THE BITTER ENDING OF UHURU-RUTO BROMANCE AS NARRATED BY ADEN DUALE
President William Ruto’s awkward political reality after supporting former President Uhuru Kenyatta in four presidential elections, has been captured in the 371-page autobiography, For The Record, by his bosom buddy, Defence Cabinet Secretary Aden Duale.In an unprecedented move, Ruto – a sitting President – has penned a riveting endorsement for the book where he opens up on his fall out with his predecessor, the humiliation of watching his allies axed, and the collapse of a grand political idea in Jubilee Party.The book is the first written by a high-profile, sitting government official. President Ruto describes it as a “spell-binding read”, one that opens the door into powerful offices, “where one can eavesdrop on private conversations that shaped Kenya’s politics and government policy.”
“I never thought that President Kenyatta, the man I had campaigned wholeheartedly for in 2013 and 2017, could turn around and stick a sharp knife in my back,” the President states of the spectacle of having his predecessor support their 2013 competitor, Raila Odinga.
In the book, Ruto says he had believed that he and President Kenyatta had forged a strong and genuine friendship. He understood that they both believed in the vision of a united country with national parties, not tribal ones often used as vessels for political power.In the forward, he reveals how the Jubilee “Armageddon” unravelled.
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“That bubble of a united country burst in the first Jubilee Parliamentary Group meeting after the 2017 elections. The President went ballistic as he lay down his agenda for his second and final term. He read a riot act and emphasized that in his second term, things had to be different,” Ruto reveals.He says Kenyatta gave a clear notice that he was the President, the man who held the destiny of Kenya in his hands, and that he – Ruto – would be at his mercy. “There was only one centre of power, he said. It disturbed me, but that was the job-serving at the pleasure of the President. I took it like a man.”
He writes that he was alarmed when the President’s friends began taking him head-on, including through insults.
“Moreover, it stung when the President claimed that the presidency was not a relay between the Kikuyu and the Kalenjin. All along, I had hoped we had turned a corner, that we were going to change the conversation to real issues affecting Kenyans, not the usual tribal tropes,” Ruto says.
Then-President Uhuru Kenyatta flanked by his deputy President William Ruto and Majority Leader Aden Duale at State House, Nairobi, in December 2014.
President Ruto observes that Kenyatta had ‘already engineered an alliance with Raila Odinga and wanted to amend the Constitution to disenfranchise certain parts of the country and feed the entitlement of other regions.
He says although they claimed they were building bridges to bring national unity, they made sure to isolate him, and purged his allies from government.
“They fired my allies on flimsy accusations to politically smear anyone who was seen with me. Duale is one of those who paid the price.”
He says on the day Duale was “politically hanged, drawn, and quartered,” he had no words.
“Even when the President nudged me to speak, I knew he just wanted to further humiliate me. He was firing my close friend, a trusted political lieutenant, yet he wanted me to speak, knowing fully well that I wasn’t going to publicly confront him.”
Ruto admits that saving Duale meant a public confrontation with Uhuru and read the signs and declined.
“As we left the slaughterhouse at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre, Duale asked me, “My friend, what happened?”
“I couldn’t give legitimacy to your hanging. I spoke with my silence,” he answered.
Most revealing is Ruto’s statement that months after their fall out, Kenyatta would shock him with a claim that he dumped him because he came to know that he (Ruto) was working with Raila to impeach him.
“It didn’t make sense. I was not angry, I was horrified. Why would I help him get to power and then push for his removal? I was ashamed on his behalf, because, through his utterances, the politics of lies, deceit and betrayal was now firmly inside State House,” he says.
Ruto reveals that Duale stood up to security bureaucrats in Kenyatta’s administration when they were confronting the Al Shabaab menace. He says the security agents chose to sideline him, but paid for it.
“They tried to sideline, but Duale was so good at his work that if he kept off, there was no way the security laws could have seen the light of day. Yes, the bureacrats in their overzealous nature added illegal clause, but thankfully, the courts did their job,” he reveals.
Notably, the President avers that Duale had his reservations about winding up the URP party for Jubilee. He said Duale warned him, drawing lessons from single-party era when political dreams were killed and ambitions crushed inside the ruling party.
“A Jubilee party could do that, he warned,” Ruto captures Duale’s concerns.
Defence Cabinet Secretary Aden Duale. [Kelly Ayodi, Standard]
Ruto however ignored him, and bought into the Jubilee idea hoping that it could work, but also hoping history would be kind to them incase it failed.
“As it turned out, he was right. I was wrong,” Ruto admits to the folly of bringing down URP.
“I still had trust in the capacity of people to do good. I believed that we, all the politicians in Jubilee, wanted the best for Kenya. National unity was at the top of that agenda,” Ruto says.
The President recalls that he began working with Duale in ODM, and quit the party and URP with their eyes on the prize.
“We succeeded only to become outsiders in our own government! We tried again and succeeded. Now, we have the opportunity to change lives and turn dreams into reality,” he says.
Ruto hails Duale for his audacity, courage and determination. He observes that many politicians never sit down to take a look at their lives.
“Duale must be lauded for the courage to lift the veil on aspects of bureaucratic secrecy, selfish ambition, and political chess that negatively impacted the governance of this country,” Ruto says.He hopes that books as Duale’s will tell generations to come about the power of dreams, the value of friendship, integrity and honesty in politics, and deliver the much-needed caution that “stinging betrayal remains a defining feature of the Kenyan political sphere.”
“Life has to be about genuine connections, trustworthy alliances, and meaningful teams that make life better for the majority of people. Any other version of politics is too selfish, wasteful and unsustainable,” he says.
“This book bares the soul of Kenya’s pioneer Leader of the Majority Party in the National Assembly under the 2010 Constitution. It puts together the hitherto unheard conversations that shaped the Jubilee Administration. It is a spell-binding read. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope Duale will keep writing,” Ruto concludes his foreword.
In his prologue, Duale notes that there are two sides to the coin of political leadership, one being rosy, the other being terrible and depressing.
“I have also witnessed the deceit, the betrayal, the subversive power games engineered by the Deep State, and the cutthroat blinding ambition that drives many of the political class,” notes Duale in his book.
Duale says he never thought Uhuru would ever betray Ruto. “But appears that betrayal is in the DNA of Kenyan politics.”