DP William Ruto talks with police officers manning armored personell carrier, February 27th ,2017, deployed in Chesongoch in Elgeyo/Marakwet to quell the cattle rustling menace.picCHarles KimaniDPPS
Hate him or love him, Deputy President William Ruto is a smart, self-made politician who rose to the top league of the political establishment in a short time to become the most formidable politician in the country today.
The self-styled ‘hustler’ is known for his sheer hard work and aggressive political nature that saw him rally the Rift Valley voting bloc behind President Uhuru Kenyatta to win the 2013 General Election.
In Abraham Mutwol’s book, ‘The Great Inspiring Life Lesson from William Ruto’, the author paints the picture of a man whose rise from obscurity to the pinnacle of Kenyan politics was almost miraculous.
“But the word ‘miracle’ does not do him justice, especially if you figure out that close to 30 years earlier, he had been peddling groundnuts – in a desperate bid to survive – in the streets of Eldoret,” writes Mr Mutwol.
Those who know him well say Ruto entered the realm of politics when he began campaigning for Kanu presidential candidate Daniel arap Moi.
The 1992 presidential election came at the right time and Ruto was part of the team that founded the Youth for Kanu ’92.
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The group successfully campaigned for Mr Moi’s re-election. However, the “Young Turks” did not “eat big” and therefore began nursing their own political ambitions.
Five years later, Ruto had developed his own wings, but they were only big enough to fly him to the Eldoret North parliamentary seat after he and other vibrant youths became Kanu ‘rebels’ who ran against Moi’s preferred candidate, and won.
He surprised many when he floored experienced politicians like the late Reuben Chesire and William Morogo arap Saina to bag the seat on a Kanu ticket.
Fast forward to 2002, and another General Election was knocking on the door. Ruto was still interested in his Eldoret North seat.
However, he was deployed by Moi to execute “Project Uhuru” who was then being helped to capture the presidency. Their endeavours, however, fell flat when Mwai Kibaki won the election.
In 2006, an ambitious Ruto did the unexpected. He declared that he would contest the presidency. This did not go down well with the Kanu camp, including former President Moi, who immediately condemned his decision.
Incensed, Ruto crossed to the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party where he attempted to get the party ticket for the presidency.
He contested against Raila Odinga and Musalia Mudavadi but came third after the former carried the day.
Moi had seen his own man turn against him; his protégé would haunt him in the days to come as he developed his own political clout.
Ruto, who was a Raila ally in the 2007 election, showed his political muscle when he led the ODM wave that swept the Rift Valley and all the seats.
He had delivered a vote for Raila, only for his new fame to be marred by the post-election chaos.
He got the Agriculture and later Higher Education ministry dockets, but in 2010, he was stripped of the ‘minister’ title when he was accused of corruption.
With the appointment gone, Ruto, who was still the Eldoret North MP, had ample time to lay ground for greater things.
He broke away from Raila’s group in 2011 and formed the United Republican Party, indicating that he would run for the presidency on a ticket from the new party.
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But the self-confessed born-again Christian, whose family he says has struggled and faced many obstacles during his political career, has been accused of many wrongdoings.
The worst of them was his indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to face three crimes against humanity charges – murder, deportation or forcible transfer of population and persecution allegedly committed during the 2007-2008 post-election violence.
The case was dropped on April 5, 2016, when Trial Chamber V(A) decided by majority that the case against him and Joshua Sang should be terminated.
The DP has also been accused of dabbling in corruption on various occasions. His name has prominently featured in at least six mega corruption scandals and he has struggled to clear it with some success.
The maize scandal cropped up when he served as Minister for Agriculture in the Grand Coalition Government of 2009.
Ruto was accused of illegally selling maize from the country’s strategic grain reserves by Ikolomani MP and now Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale. He survived a vote of no confidence.
The Deputy Speaker then rejected documents presented in Parliament linking Ruto to the sale of the grains. Ruto blamed his tribulations on his political enemies.
Although there was no direct evidence linking him to the grabbing of Langata Road Primary School land, Ruto’s name featured prominently in the saga that shocked the country.
He admitted to being a shareholder of Weston Hotel, which was accused of attempting to convert the school’s playground into a parking lot.
It was also alleged that Weston had been built on land grabbed from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority. At first, Ruto denied owning the hotel but later admitted it was his. He however dismissed the land grabbing allegations.
Another land saga involving Adrian Muteshi was perhaps the worst scandal and badly exposed the Deputy President in court. He was fined Sh5 million for allegedly trespassing on Mr Muteshi’s 100-acre parcel in Uasin Gishu County.
The court ruled that Ruto did not provide evidence that he bought the land and ordered him to pay the fine for illegally using the land since 2008.
Ruto was also accused of hiring a private jet for Sh100 million to tour West Africa in 2013, at a time when the Government was struggling to meet its financial obligations. The “hustler jet” scandal report was later trashed by Parliament.