‘I am not a tourist’ – Ruto reacts to criticism on his foreign trips
President William Ruto has downplayed criticism on his numerous trips abroad, saying he travels with a plan.
Speaking during a Sunday church service in Kimende, Kiambu County, President Ruto said he is not a tourist, but a man on a mission to transform the country with partnerships with other world leaders.
"You have heard that I have toured many parts of the world and I have travelled with a plan, I am not a tourist. Because for this country to change it has to be changed and that is done by thoughts and plans," Ruto remarked.
President Ruto insisted that Kenya stands to benefit immensely from his foreign visits, especially through job creation.
"As we speak our CS for Labour (Florence Bore) is in Saudi Arabia because we want to plan how our youth will get jobs everywhere," he added.
The Head of State defended the government's bid to send more Kenyans to work abroad, saying the initiative would help reduce the unemployment rate in the country.
This follows criticism from Azimio la Umoja - One Kenya coalition leader Raila Odinga, who recently accused the government of failure to create job opportunities locally for its citizens.
"Kwani alikuwa anataka wabaki hapa kenya wakifanya nini? Na bado. Amelalamika mapema. Watu watatoka Kenya hii waende wafanye kazi nche kwa maelfu," Ruto stated.
Loosely translated: "What did he (Raila) want them to do here? He has seen nothing yet. People will leave this country in their thousands to go and work abroad."
Ruto affirmed that his government had signed bilateral agreements with several countries to secure job opportunities for Kenyans overseas. The countries include Israel, Saudi Arabia, Germany, and France.
He also noted that the government was keen to create more jobs locally through the affordable housing programme and Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) hubs, which will be built in every ward countrywide.
"There are some who will stay here in Rukuma and get jobs through the housing project, others will work in the ICT hub and others will board planes the go work outside the nation. Didn't we agree that kazi ni kazi?" Ruto posed.
According to the president, the opportunities will not only help thousands of Kenyans sustain their livelihood but also stabilise the economy.
"We want to ensure that our young people get a source of income. In fact, those leaving the country will send us dollars which will in turn ensure that the exchange rate stops giving us problems."
Raila had on Friday, December 8, faulted the Kenya Kwanza government over plans to send more Kenyans abroad amid the high unemployment rate in the country.
Raila, while chiding the president, said it's the responsibility of the government to create job opportunities for its citizens.
“Our children are struggling to get farm jobs in Israel, to be house helps in Saudi Arabia and security personnel in Qatar. Government officers themselves, including a whole president, openly say that they are trying to get jobs abroad for Kenyans,” Raila stated at the Catholic University while delivering a lecture dubbed ‘A Vision for the Next 60 Years and Beyond’.
“Young people with the new skills and knowledge that we need are being exported because the government cannot create jobs. And the government sees it as an achievement.”