Rigathi Gachagua

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua greets Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria among other leaders on arrival at Kinunga Stadium in Nyeri County to attend the burial of Mau Mau freedom figher Field Marshal Muthoni Kirima on September 22, 2023. 

| Joseph Kanyi I Nation Media Group

‘Kenya Co. Ltd’ boardroom on fire

It was Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua who, infamously, equated the government to a private corporation in which dividends are the preserve of shareholders. The interpretation was that, in President William Ruto’s administration, public sector appointments or distribution of development projects would be concentrated in the regions that voted for the Kenya Kwanza Alliance.

It is likely that, in Mr Gachagua’s mind, the main shareholders were his own Mt Kenya regional bloc and President Ruto’s northern Rift Valley power base. That would reduce western Kenya—represented by Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi and National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula—as well as other regions that split their vote between Kenya Kwanza and opposition leader Raila Odinga’s Azimio la Umoja coalition to second-tier dividends. The regions that voted largely for Azimio would, of course, not enjoy even the crumbs. Despite the ensuing furore, Mr Gachagua remained unapologetic, reiterating his analogy last weekend.

However, even corporations have their internal power struggles and other such dynamics. Now it looks like Kenya Kwanza is in the throes of shareholder wars.

Major grouse

On the surface, it appears like ordinary turf battles but the feud pitting Cabinet Secretary for Water, Sanitation and Irrigation Alice Wahome against the Principal Secretary Kipronoh Ronoh has all the makings of a shareholder feud. So is the pressure being piled on Mr Mudavadi and Mr Wetang’ula to fold their respective political parties—Amani National Congress and Ford-Kenya—and join the Ruto-Gachagua United Democratic Alliance (UDA).

It started with Ms Wahome moving to defend the erstwhile boss of the Athi Water Works Development Agency, Micheal Thuita, whom Mr Ronoh wanted suspended for alleged corruption. A major grouse was that Thuita was under pressure for questioning diversion of funds earmarked for water projects.

The flurry of letters between Ms Wahome and Mr Ronoh was picking up steam at the end of last week when President Ruto’s office, through Head of Public Service Felix Koskei, intervened in a fashion that was a major defeat for the CS.

Mr Koskei ordered that Mr Thuita step aside pending conclusion of the corruption probe, suggesting that those supporting him were impeding the war against graft. Mr Thuita chose to resign, but that will not be the end of the matter.

There were some common denominators in the whole affair. Ms Wahome and Mr Thuita are from DP Gachagua’s Mt Kenya region. Mr Koskei and Mr Ronoh are from President Ruto’s northern Rift Valley grouping. The water projects that were supposedly stripped off funding were mostly in Mt Kenya while projects in the Rift Valley were spared.

Ms Wahome will not be one to surrender without putting up a fight.

* * *

It would be fair to surmise that Kenya is in urgent need of prayers. A government unable to prevent a precipitous slide of the currency or the threat of default on public debt, amid calamitous interventions that seem to create more problems than they solve, needs all the help it can get.

If policies meant to rescue the economy from free-fall are failing so spectacularly, and everybody in government responsible for staving off collapse seems clueless, then the only option might be recourse to divine intervention.

However, if it is true that American televangelist Benny Hinn has been invited to headline a series of prayer crusades in Kenya and to be paid for by the government, then this country is in even more urgent need of prayers. It would be the height of criminal misuse and wastage of public funds for a single cent to be used for that purpose.

First Lady Rachel Ruto has every right to pray as much as she wishes and to patronise and promote the preachers of her choice. But that does not mean the suffering public bears the burden of funds being diverted to her pet causes outside all known budgetary and public expenditure processes.

Spending regulations

The public money allocated to the Presidency and State House is subject to spending regulations just as provisions for any other government department. It does not become private money, to be used at the whims of one in power.

Mr Hinn is neither a development project for which Parliament voted funds nor a public emergency. To the contrary, Toufik Benedictus Hinn is, at best, a con man and charlatan whom numerous investigations have exposed for conducting fake faith healing sessions and an array of financial shenanigans.

We surely can get prayers conducted by credible preachers not aligned to the crazy prosperity gospel and staged miracle crusades inclinations. But, still, not at public expense.

[email protected]. @MachariaGaitho