Ruto, opposition leader trade barbs over corruption claims

Monday, July 5th, 2021 00:00 | By
Rev Felix Muriithi welcomes Deputy President William Ruto for Sunday service at Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) in Umoja, Embakasi West, yesterday. Photo/PD/JOHN OCHIENG

Deputy President William Ruto has hit out at opposition leader Raila Odinga’s over his declaration that he will jail corrupt people if he is elected president in next year’s General Election.

Without mentioning any names, Raila charged that some individuals who were busy donating millions of shillings to churches belong to Shimo la Tewa Prison.

“They are hyenas,” said Raila in Mombasa on Saturday. “You see them come here in sheep’s clothing and claim they will fundraise for women and youth groups. That is stolen money. 

The people busy going round the country in choppers dishing out money should be in Shimo la Tewa,” said Raila who for the first time gave the clearest indication that he plans to make a fifth stab at the presidency in the 2022 General Election.  

 “Where does he get the millions from? No one questions where this money is from. 

When we get into government, our first duty, will be to jail all these people,” he told a gathering during the launch of a health programme in Mvita constituency, Mombasa county.

Their mutual disdain for each other heightened yesterday when Ruto appeared to revive the 2011 Kazi Kwa Vijana scandal which happened when Raila was Prime Minister.

Political responsibility

The Deputy President alleged that “some individuals stole from young people while they were in government” and, therefore, had no moral authority to lecture the country on corruption. Ruto said the same people run cartels in government but pretend to give lectures on how to fight corruption.

“Hawa watu ndugu zetu ni watu wa ajabu sana kwa sababu wakiwa kwa serikali walikuwa wanaibia vijana. Sasa wako kwa serikali wanaibia wagonjwa na Covid billionaires,” he said.

“These people are funny characters. When they were in government, they stole from the youth.

Now they are back in government and are using cartels to steal from patients like in the case of Covid billionaires.”

Though Raila has not declared that he will run for the presidency, Ruto perceives him as his main opponent in the 2022 presidential contest.   

The escalation between the two is probably an indication of the issues that are likely to feature in next year’s election if the two are fronted by their parties to wage battle for State House.  

Yesterday, Ruto asked Raila to apologise to Kenyans for disrupting the Big Four Agenda after President Uhuru Kenyatta invited them into government under the March 2018 Handshake deal.

Speaking during a church service at the Presbyterian Church of East Africa in Umoja, Nairobi, the DP said the Big Four Agenda would have created jobs for many young people in the country. 

“The President out of abundance of heart welcomed you to government and you came and disrupted the Big 4 Agenda; it would have given jobs to plumbers, masons but you instead re-directed us to the push for constitutional change,” said Ruto in clear reference to the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) that is currently the subject of high-profile litigation at the Court of Appeal.

“You need to apologise to us and you need to be ashamed of yourselves,” Ruto said. 

While serving as premier in the Grand Coalition Government, Raila in 2011 refused to take political responsibility for the Kazi Kwa Vijana scandal saying no money had been lost.

Accusing those calling for his resignation of “trying to create a scandal where there is none”, Raila said reports by the World Bank had indicated that “not a single penny had been lost” in the project.

In a statement to Parliament, Raila tabled several documents including a final report of the World Bank audit to prove there was no fraud or corruption in the project’s implementation.

Kazi Kwa Vijana was a youth empowerment project that was sponsored by the World Bank and other donors to address vulnerability of young people by offering unemployed youth opportunities to earn a living.

On Saturday, Raila did not substantiate his corruption claims, nor did he mention anyone by name, but President Kenyatta is on record saying that some people were steal ing up to Sh2 billion a day from the government.

Yesterday, Ruto sustained his criticism of the Handshake between the President and Raila, saying it had allowed the Opposition to join government “through the backdoor”. 

According to Ruto, Raila should take responsibility for the Jubilee government failures.

Raila at the weekend gave stinging criticism of the Standard Gauge Railway, one of the Jubilee administration’s legacy projects, saying it was “no value for money”.  

Criticism of the Handshake

Ruto said yesterday: “The irony of this thing is that it is only in Kenya where the opposition pretends to run the government.”

Incidentally, the DP was attending fundraiser for the construction of a church for the youth. 

He argued that he had supported many individuals and those complaining about his visits to fundraise for churches and low-income Kenyans never said a thing when they were in the same political formations.

“I challenge them to come out clear and say the truth. Why are they opposed to the idea of poor people being assisted?” the Deputy President asked.

Ruto maintained that he was in no way ashamed of making donations in church and helping the lowly in society. 

 “Kenyans should not be worried about people who are threatening them.  I hear they are saying they will push them (elections) forward.

That is hogwash. We will conduct elections on the second Tuesday of August next year and the people will decide.

We are keen to form a government that will be mindful of the poor.” Ruto highlighted developments the Jubilee government had made in the area to improve the lives of residents in Narobi’s Eastlands.

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