At the age of 31, William Ruto was elected MP of Eldoret North on a KANU ticket in 1997. The then President Daniel Moi appointed him as an assistant minister for Home affairs in 1998, a stamp of trust the President had in the young Bill. Indeed, earlier on in 1992, when political temperatures heightened after the repeal of Section 2 A and the opposition was a threat to Moi, Ruto had proved his worth as a mobilizer, being part of the Youth for KANU , YK’92 an outfit used to galvanize support for Moi.
Rising from humble beginnings, Ruto ranks, arguably as the third most influential politician in Kenya today; the other, Raila and Uhuru born to the first Vice President and President of Kenya respectively. While the two have curved out their own sphere of influence, one can safely attribute a portion of their success to the names they bear. Ruto on the other hand, born to Daniel and Sarah Cheruiyot, has but clawed his way up the ladder.
Described as ruthlessly ambitious, he declared his intention to run for the Presidency in 2006. Then in KANU, he defected, declaring KANU a shell, and joined Raila Odinga’s ODM where they squared it out at the nominations.
He garnered 368 votes despite the fact that Rift Valley had close to 700 delegates at the conference. A few say the nomination was but a formality, with agreements already in the background. Some say, Ruto’s move to ODM was but out of a realization that the Kalenjin community had already made up its mind to support Raila. The community felt disenfranchised, after Kibaki relieved some of their sons off prominence in the national leadership.
There is nothing particular to show that Ruto and Raila have shared a philosophy. Their camaraderie barely lasted two years, just in the run up to the 2007 and towards 2008, problems had started emerging. Perhaps, a silent reminder of what is seen as the Deputy President’s nature to rarely keep friends unless convenient and useful for that time.
Should the assumption that Ruto followed his community which had already crossed to ODM stand some truth, then Raila, in portraying Ruto as the de facto leader of the Kalenjin nation in the run up to 2007 elections, but created the monster that ate his presidential ambitions.
Away from his ambitious nature, Ruto is a remarked performer. His constituency, Eldoret North, was consistently ranked highly in the management of CDF. The country celebrated his energy as minister of Agriculture and minister of Higher education.
But as it goes, those who are phenomenally gifted are equally phenomenally flawed. It would appear Ruto is good at execution and follow through but lacks in the depth of planning and thought. Throughout his stay in Parliament, there is little proof that he ever moved more than one motion. And while he performs greatly, he has also been accused to loot greatly.
In October 2010, the then President Kibaki suspended William Ruto from his office pending conclusion of the Nairobi Chief Magistrates Case No. 973 of 2004 as allowed by the Nairobi High Court Suit No. 1192/2005. In the case Ruto and four other persons faced fraud charges over the alleged sale of a piece of land in Ngong forest to Kenya Pipeline Company Ltd for a total of Sh272 million. The minister allegedly received Sh96 million at various intervals during the alleged transaction.
At that point however, Ruto had survived a censure motion when he was implicated in the infamous Maize Scandal. He blamed his woes on Odinga, an art that has proved successful and convenient for the Deputy President since then. The case was later thrown out on a technicality.
His woes with the law peaked when the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court alleged that he was a mastermind of the large scale violence rocking the Rift Valley in the aftermath of the disputed 2007 poll. The case still pending before the court could as well be on its way to closure. To his supporters, Ruto is but suffering for the sins of Raila, to his critics’ imprints of violence are dotted all over his political career, starting with allegations that YK 92 which he served as the organizing secretary was responsible for violence in southern and central Rift in 1992.
You will also remember a legal battle, where a Mr. Adrian Muteshi, a Post-election Violence victim who accused Ruto of grabbing his 100 acre land. Ruto at some point sought an out of Court settlement which flopped. He was then ordered by a court to pay Mr. Muteshi KES 5 Million shillings, an order he appealed last year.
As the Deputy President, William Ruto has been cast as the face of graft in the Jubilee regime; in 2013, the hustler’s jet where obtained documents showed that 25 million shillings had been paid out to Vista jet, the company that had provided luxury jet services to the Deputy President and his entourage in a four-country tour. The government however denied spending such an amount of money and claimed that the media station was distorting facts. The owner of the company that provided the government with the services told the Public accounts committee that they were paid 18.5 million shillings and that the contract was between the government and EADC and that Vistajet did not invoice the government.
Earlier this year, Ruto became a “Singh” during the ‘Lang’ata Primary School Land Saga’. The School management claimed that the school’s playground had been grabbed by the nearby Weston hotel or purposes of putting up a car parking. The hotel was rumored to be owned by the Deputy President but his supporters came out to deny this allegation and official documents produced showed that the hotel was owed by a Mister Patrick Osero,a close friend of the DP.
However,in an interview with Citizen TV, Ruto admitted to owning shares at Weston Hotel but insists that the land which was grabbed and the one that Weston sits on are different. “Weston Hotel is completely different from Langata Road Primary School, we were not allocated the land, nor did we buy it from KCAA (Kenya Civil Aviation Authority). We bought the land from people who had been allocated the land, and the documentation is there,” he explained.
In the most recent saga, a Herbert Ojwang’ came out to allege that the Deputy President had inflated the cost of refurbishing the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital from KES 17 Billion to KES 28 Billion. Ruto effectively dismissed the Saga, terming Herbert a Con and an agent of Raila.
The allegations abound, and the response remains constant: My Political detractors are out to malign my reputation and see my political downfall.
And to this end, this has been satisfactory. So who is Arap Ruto? The strict teetotaler, milk drinking, eloquent and religious man, or a cunning corrupt politician with a mastery of shifting blame.
Article by the By Politickes Team