Kalenjin billionaires have sent overtures to William Ruto to mend fences with them two years after they abandoned the second in command fearing his 2022 presidential ambition is doomed.
The tycoons abandoned the deputy president after the deep state intensified a crackdown on those pledging alliance to him, which saw dozens of Kalenjin elite heading lucrative parastatals edged out, with the unlucky ones facing criminal charges in courts.
The billionaires join the list of Kalenjin elite secretly trooping back to the DP’s camp after realizing the ground is hostile to any leader opposed to the former Eldoret North MP and more so his determination to go for the top seat is unstoppable.
The billionaires’ change of tact was evident when Chama Cha Mashinani secretary-general Bundotich Kiprop alias Buzeki publicly threatened to ditch the outfit after party leader Isaac Rutto declared support for Baringo senator Gideon Moi’s 2022 presidential bid.Fearing,Isaac has joined the DP side.
In a press statement, Buzeki was categorical that he would quit the party if Rutto continued making unilateral decisions and statements on key matters without consulting party organs such as endorsing Gideon for presidency in 2022.
Although the tycoon stated he remained the party scretary general, it was not lost to political pundits that he was looking for an excuse to decamp to the DP’s camp fearing without the support of the second in command he will not win the Uasin Gishu gubernatorial seat in 2022 polls.
The tycoon was irked by a statement Rutto made in Bomet during the launch of Building Bridges Initiative signature collection to endorse Gideon.
The statement took the party’s supporters by surprise because no decision had been made on whom to back for the presidency in 2022.
Buzeki joined CCM after quitting the Jubilee party in May 2019 after a row with the deputy president and his allies.
While decamping from Jubilee, he accused the DP and his allies of misusing their positions in the party to frustrate him politically.
The tycoon had sought the Jubilee ticket to vie for the governorship in Uasin Gishu but lost to Jackson Mandago during fierce party nominations.
He later vied as an independent candidate and came second to Mandago.
He had indicated he would vie again in 2022 through CCM and also ensure that the Rutto-led party fields candidates in all areas in Rift Valley.
The Kalenjin tycoons secretly trooping back to Ruto include Joshua Chepkwony of Jamii Telecom and Joshua Kulei of Sovereign Group.
Informed sources reveal, Nandi MP Alfred Keter and others opposed to Ruto presidential bid led by Uasin Gishu senator Magaret Kamar are also weighing options as the ground is hot. Kesses MP Kiprop Misra who has openly declared war on DP together with Ainamoi MP William Chepkut future hangs on balance going by the talk on ground.
There were even reports tycoon David Langat was to take over the leadership of CCM and join the presidential race in 2022 but have since gone silent. Talk is rife Langat has mended fences with Ruto. In the scheme, Langat was to start by rebranding CCM and ultimately becoming its presidential candidate in 2022.
At one time, the tycoons were then working with disgruntled politicians and businessmen in Rift Valley who felt shortchanged in Jubilee tender awards that favoured Mount Kenya businessmen. Talk is rife that Kikuyu tycoons are against Ruto presidency as they will lose lucrative tenders hence need to block him from succeeding president Uhuru Kenyatta.
After falling out with DP Ruto, Buzeki and Zakayo Cheruiyot cited business rivalry accusing him of deliberately denying them tenders.
They further argued that DP Ruto snatched the tenders from them and used his office to favour the Chinese firms instead.
Some of the projects in question are alleged to be the standard gauge railway, which was eventually awarded to China Road and Bridge Corporation, laptops project and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport’s Greenfield terminal, which was cancelled, among others.
The team reportedly tried to engage Baringo senator Gideon Moi to checkmate the DP but have found Gideon cannot be sold in Kalenjinland hence current tactical retreat.
The tycoons also used their financial muscle to lure most Kalenjin MPs to abandon Ruto for the handshake – in reference to March 9 2018 deal between Uhuru and Raila.
The end result was that, even in his home turf of Uasin Gishu County, the deputy president found himself enjoying the support of only two MPs – Soy MP Caleb Kositany and his Kapsaret counterpart Oscar Sudi – with the rest either disowning his camp or deciding to take a back seat.
But now, the Uasin Gishu county leaders, who were hesitant to associate themselves with Tanga Tanga, are making a comeback to the deputy president’s camp.
Apart from county woman representative Gladys Shollei, who has publicly pledged support for Ruto, other MPs said to be warming up to the DP’s camp include William Chepkut (Ainabkoi) ansd Janet Sitienei (Turbo) and Swarup Mishra (Kesses).
But it is the reported backing of Ruto by Kulei that will upset the scales.
For one, Kulei, who for more than two decades when Kenya was under the control of a chosen few from the Rift Valley, was the former president Moi private secretary, is fabulously wealthy, with vast business empire spanning nearly all sectors of the economy. His wars with Gideon has forced him join Ruto camp.
The businessman has interests in Namibia, Australia, the United Kingdom and Luxembourg.
According to sources, also said to be warming up his way to the deputy president is former State House Comptroller Franklin Bett, ex-head of the civil service Sally Kosgey and former cabinet minister Henry Kosgey.
For Kosgey, he had warmed up to Ruto ahead of the 2017 elections after abandoning ODM but was shocked after then Nandi senator Stephen Sang trounced him together with then Governor Cleophas Lagat and former Agriculture cabinet secretary Felix Koskei to clinch the Jubilee gubernatorial ticket for the county.
Tycoon Langat is the key link between Ruto and those trooping back to DP camp. .
In the 2013 elections, Kosgey had gone against the grain in Nandi by running on an ODM ticket against a strong wind of the now defunct URP but lost to Sang in the senatorial race.
Since losing the Nandi gubernatorial race, he has been pursuing career in theology but is now said to be planning to rejoin Ruto as he grooms one of his sons to go for Nandi governorship with the DP’s blessings. His son Alex Kosgey the Emgwen MP was elected on Jubilee ticket and rarely attacks the DP.
The tycoons’ change of heart comes at a time Gideon is battling to control the region politics.
Gideon’s stake was raised when the family, at the behest of his late father, settled on him as the political head with his brother, Rongai MP Raymond Moi, leading then in anointing him.
But the man, who on two occasions blocked Ruto from visiting his ailing father at his Kabarak home even as he welcomed the DP’s political rivals such as ODM leader Raila Odinga will have to contend with the DP’s growing influence at a time he is facing rebellion from former business associates and political allies who describe him as a miser.
This is in contrast to the deputy president whom many say took great lessons from the late Moi of being generous and close to the people.
Ruto, who has been looking for an opportunity to cut Gideon to size, will now have more ammunition once the Kalenjin billionaires join his camp. Ruto camp recently blocked Gideon from being anointed Kalenjin elder by Talai community.
The DP camp plan is to isolate Gideon with word, Cherangany MP Joshua Kuttuny is already worried after former minister Kipruto arap Kirwa defected to the DP side and is being groomed to take Kuttuny head on.
Kuttuny was one of Ruto’s key men but like other Kalenjin rebels has gone slow just out to befriend the DP to be reelected back fearing defeat.
Ruto strategists want to lock out other aspirants from the larger Rift Valley and have brought on board Josephat Nanok the Turkana governor. They want to revive Kamatusa vote block that brought together Kalenjin, Maasai, Turkana, Samburu. Already Narok governor Samuel Tunai is a key player in the revival of Kamatusa. Kamatusa played a key role in Moi election during multiparty era.