Deputy President William Ruto felt he had been isolated throughout the six months the State battled COVID-19 pandemic in the country, and, therefore, it was “dishonest of people around the President” to rope him in towards the tail end of the fight, his aides say, explaining why the second-in-command skipped Monday’s COVID-19 conference presided over by his boss.
The DP’s seat, which had been reserved at the scene of event —
Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) in Nairobi — was quickly
removed from the venue after it became clear that he wasn’t going to attend the
The DP was supposed to arrive at the KICC before President
Kenyatta so that he (Ruto) could receive the Head of State. At 2pm President
Kenyatta’s convoy made its way to the venue. At the time, Ruto hadn’t arrived
yet, triggering an unquestionable indication that the President’s principal
assistant wasn’t going to be in attendance.
understands that the DP spent his entire Monday at his Karen Residence office,
and was absent from the President Kenyatta-led event despite receiving an
official invitation to the COVID-19 Conference.
State House Spokesperson, Kanze Dena-Mararo, on Monday,
September 29 confirmed that Ruto had been invited to the event.
“He (Ruto) was invited to the National COVID-19 Conference, but
did not attend. I do not why he skipped the event. His communications team is
in a better position to answer that,” Kanze said Monday.
The Director of Communication at the Deputy President’s Office,
Emmanuel Talam, confirmed to K24 Digital
Tuesday, September 29 that Ruto “indeed received the invitation”.
“I am not disputing Kanze’s claim that the Deputy President was
invited to the COVID-19 Conference,” said Talam.
Asked to explain why Ruto gave the event a wide berth despite
being requested to attend, Talam said: “How many addresses has the President
made before yesterday’s? They are eleven if I am not wrong, right? Ask [State
House Spokesperson] Kanze Dena why they only chose to invite the Deputy
President for the 12th address, and not the other 11.”
“If she (Kanze Dena) answers that convincingly and honestly,
then I would give a straightforward response on why the DP skipped the event,”
added Ruto’s communications representative.
K24 Digital’s phone calls
to Kanze Dena to seek a clarification on whether the DP hadn’t been invited to the
President’s 11 previous COVID-19 addresses, went unanswered.
Then, where was the DP on Monday, September 28? “Yesterday
(Monday, September 28), he spent the whole day at his Karen Residence office. I
am not sure if he followed the COVID-19 Conference on television,” responded
K24 Digital understands
that every Monday, Ruto gives his communications team members, comprising
videographers and writers, rest days after accompanying him on tours during the
“Yesterday, the boss told us we stay off duty as is the case
every other Monday,” a member of the DP’s communications team, who spoke in
confidence, told K24 Digital.
“Had he planned to attend the COVID Conference, which was held
on a Monday — our off day — he would have told us in advance to prepare to
cover the event, but he did not. He, instead, asked us to honour our rest day,”
added the informant.
Ruto was scheduled to speak at the event at 5:50pm after former
Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s address.
The DP’s planned 10-minute speech was to lead to the Head of
State’s address, which was scheduled to take 30 minutes between 6pm and 6:30pm.
Shortly after Ruto’s seat was taken off the venue, his allies
took to Twitter to state there was no way the DP was going to attend a ceremony,
“which he has never been a part of”.
Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot, a staunch DP Ruto rooter, said
on Twitter at 4:26pm: “Let’s stop the hypocrisy. If William Samoei Ruto’s
contribution counted, how comes he has never been invited to any Government of
Kenya’s COVID-19 response meeting? Now you want him to join the COVID-19
millionaires in sharing their looting success! No to sanitizing the KEMSA
Soy MP Caleb Kositany wondered why Ruto was included in the
programme for the President’s 12th address on COVID-19, yet in the 11 preceding
addresses, he wasn’t invited to the functions.
“The Deputy President has never been invited for any COVID-19
conference, why this one?” Kositany posed on Twitter on Monday 5:19pm.
A day after Ruto skipped the President’s function, he hosted
low-income and informal sector workers at his Karen Residence, where he donated
water tanks, wheelbarrows, handcarts and money to the group, which he referred
to as “my fellow hustlers”.
His communications rep, Talam, says the DP will continue to
convene meetings with the “ordinary Kenyans, who are close to his heart”.