I’m ready to ditch Jubilee for UDA, Ruto says
Deputy President William Ruto on Thursday, for the first time, said he is prepared to exit the ruling Jubilee Party for the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) as his vehicle of choice in the 2022 presidential elections, citing what he said was a continued bid to ostracise those allied to him at the ruling party.
He also hinted at a possible union with Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga, whom he celebrated as one fighting a similar war in the opposition — emergence of tribal parties.
In what seemed like a swipe at the One Kenya Alliance of Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi, Kanu’s Gideon Moi, his Wiper Democratic Movement counterpart Kalonzo Musyoka, and Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula, Dr Ruto dismissed what he said was a growing trend of propping up regional leaders to concentrate their parties on their regions.
“Some people think I have problems with Raila. I do not. These differences are political. And there are things I agree with Raila. He is agreed on the need to form national parties and he is facing similar issues (in the opposition) I am facing of regional chieftains. And I want to say this: If anybody wants to partner with us to bring up the hustler, we have no problem. We support, we will work together,” said Dr Ruto during an interview with Radio Citizen.
While he had let his allies run the UDA vehicle, and has avoided campaign trails for the just-concluded by-elections, Dr Ruto came out in support of the party, a rebrand of Jubilee affiliate Party for Development and Reforms (PDR), one he said will be the next big thing as Kenya heads towards the next elections.
“If it gets to a point where they do not want us to be there in Jubilee, then we must have a different plan. You cannot wait to hit a wall. Going forward, if there is no agreement, then we will plan ourselves with UDA. We have built UDA in partnership with Jubilee. It is not us starting afresh. We are just going on with what we already have,” Dr Ruto said at the interview.
Like his allies, Dr Ruto defended his association with UDA, saying since it was an affiliate of Jubilee, there was nothing wrong for him to associate with it.
The ruling Jubilee Party, however, argues that it was disingenuous for the Ruto team to be in both parties at the same time, and that they should resign to seek a fresh mandate in the new UDA party.
“UDA and Jubilee are one. We have a coalition agreement with them and we have been working together. If they break Jubilee, trying to make it a tribal party, we will build UDA as the national party we had hoped Jubilee will be,” he said.
“Jubilee now only meets to discipline and chase people. They are always plotting to kick so and so from such and such position for being allied to such and such a person.”
UDA, a rebrand of PDR, has five elected leaders in Parliament led by Senate Deputy Majority Leader Fatuma Dullo, who is also the Isiolo senator, as well as Wajir Woman Rep Fatuma Gedi, Tarbaj’s Ahmed Bashane, Mark Lomunokol of Kacheliba and Ijara’s Sophia Abdi.
Arguing that his vision for a national party was still intact, Dr Ruto said just as they had hoped Jubilee will be the ruling party that was truly national, it was possible to build a similar outfit using the same strategy.
“We created a government and a party like Jubilee because we know we cannot find a national solution without a national party. The experience we had from Jubilee, we will use the same to make UDA a national party,” Dr Ruto said.
He dismissed as premature the celebrations that UDA had lost in Kabuchai, Matungu and Machakos.
“In Kabuchai, Matungu, and Machakos, UDA was running against tribal parties in those regions.
When I call a meeting of MPs allied to me, there are 150 people who are from all over Kenya. And I know that is how to solve Kenya’s problems. We are going a retrogressive way of founding our democracy on tribal political parties led by regional tribal chieftains. Those are enemies of the nation,” Dr Ruto said.
Dr Ruto rubbished what he said was an emerging trend of balkanising Kenya on regional blocs whose leaders he said were being propped for leadership.
“We have a sad situation where Kenya is being taken back to regional kingships. So that tribal leaders unite and then lead Kenya. What is wrong with us? As a DP who has seen how and why it is important to bring people together, how do we go back to tribal politics?” Dr Ruto asked.
“Parties are now being pushed to have regional parties and all leaders from those regions pushed to then follow them. But the problem with when you start dividing people, there is no end to it.”
He defended his Hustler Nation manta, promising a Sh30 billion empowerment fund that he said will be given to small scale businesses on an interest-free basis, an idea he said will push many into money-making situations, with ability to then pay taxes.
He rubbished those that he said was pushing for a debt restructuring as a solution to the ballooning debt.
“That is not the solution. The solution is to work the economy,” he said.
The DP celebrated the Jubilee government’s development agenda from 2013, taking credit for what he said was a transformative agenda whose speed he said was derailed by the BBI.
“I believe we would have done even better had we maintained the speed we had from 2013, post-2018. But I believe there is still time to do the right things. We have built the Standard Gauge Railway, the roads, connected Kenyans to the national grid, and built technical colleges all over Kenya. With the same vigour, I believe we can finish the Big Four agenda that we started,” he said.
He defended the Jubilee government’s delivery of its election promises.
“If we promised ten things, and we have delivered eight, isn’t that an impressive performance? That is a A- in an exam, maybe an A,” he said.
Dr Ruto asked Kenyans on the frontline fight against Covid-19 to take the vaccine now being administered, even as he dismissed fears that politicians and leaders had run away from the vaccine, saying it was by design, not default.
“We decided as the Cabinet that let us start with frontline health workers, those with the highest level of exposure in their work. It will not have been good for me as DP to be the first, and take the place of a nurse or a doctor that badly needs the vaccination. We want to ask Kenyans that when the vaccine is available to you, go get vaccinated,” he said.