Most Kenyans want Ruto out of Cabinet

What you need to know:

  • Steadman poll shows 71 per cent want ministers named in scandals to resign

A majority of Kenyans wants Agriculture Minister William Ruto to resign to make way for investigations into his possible involvement in corruption, according to a new opinion poll.

The Steadman poll released on Monday was carried out between February 18 and 20, when Mr Ruto survived a no-confidence motion in Parliament and shows that 56 per cent of the respondents want the minister to resign.

And the people are demanding scalps, a full 71 per cent of those questioned said they would like Cabinet ministers mentioned in corruption scandals to leave the Cabinet.

Achieved nothing

The survey also shows a shocking collapse of confidence in the grand coalition government, with 70 per cent of those polled saying that the government has achieved nothing apart from restoring peace after the disputed election.

Less than a third believed the government was committed to the big issues facing the country and only 33 per cent expressed confidence that the perpetrators of the post-election violence will be punished.

The majority (54 per cent) wants the grand coalition to survive the full term, but only a few (31 per cent) felt it would. This is a marginal decline in the 55 per cent who wanted it to serve the full term in a similar opinion poll last March and the 34 per cent who said they thought it will survive.

Of the 1,012 interviewed in the survey, 719 (71 per cent) answered ‘yes’ to the question: “Do you think there are any Cabinet ministers who should resign now in order that investigations about their possible involvement in corruption can be investigated?”

Asked to name the minister they believe should resign, respondents ranked Mr Ruto first, Energy minister Kiraitu Murungi (21 per cent), Trade minister Amos Kimunya (seven per cent), Security minister George Saitoti (five per cent), Prime Minister Raila Odinga (three per cent) and Justice minister Martha Karua (two per cent).

Political parties

The researchers did not ask the specific reason why the respondents felt the ministers should resign.

“We didn’t ask why the ministers should resign since the interviews were done by telephone,” said Tom Wolf, the lead researcher, adding that the sample they used was not national.

The poll showed significant marginalisation from political parties with 37 per cent of respondents saying they did not feel close to any political party, though the majority, 38 per cent, said they felt close to ODM.

The calls for resignation, however, showed a slight partisan slant: 51 per cent of those who want Mr Ruto to go are from ODM, 61 per cent are affiliated to PNU.

With regard to Mr Murungi, the numbers are almost evenly divided, 21 per cent of those who think he should resign associate with ODM compared to 19 per cent who said they were affiliated with PNU.

Mr Ruto has been under pressure to step aside over the handling of maize stores and the shortage of maize in the country, which has pushed up the price of maize flour, the nation’s staple.

He built a cross-party coalition to defeat a no-confidence motion brought by Ikolomani MP Bonny Khalwale.

Mr Odinga has not been directly mentioned in connection with the maize scandal, but he at one time announced that he had suspended an aide who was suspected to be involved in the export of maize from government stores to Southern Sudan.

Nothing has been heard about the matter since.

Mr Murungi has been in the spotlight over the Sh7.6 billion oil scandal involving Triton and high petrol costs, which caused hardship and raised the cost of transport and goods.

Mr Kimunya returned to the Cabinet last month after he was forced to resign over the sale of the Grand Regency Hotel (now Laico) to a Libyan company. He has also been criticised over Treasury’s handling of the sale of Safaricom shares, privatisation of Telkom and a cash printing tender by De La Rue on his watch.

Prof Saitoti was mentioned in connection with the multi-billion shilling Goldenberg scandal. He was Finance Minister during the Moi era major financial scandal, and is eyeing the presidency in 2012.

On Ms Karua’s case, some politicians and civil society leaders have expressed concern over slow pace in the fight against corruption. Only recently, the British Serious Fraud Office halted investigations into Anglo Leasing because of what it said was a lack of cooperation by Kenyan authorities.

Ms Karua’s critics say since the Judiciary that has been blamed for slowing war on graft falls under her docket, she should also be held accountable.

The poll shows the fight against corruption got marginally more support from PNU supporters (78 per cent) compared to ODM (71 per cent).

More PNU backers (59 per cent) want the coalition government to serve a full term than ODM (52).

Responses show the public is disillusioned with the government with the overwhelming majority (70 per cent) saying it has achieved nothing.

A few respondents listed the achievements of the coalition government as education (8 per cent), post-election violence (6), delivery of services (5), national reconciliation, food security and distribution of relief (3 each), fight against corruption and poverty alleviation (2 each) while improvement of security, economy, distribution of resources and health scored one percent each.

Thirty-three percent of those interviewed believed the government was committed to improving fire safety and disaster preparedness, 29 percent (post-election violence), maize scandal (27 percent) oil pricing (24) and extra-judicial killings (20).
Dominant party

Only a third said they believed political or business leaders responsible for organising or supporting the post-election violence will ever be convicted whether through a local tribunal or at the International Criminal Court. PNU supporters were the most optimistic (39 per cent) compared to ODM’s 31 per cent.

Support for ODM, the country’s dominant party, has declined from 53 per cent last July to 38 per cent, the survey found.
PNU and its affiliates are still second at 23 per cent, down from 29 per cent while Kanu only enjoys two percent support.

The results of the opinion poll were the first since Steadman started using the Computer Assisted Telephonic Interview (Cati) to carry out its research.

It involves calling people aged 18 and above whose phone numbers the firm has in its data base for the interviews. The respondents are chosen through random sampling.

The Steadman findings on corruption comes just a week after the Grand Coalition leaders were criticised by religious leaders for allegedly abetting corruption by failing to prosecute those involved.

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