Deputy President William Ruto’s record of lying to the public with a straight face has been the subject of debate in many forums.
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From labelling himself as a “hustler” (poor Kenyan) to feeding the masses with a make-believe rag to riches narrative, the billionaire DP has exploited the naivety of Kenyan voters in a manner not witnessed in the country before.
Yet, while Ruto has become synonymous with propagating falsehoods, not many Kenyans appeared ready for the big fat lie he unleashed earlier this week.
I’m yet to start my campaigns, Ruto
Speaking at his Karen residence on Monday, November 22, Ruto stated that he was yet to start campaigning for his 2022 presidential bid and that the political rallies he has been holding across the country are part of his official duties as the DP.
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He even sarcastically remarked that government work can also be done without one wearing a tie.
Both friends and foes could not help but laugh at this barefaced fib.
It did not help matters that the lie came from a man who has been repeatedly remarking that “wajinga waliisha Kenya (Kenya no longer has fools)”.
It is an incontestable fact that Ruto started his 2022 campaigns even before he was sworn in for his second term in 2017.
And immediately he was sworn in, he rebelliously absconded his official duties and even ignored President Uhuru Kenyatta’s advice to halt premature campaigns and first help him deliver on promises made to Kenyans.
Outdoing his boss
In what was a deliberate and well-calculated plan to take the reins of power from his boss, Ruto started by organising and attending homecoming parties for his political allies across the country.
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During the events, he used his cronies to popularise his presidential bid while reminding anyone who cared to listen that the Mount Kenya region owed him a political debt since he had also supported one of their own, Uhuru.
It is imperative to note that most homecoming parties for governors, members of parliament and other politicians took place before the repeat presidential election of October 26, 2017.
Yes, Ruto started his 2022 campaigns before the Jubilee government even secured its second term.
After he was done with the homecoming rallies, Ruto engaged a higher gear and swiftly embarked on a crafty mission to succeed Uhuru by hijacking government projects and using them to rally Kenyans behind his bid.
Ghost projects launch
He traversed the country launching all manner of projects, some of which were even non-existent, as unsuspecting Kenyans cheered him on while some politicians clung on to his coat pockets for political relevance.
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The National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee exposed Ruto’s insatiable appetite for launching ‘ghost’ projects when it questioned his involvement in the commissioning of the KSh5 billion Lower Nzoia Flood Mitigation and Irrigation project without involving the ministry in charge.
The government was forced to clarify that the project was a mere skeleton and was not ripe for commissioning.
He launched several other road projects and stadia that the government wasn’t aware of.
One such project was the KSh 2.1 billion road connecting Kakamega and Uasin Gishu counties, which stalled immediately after his roadside declaration.
The president was deeply upset by Ruto’s defiant and self-serving conduct that he publicly dismissed his outings as “Tanga Tanga” during a rally they both attended.
This was in reference to his deputy’s unbecoming habit of hopping from one part of the country to the other without doing anything in line with the government’s agenda.
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Ruto’s wayward ways swiftly drove a wedge between him and Kenyatta, who would later turn to opposition leader Raila Odinga for support in the form of the Handshake after he realized he was facing a revolt within his own Jubilee Party house.
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Uhuru would later trim Ruto’s influence and push him away from the centre of power to save the government from sinking.
He handed more powers to Interior CS Fred Matiang’i, who has since coordinated government services perfectly.
But the changes did not stop Ruto; they essentially further spurred his raw ambitions for power. It is at this point that he turned his focus to making generous donations to churches and other targeted groups to win over more supporters, a strategy he still applies to date.
For four years now, the DP has been splashing millions of shillings in harambees and ‘empowerment’ forums every single weekend.
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Raila recently challenged Ruto to declare his source of wealth, estimating that the DP spends KSh 100 million monthly on political campaigns despite earning KSh 2 million over the same period.
Everywhere he goes, the second-in-command charms crowds with a bunch of notes to woo them to support his presidential bid for more goodies.
The monies, whose source is unknown, have sparked skirmishes and even threatened national unity as was the case in Kisumu earlier this month.
In a day, the Tanga Tanga chief holds at least six rallies to drum up support for his 2022 ambitions; he has been doing this since 2017 without fail. Last month, Ruto conducted a record 167 rallies across the country.
Interestingly, all this while, the president was mainly outside the country on official duty. But Ruto, as the principal assistant, didn’t chair a single ministerial or departmental committee to support his boss.
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He was on a campaign trail working on plans to take over the government after Uhuru’s exit. It appears Ruto’s greatest aspiration is to become Kenya’s fifth president at whatever cost, not to serve.
So determined is Ruto to achieve this that he has even converted the official residence of the deputy president in Karen into a full-time campaign base. The mansion has literally become a beehive of political activities hosting all sorts of individuals paying allegiance to him. It has satirically been branded the ‘hustler’s mansion’.
For Ruto to claim he is busy supervising government projects and has not started campaigning is not only a big fat lie but an insult to millions of Kenyans who bestowed upon him the responsibility of being their deputy president.
He is perhaps feeling guilty after realising he has, for the first time in history, taken Kenyans the country through five years of uninterrupted yet divisive politicking at the expense of service delivery.
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But it’s too late in the day for him to stop; the official 2022 campaign window is just about to be flung open.
Ruto should thus ruefully finish what he started, knowing all too well that voters have been silently watching his every ruinous step and will decisively make their voices heard when the hour of reckoning comes.
The writer is Olivia Chebet, a regular commentator on social, economic and political affairs.
The views expressed here are his and do not in any way represent the position of TUKO.co.ke.
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