Church leaders accuse Ruto of reneging on poll pledges
Disquiet has gripped a section of the Christian community in Kenya who say they were duped by President William Ruto to support him in the 2022 election with promises of plum jobs in government.
The presidency has been keen to not only project itself as “an act of God” but also used pulpits to claim that Ruto and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua “prayed themselves into power.”
Huge sections of the church, especially evangelicals, have staked claim to the Ruto State House and have been a major beneficiary of his money in reciprocation.
Besides appointments, which now seem increasing elusive, the church leaders where promised amenable operational regulations.
A group of religious leaders, then operating under the Pentecostal and Evangelical Alliance Churches of Kenya’ (PEACK) umbrella who spearheaded the campaign to usher Ruto to State House are now questioning why he has failed to honour part of the bargain that included the promise to appoint some of them to commissions, State corporations, foreign missions, Cabinet and boards and committees of national and county governments.
An MoU in People’s Daily possession reveals that Ruto promised to nominate a section of the clergy to the National Assembly, Senate and County Assemblies as well as recognise the clergy as key stakeholders and essential service providers.
Not only has the President turned a blind eye to the MoU signed on March 16, 2022 at the Deputy President’s official residence in Karen, but he no longer picks their phone calls.
“It all appears that we were only useful to the President during the campaigns but we ceased to exist both in his mind and vocabulary the moment he landed himself the job,” a bishop who was actively involved in the President’s campaigns told People Daily yesterday.
But Government Spokesman Isaac Mwaura said the President acknowledges the support accorded to him by the church and that he was committed to fulfilling the pledges he made to them.
“The government is committed to fulfilling all its pledges that it made to the electorate and we truly appreciate what the clergy did to support our win. We assure them that we are working hard to fulfil all the issues that we agreed to attain within these five years. President Ruto is a man of his words,” Mwaura told People Daily.
Among the notable members of PEACK were Evangelical Alliance of Kenya (EAK) chairman Bishop David Oginde and Secretary General Nelson Makanda, Bishops Mark Kariuki (Deliverance Church of Kenya), Daniel Kabono (Association of Pentecostal and Evangelical Churches), Teresia
Wairimu (Faith Evangelistic Team) and Arthur Kitonga (Redeemed Gospel Church).
Oginde is the chairman of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission while Makanda is the chair of the IEBC selection panel.
In the MoU, the then DP appended his signature that he would guarantee the independence of the church by lifting the moratorium on registration of religious organizations including churches and ministries.
He also undertook to support self-regulation of churches and formation of Cabinet docket for Ministry of National Guidance and Religious Affairs, facilitation of formation of chaplaincy, mediation and arbitration commission.
“Whereas Party “A” is a presidential candidate in the 2022 General election and upon winning the
election as the President of the Republic of Kenya agrees to facilitating the establishment of “Registrar of Religious Organizations” delinking from the Registrar of Societies,” reads part of the MoU.
According to the document exclusively obtained by People Daily, Ruto promised the men and women of the cloth that he would facilitate the establishment of a Christian Legal office to support the drafting of bills for consideration by Parliament and allocate budgetary funds for mediation by accredited church mediators and centres.
Ruto further pledged to facilitate the abolition of levies and fees charged as marriage fees by Registrar of Societies, noise levies by the National Environmental Management Authority (Nema), church meeting on public grounds and distribution of church materials for information sharing by County governments.
For all those goodies, PEACK had agreed and signed to among other things, County fora and prayer caravans that endorse his candidature, national clergy and top church leaders endorsement of Ruto in a delegates conference and giving direction of members to vote for Party “A”.
They were also to raise their voices against attempts to rig or influence the outcome of the elections.
“Whereas Party “B” is a significant voting block accounting for more than half of the total Kenyan population comprising in 97,000 congregation to mobilise voters to vote participate actively in civic education, campaign for Party “A” as a member of this faith and association and counter political
propaganda against Party “A”,” reads part of the agreement.
In addition, PEACK agreed to advocate and guard the credibility of 2022 General Election by raising the voice against attempts to rig or influence the outcome of elections, partner with Party “A” in the process of vote counting and tallying as agents and observers and to set up national days of prayers.
In the run up to the 2022 polls, Ruto regularly attended church fundraisers where he made huge donations, endearing himself to the church.
In the cold
Political analyst Mark Bichachi argues that Ruto has alienated his traditional base he had before the August 2022 polls and instead used external faith diplomacy being championed by First Lady Rachel Ruto.
“He has not gone to Central Kenya and gone to churches the way he used to do. He is using faith diplomacy which looks external. Church leaders are still in good standing with the President but their followers are not. They feel that the church misled them,” said Bichachi.
He added: “Preachers now feel the need to distance themselves from the challenges facing their congregants and at the same time seem like holding the government to task.”
The presiding bishop of Stewards Revival Pentecostal Church Samuel Ngacha Njiriri, who doubles up as the chairman of Federation of Evangelical and Indigenous Christian Churches of Kenya, who was part of the PEACK team, says though he does not know the contents of the MoU, there was an agreement between the two parties.
“Though I have not seen the agreement, I am aware that there was an agreement that we signed in Karen,” Bishop Njiriri told People Daily without divulging much.
Bishop Njiriri lamented that some of the clerics who stood with Ruto during his fallout with his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta have been left in the cold.
According to Njiriri, Ruto has refused to listen to the church, refused to reduce the cost of living and has instead been supporting the regulation of churches.
“We were at the forefront in campaigning for him to be President. Now that he got what he wanted, he has refused to listen to the church and especially those who stuck their necks out for him,” said Njiriri.