Jeers, cheers as Kenyans rate DP talk performance
Deputy President William Ruto’s performance at the presidential debate on Tuesday night split Kenyans along political lines.
While his supporters said he performed well, opponents said he returned a poor score claiming he got his match in the moderators.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding the event at Catholic University of East Africa (CUEA), Ruto presented himself for scrutiny for one-and-half hours despite the absence of his main opponent, Azimio-One Kenya candidate Raila Odinga, shadowing the debate.
He, however, had to contend with tough questions posed by moderators Eric Latiff and Yvonne Okwara who did not relent in the pursuit of his responses. He was questioned on the state of the economy, high cost of living, corruption, stalled government projects and his wealth. He also faced questions on his role in some of the failed promises by the Jubilee administration having served in the same government since 2013.
“There are things you cannot do as Deputy President; as President the buck will stop with me,” he said defending his tenure as DP.
While promoting his candidature he said it was meant to uplift the downtrodden saying he had a plan to create opportunities for the millions of jobless youths.
“This is a mama mboga moment. I believe I’m the candidate with a plan to take Kenya to the next level,” said the DP in his opening statement.
He arrived at the venue 30 minutes before the commencement of the debate. He was accompanied by his wife Rachel and his running mate Rigathi Gachagua. Tagging along were Kenya Kwanza principals Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetangula. Others were Governors Alfred Mutua, Josphat Nanok and National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi.
Pauline Waithera, a grocer from Kiambu and Calvince Okoth, a boda boda operator from Dagoretti North were also by his side. The two accompanied the DP last month to Bomas of Kenya where he was cleared to run for the presidency by the IEBC.
“It is an important opportunity for us to speak to Kenyans so that when they wake up to vote on August 9 knowing who and why they are voting for. I have got an opportunity to speak to Kenyans on our manifesto, what plans we have to deal with food shortage, unemployment,” he said upon arriving at the venue. After the debate, he said he had done his best and expected Kenyans to choose him to be the country’s fifth leader.
His wife, Rachel praised him saying he delivered as expected.
“Congratulations Bill. You were perfect. The last man standing. May God carry you through,” Rachel said.
Raila’s spokesperson Makau Mutua was, however, of a different opinion saying the DP was incoherent and failed to respond to questions as expected.
Gachagua, who had his moment last Tuesday when he faced Raila’s running mate Martha Karua, thanked the DP for appearing for the debate claiming he had taken time to show what they had in store for Kenyans.
“Congratulations my boss, our Kenya Kwanza captain for not abandoning Kenyans when they needed to hear from you. The articulation of our plan and your passion is admirable. Kenyans are confident that a real leader will shepherd our country into a positive trajectory,” he said.
Yesterday, the DP was still on Raila’s case telling his supporters in Kirinyaga his rival had failed to face him because he did not value their votes.
“He did not want to come and speak to Kenyans because he thinks he will be voted for by the Deep State but he will face us at the ballot,” he said in Kianyaga. Raila had said he could not share the same platform with someone he accused of perpetrating graft, a charge Ruto denied during the debate.
Before the debate, power blackouts were reported in Ruto’s strongholds in the Rift Valley leading to online protests as most of the residents could not follow it on their TV sets. The outage also affected Western, South Nyanza and Nairobi North regions.
Power only returned towards the end of the debate.
“At 812pm, we experienced a system disturbance at the Kisumu-Muhoroni high voltage transmission power line that tripped several power circuits and affected power generation from Muhoroni Gas Turbine Station and Turkwel Hydropower Station,” said the power firm in a statement.
Kenya Kwanza principal Moses Wetangula termed the outage an attempt to deny Ruto’s followers opportunity to listen to their candidate. “Many Kenyans from across the country are complaining of a power blackout. This is a deliberate act of sabotage to deny Kenyans an opportunity to follow the presidential debate that is ongoing. Freedom is coming,” he said.
The moderators were also applauded for their professionalism and for sticking to the rule book.
“Yvonne Okwara-Matole and Eric Latiff have just redefined the quality and level of a presidential debate. Serious and philosophical in probity, rich in content and above triviality. I applaud them,” said Prof James Kiyiapi who faced a similar debate in 2013 when he unsuccessfully vied for President.