Ruto lays out agenda after endorsement
Deputy President (DP) William Ruto yesterday promised to overhaul the government so as to make it work for the common man as he was endorsed the presidential candidate for the United Democratic Alliance (UDA).
His major targets will include the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), the anti-corruption commission and the tax collector, which he accused of being used by the State to fight perceived opponents.
Revelling in the new status, the DP took time to lay down what he plans for the country if he gets elected as the Head of State in August, taking most of the time to disengage himself and his new outfit from the ills of the outgoing Jubilee administration.
In a speech he delivered at Kasarani indoor arena that was rich in reference to the struggles faced by the ordinary citizen, who he has promised to focus on if he is elected the country’s fifth president, the DP did not shy away from throwing punches at the outgoing administration, which, ironically, he is part of.
According to the DP, who appeared keen to frame the August 9 presidential election as a contest between the rich and the poor, the Jubilee government had abandoned the Big Four agenda to pursue amendments to the Constitution under the aborted Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
Although the DP expressed respect for President Uhuru Kenyatta who he has served for the past nine years for affording him the opportunity, he nonetheless blamed the Head of State for government failures in the last four years, directing his anger especially at the Handshake between the President and Azimio presidential candidate Raila Odinga.
“What is on the ballot is a competition of ideas, a competition of sides. One side is after changing the Constitution for positions and the other is to change the economic lives of Kenyans…We are at an historic moment, we have to make our choices carefully on August 9 because what is on the ballot is either Kenya moving forward to prosperity or regressing into tyranny and poverty,” Ruto said.
The DP rallied his party’s National Delegates Conference (NDC) to back his presidential campaign, saying it was anchored on helping the downtrodden. Apart from the NDC, the party also held two key meetings, the National Governing Council and the National Executive Committee (NEC).
The two meetings were aimed at unveiling the interim party officials as well as drafting and approving the party’s agenda according to its constitution.
The event that brought together more than 5,000 delegates marked the formal end to Ruto’s tenure as the Jubilee Party deputy leader.
The Kasarani arena was painted yellow; the UDA colours, with delegates being entertained by mainly gospel songs and chants against President Kenyatta.
Ruto used the occasion to parade his troops, particularly dozens of youthful MPs supporting him across the country.
After accepting the endorsement, the DP took an oath to represent the interests of the party which was administered by lawyer James Mureu. In his acceptance speech, Ruto told the cheering delegates to have faith in him and promised to deliver victory with their support.
“I don’t take the honour you have bestowed on me for granted. I promise that I will give it my all and deliver you and Kenyans in general to the desired expectations,” Ruto told the meeting.
The DP claimed that the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, DCI and the Kenya Revenue Authority had been held captive by those in power, claiming they were being misused to perform political assignments.
“The EACC, DCI, KRA have been weaponised to run political errands. We will professionalise these offices to discharge their constitutional and legal duty,” the DP said.
He claimed Keroche Industries, the liquor manufacturing company that is currently embroiled in a taxation battle with KRA, was being persecuted for not kowtowing to the Jubilee regime.
“We will not bow to you, we will not worship you, we worship the living God in Heaven,” a defiant DP said.
The DP said the country’s economy was on the ballot, focusing on the agriculture sector which, he said, was struggling under the weight of monopolistic policies pursued by those in government. While praising the bottom-up economic model that is the hallmark of his party, his first duty in office will be to free the economy from punitive policies.
“Agriculture will be on the ballot in this election. Our competitors are the masters of monopolies, they are the agents of the conflict of interest, they are the agents of state capture.
We must free this country and our agriculture from cartels, brokers,” said Ruto, who promised to make sure farmers will get subsidised fertiliser which is currently selling at Sh6,000 per 5kg bag.
Recently, the President accused Ruto and those he said the DP had picked to be Cabinet Secretaries for Agriculture of running down the sector with questionable engagements.
One of the recent occupants was Mwangi Kiunjuri; The Service Party leader, who was present at Kasarani. He was sacked in January 2020 for allegedly overseeing a lacklustre ministry that had failed to solve farmers’ problems.
With the county staring at a huge public debt nearing Sh9 trillion, the DP said he would go slow on borrowing, promising instead to raise funds from local resources.
He will seek to pick lessons from former President Kibaki who has been praised for cutting the country’s foreign debt to manageable levels in the 10 years he was in office. “We must not be slaves of debt from any nation… debt must be the last resort,” Ruto said.
He said they will look into “Sh7 trillion borrowed” after the Handshake in March 2018. “It is a tragedy that must be investigated,” he said.
Ruto also took time to ponder on the tribulations he said he and his lieutenants had been subjected to since 2018, saying it had been a rough time for all of them. However, he added he would not subject his deputy to what he had gone through if he was to take over.
His allies were kicked out of leadership posts in both Houses of Parliament after he fell out with the President with most of those affected lining up to praise him yesterday at Kasarani.
They included former Majority Leaders Kithure Kindiki (Senate) and Aden Duale (National Assembly), and Senator Susan Kihika (former Majority Whip), who were kicked out for being his allies and replaced with those perceived to be Uhuru’s supporters.
Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua and Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru are among Ruto allies who are battling corruption cases in court which, they claim, are politically instigated.
Gachagua yesterday said they had been coerced to leave the DP but they were not going to listen to anyone but the voters.
Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi, who is in the Kenya Kwanza Alliance with the DP alongside Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula, said they will work with Ruto to the end.
“Ruto has spoken too well, he has spoken to our hearts, spoken to all Kenyans and all men and women of goodwill… we do not want a regime of puppets, we don’t want puppet leaders who are remote controlled,” he said.
Former Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto, the Chama Cha Mashinani leader, who declared his support for the DP’s presidential bid, said he go side-by-side with his namesake until elections.
“I have heard one of the best speeches in the recent past. We have to make a departure from making a budget in the interest of 20 per cent Kenyans and forget the majority of citizens,” the former governor said.