Deputy President William Ruto was Thursday locked out of a key Executive meeting chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta as the Jubilee divorce gets acrimonious.
But the DP said he only skipped the meeting because he was not invited.
At the high table next to the President sat Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i—seen as ‘Uhuru’s Mr Fix It’. Matiang’i chairs the powerful National Development Implementation and Communication Cabinet Committee.
Ruto’s communications director Emmanuel Talam said his boss cannot skip government meetings if invited.
“As far as I know, the Deputy President was not invited. But State House can clarify,” Talam told the Star.
However, when contacted to shed more light on the issue, State House spokesperson Kanze Dena simply said: “No comment.”
The meeting was attended by Cabinet Secretaries, Chief Administrative Secretaries and Principal Secretaries in what State House said was to “discuss government priorities for the current calendar year”.
Dena said the meeting deliberated on the status of ongoing national government programmes covering Big 4 agenda and Vision 2030 flagship projects.
For weeks now, CSs have been visiting projects across the country as they race against time to deliver the President’s legacy projects as they fight-off claims Uhuru had failed.
“Further, the President instructed the officials to ensure prudent utilisation of public resources in service delivery, saying Kenyans must always get the highest value return for their money.
“The head of state urged the officers to embrace teamwork and unity of purpose to deliver the promise of a better and prosperous Kenya for all,” Dena said in a statement to newsrooms.
Uhuru and Ruto have been exchanging barbs in recent weeks. They met for the first time in months on Monday during the burial of former Cabinet Minister Simeon Nyachae.
The failure to invite the DP for the critical meeting seemed to put the last nail in the coffin of his deteriorating relationship with Uhuru.
In the meeting that started at 10 am and ended minutes after 2pm, Matiang’i sat at the high table, taking a position the DP would ordinarily occupy.
This comes after Uhuru publicly challenged Ruto on Friday last week to quit if he is dissatisfied with the Jubilee administration. But the following day, a defiant Ruto fired back, saying he will not resign.
It is not the first time the DP is being locked out of such high-profile meetings where crucial government agenda is discussed.
The duo’s relationship began straining soon after their reelection in 2017. This was suppressed for months.
Early this month while at the Sagana State Lodge, Uhuru intensified his attacks on Ruto, saying Kenyan youth need proper jobs instead of wheelbarrows propagated by the DP under his hustler politics.
On July 8 last year, the DP was locked out of a virtual meeting that was chaired by Uhuru from the same venue.
Then, Dena argued the meeting was convened by the National Development Implementation and Communication Cabinet Committee chaired by Matiang’i— she said the team invited Uhuru to speak.
In January 2019, Uhuru elevated Matiang’i to chair the committee, which has supervisory roles across government. The move was seen as a strategic decision to whittle down Ruto’s influence.
The Matiang’i committee brings on board all CSs, Attorney General Kihara Kariuki and Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. It reports directly to the President.
There has been a cold war between Matiang’i and Ruto, with the former at times overshadowing the DP in some presidential functions.
Last year, Matiang’i was at hand to receive the President during a one-day Cabinet retreat in Manyani, Taita Taveta county.
Cabinet broke for Christmas holidays last year and CSs resumed duties in early January. Since then, they have embarked on joint inspection of projects across the country.
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