people under the bus.

There is no honesty here, no ethics, no moral etiquette. At any given time, if a politician, regardless of his position, tells you to close your eyes so he can pray for you, keep one eye open. Raila Odinga betrayed William Ruto and I in 2007 and Uhuru Kenyatta betrayed William Ruto and I between 2018 and 2022.

I have seen it all; so the only thing remaining for me is to see if William Ruto will betray me. But I think if we will keep playing politics he will betray me, and that’s the truth. Every day when sitting with him, I tell him; “My friend, when you go to State House, I do not think you will be different from Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga. You will also betray me.”