Ruto and Gachagua embroiled in cold over government jobs despite the public image of a good working relationship.
President William Ruto’s State House is beginning to feel tense due to heated competition for government positions.
The recent public outburst by the governor of Nyeri, Mutahi Kahiga, regarding an alleged plan to shortchange the Mount Kenya region has shed light on the clandestine palace battles taking place over important government positions.
While President Ruto and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua have portrayed themselves as having a positive working relationship since assuming office, rumors of a simmering conflict have surfaced. According to Mr. Kahiga, certain people have been attempting to sow dissension between the two.
According to a report published by the Daily Nation, individuals in the inner circle of the Kenya Kwanza administration indicate that the differences between the two top leaders deepened during the nomination of Principal Secretaries (PS), when they each drew their own list of preferred nominees for consideration by the Public Service Commission (PSC).
Due to the differences, the shortlist had to be revised, necessitating the PSC’s addition of 108 people to an earlier list. PSC increased its initial shortlist of 477 candidates to a total of 585 finalists for the plum seats.
President Ruto’s loyalists from regions outside of his Rift Valley backyard have reportedly been left out of the main appointments so far because DP Gachagua is reportedly lobbying for an equal share of slots for his Mt. Kenya region in all appointments.
The recent rejection of Dr. Ruto’s ally, former United Republican Party (URP) Secretary-General Fred Muteti, to the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), in a plot devised by Mt Kenya MPs, provided insight into the cause of the brewing political tensions.
Out of the 51 names submitted to Parliament for review, 13 PS nominations were from each of the regions represented by President Ruto—the Rift Valley—and DP Rigathi—the Mt. Kenya.
The division of the PS positions has subsequently been the subject of court petitions, among others from the Law Society of Kenya (LSK), asking the court to nullify the list and require the PSC to choose the candidates again.
Using allegations of “back and forth and betrayal in crucial appointments,” a source within the ruling coalition claimed that a faction within the administration was responsible for the court applications.
The Nyeri Governor on Wednesday claimed that certain individuals were fueling discord between Ruto and Gachagua.
“When you hear the little noise, it is because there could be one or two people around him (Dr. Ruto) who are trying to portray a wrong picture of him. But I want to tell you as I stand on this pulpit that when Dr. Ruto agrees with you on something, he fulfills it. He is a truthful man and we will continue supporting him,” said Mr. Kahiga.
“We must make our son (Mr. Rigathi) very strong. When fire breaks out, it mostly lands on number two in the office. I don’t know whether you have realized that. Continue praying for him. We must stand with our brother and hold his hand firmly so that he can help his boss (Dr. Ruto),” he added, during a church service at New Life Church in Nyeri presided over by the DP’s wife, Pastor Dorcas Rigathi.
Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei –a close ally of Dr. Ruto – told Sunday Nation that the Nyeri county boss ‘was within his right to speak his mind’ but denied claims that a faction within the government was out to frustrate the appointment of PSs.
“I can confirm to you that there is no faction in the government supporting the case by LSK. Those are speculations. The government is intact and all is well. Even the DP spoke a day after the governor made the remarks and corrected him,” said Mr. Cherargei.
He was referring to a subsequent public address by DP Gachagua, in which he said that the political marriage between Kenya Kwanza allies was a ‘permanent’ affair.
“We will continue to consult at every level and we hope the court can see sense and rule against the case so that we can have the PSs in office,” added Senator Cherargei.
At the same time, the DP’s decision to rally Mt Kenya MPs to vote leaders from the region in total defiance against a lineup approved at State House is evidence of the simmering cold war.
His current plan to rally and consolidate Mt Kenya region behind himself ahead of 2027 also appears to be an offensive against the President, who believes to have been voted almost to the last man by the vote-rich basket without much influence by any of the regional leaders.
The State House meeting had settled on former Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar, ex-nominated MP David Sankok, ex-Nandi Woman Representative Zipporah Kering, ex-nominated senator Falhadha Iman Dekow, and former United Republican Party (URP) secretary-general Fred Muteti.
But Mt Kenya leaders ganged up against the State House lineup to vote for Mwangi Maina and former Igembe Central MP Cyprian Kubai Iringo, who were not in the preferred list. They also voted for Azimio’s Kanini Kega.