Presidential debate fact check: DP Ruto's debt claim is partly correct

Deputy President William Ruto during Presidential Debate CUEA.

UDA Party presidential candidate and Deputy President William Ruto during the presidential debate at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa on July 26, 2021.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

Deputy President William Ruto on Tuesday went into the televised presidential debate with guns blazing against his main rival, Azimio flagbearer Raila Odinga. Below is a quote he made during the debate: 

“We borrowed Sh2.2 trillion. Our handshake brothers have borrowed Sh4.2 trillion.” - DP Ruto

Historical numbers for Kenya’s public debt can be found in the National Treasury, a compilation of Economic Surveys and the Central Bank of Kenya. Deputy President Ruto was referring to the amounts of debt borrowed during the first and second terms of the Jubilee government, respectively. 

We took the first term as lasting from March 2013 to August 2017 and the second term from that balance to May 2022, using monthly public debt figures provided by the Central Bank of Kenya as of 27 July 2022.

Based on the debt balances on these dates, the Jubilee government borrowed Sh2.7 trillion in the first term and Sh4.1 trillion in the second term, which is close to Dr Ruto’s figures of Sh2.2 trillion and Sh4.2 trillion. 

Although the numbers Dr Ruto quoted are close to published figures, it is not clear that the term “handshake brothers'' refers specifically to debt contracted after the handshake of March 2018, or what role Raila Odinga would have played in managing the nation’s debt. 



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