Deputy President William Ruto on Saturday stepped up his efforts to woo former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka into his camp, as he seeks new alliances to stay in the game at a time when formations for the 2022 General Election are shaping up.
Dr Ruto reminded Mr Musyoka that he was the one who “helped” ODM leader Raila Odinga to be Prime Minister and also helped Mr Kenyatta clinch the presidency twice.
Speaking in Makueni County at the burial of Rael Mbeleete Mailu, the mother of Switzerland envoy and former Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu, which was also attended by Mr Musyoka, Dr Ruto urged Mr Musyoka to consider a partnership.
“You never know. Luck might… ” he said and later took a swipe at Mr Musyoka for supporting Mr Odinga twice “yet he can’t pass”.
Mr Musyoka however replied that he is keen on backing President Uhuru Kenyatta, a commitment he made a year ago during the burial of his father.
He termed as unwavering his commitment to work with President Kenyatta who he hailed for being genuinely committed to uniting the country through the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
In a surprise move, Mr Musyoka faulted his supporters for trying to lock other leaders from the region. He also faulted Mr Muthama for criticising the BBI.
Dr Ruto’s argument was that he can almost guarantee a winning ticket.
“Stephen, because you’ve tried to help this one and it failed, and I tried helping him and it failed, and I helped Uhuru become President, and now Uhuru is retiring, now, my friend… ” he said.
Dr Ruto further asked Mr Musyoka’s allies not push him into being over ambitious with his political aspirations.
Dr Ruto was reacting to calls by a section of Mr Musyoka’s allies who had insisted that the former Vice President should gun for the presidency in 2022 and nothing less.
“I was also told to vie by those who support me. But later I did my math and reasoned that those who vie are many but winning is a different thing. Don’t give Kalonzo instructions. Tell him to plan with others,” he said.
He added: “Mr Musyoka should be flexible in his ambitions. He should not be misguided by his allies some of whom could only be interested in clinging on his coattails to win their political seats,” Dr Ruto said.
At the event, Dr Ruto delivered President Kenyatta’s eulogy in which the Head of State mourned the late Mama Rael, who died last week aged 90, as a virtuous woman.
The ceremony was also attended by Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen, Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua, former Machakos Senator Johnstone Muthama, businessman Jimi Wanjigi, former presidential candidate Martha Karua, and a number of MPs.
It was at the burial that Mr Musyoka confirmed that he met Dr Ruto in South Sudan last week.
He said that he turned down the DP’s invitation to ride with him to Juba to avoid speculations.
“I am working with the President until 2022. This does not mean I shall not be correcting him when he errs,” said Mr Musyoka.
A number of Dr Ruto’s backers also joined in the call.
“The same way he is working with President Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga, Mr Musyoka should also work with DP Ruto. They should strike an alliance that should deliver the next government,” said Mr Murkomen.
But even as Dr Ruto was courting the Wiper party boss, one of his erstwhile strong lieutenants had a change of heart.
East African Legislative Assembly MP Mpuru Aburi, one of Dr Ruto’s staunch supporters, declared he was now joining the camp backing BBI grassroots meetings.
Addressing his supporters at Muthara market during demonstrations over intended annexing of 10,000 acres of community land by the Kenya Defence Forces, Mr Aburi said he would soon join BBI proponents in drumming support for it.
The former Tigania East MP said he had a change of heart after President Kenyatta promised to address the problems facing the agriculture industry.
Mr Aburi said Meru MPs were particularly happy with the Head of State’s appointment of former Meru Governor Peter Munya to the docket, saying it signalled hope to the dwindling fortunes of miraa farmers.
Mr Aburi joins a number of politicians who have recently decamped from Dr Ruto’s team.