Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto
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Revealed: Details of Ruto, Uhuru talks over retirement benefits row

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In this file picture, President Uhuru Kenyatta in a meeting with the then President-elect William Ruto at State House, Nairobi.

Photo credit: File | PSCU

The talks between President William Ruto and his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday over the latter's retirement benefits happened following a series of behind-the-scenes engagements.

The ‘Nation’ has established that at the center of the closing of ranks between the Head of State and Mr Kenyatta was the Head of Public Service Felix Koskei.

Thereafter, President Ruto and Mr Kenyatta spoke on the phone at length on Tuesday morning.

Fresh details now indicate that the former President had on Monday held a meeting with Mr Koskei to address some of his grievances, including alleged refusal by State House to disburse more than Sh1 billion as well as the standoff over the location of his official office.

According to sources at State House, it was the Monday meeting that paved the way for the phone conversation.

In the meeting with the Head of Public Service, Mr Kenyatta reportedly requested that he be allowed to use his residence on Nairobi’s Dennis Pritt Road next to State House as his office, popularly known as Caledonia.

He also requested for additional security to guard the Kenyatta family's many homes, spread in Nairobi, Kiambu and Nakuru counties.

The former President also requested for additional staff. There has been a standoff over the renewal of contracts for Ms Kanze Dena, who served as President Kenyatta’s spokesperson and is now designated secretary, communication and Mr George Kariuki, who was designated as secretary, administration. 

On Tuesday, State House announced that President Ruto and Mr Kenyatta had agreed to constitute a team led Mr Koskei to address all the grievances at the heart of the current standoff that escalated on Monday following a press briefing by Ms Dena.

According to State House Spokesperson Hussein Mohamed, the team will address all the concerns, including office location, facilitation of Mr Kenyatta’s official duties as well as staff.

“This morning, President William Ruto had a conversation with his predecessor in office, the 4th President, President Uhuru Kenyatta, regarding concerns about facilitating the functioning of the retired President’s office,” Mr Mohamed said.

“President Ruto has consequently constituted a team, led by the Head of Public Service, to immediately address all the issues raised, including the location of the retired President’s office and the attendant staff establishment,” he said.

Nation has further established that President Ruto gave instructions for security organs to quickly address Mr Kenyatta’s security concerns.

Mr Koskei has also been instructed to engage the Public Service Commission (PSC) to address Mr Kenyatta’s request for additional staff.

The move by President Ruto to address the matter comes barely a day after Mr Kenyatta questioned the whereabouts of more than Sh1 billion allocated to his office in the previous and current financial year.

Mr Kenyatta – through Ms Dena – on Monday came out guns blazing, pointing an accusing finger at State House for frustrating his operations.

Citing the Presidential Retirement Benefits Act, the former president insisted that he was entitled to his benefits which is not a favour.

Ms Dena accused State House of denying the retired president a budget to run his office, saying he has not received a cent despite being allocated Sh503 million in the current financial year.

Mr Kenyatta has also reportedly not received new vehicles as stipulated in law and he is forced to use the old transition fleet, “which State House has refused to fuel and maintain.”

“The financial year 2023/2024 that ends in a few weeks the budget allocation to this office was 503 million shillings. The year is ending without the office having any access to this allocation. The total amount for the two years that we have not had access to is approximately 1 billion Kenya Shillings,” Ms Dena said.

She noted that whereas salaries have been paid as well as medical insurance, no other monies spent can be accounted for by the office of the former president.

According to documents in possession of Nation, Mr Kenyatta, through his private secretary Kinuthia Mbugua, had on May 9, 2023 written to State House Comptroller Katoo Ole Metito requesting official vehicles for the third retired president.

In his letter, Mr Mbugua states in part; “…the budget was approved, the procurement plan was submitted but to date we have not received any update on the purchase of the vehicles.”

Two days later, State House comptroller, through Mr John Makumi, requested Mr Kenyatta’s office to “urgently specify the make and preferred colour of the vehicles” for father action.

However, it regretted that the four state-of-the-art vehicles – Range Rover Vogue – First edition, Land Cruiser ZX-VXR K6 and two Mercedes Benz S 500 prices had exceeded the Sh140 million budget.

Ms Dena pointed out that it is public knowledge that the State House has been very clear on the position of the office in Nyari as the office that the former President should use based on the fact that the office was bought by the government. 

“It is important to note that the Nyari office was selected by the late President Mwai Kibaki as a suitable office space for himself. The statement that the former President enjoys a fully furnished and maintained office of his choice provided by the government is incorrect. To date the office matter remains unresolved.”

In the 2022/2023 and the 2023/2014 financial years, Sh20 million was approved each year for ‘rentals of produced assets’ under allocations for the retirement president – suggesting an initial consideration to lease his property before the decision was rescinded.

The provision has been scrapped in the projected estimates for 2024/2025 to 2026/2027 financial year.

On Monday evening, Government spokesperson Isaac Mwaura said in 2012/2013, the government purchased an office that would be used as the official office of the retired president. He said the office is located in Nyari, Nairobi.

“This is the office the late President Mwai Kibaki used for nine years, between 2013 and 2022. It is, therefore, a suitable office for a retired President, any retired President.

"By rejecting this office and preferring that the government leases his own private home, the Third Retired President is inviting the government to violate procurement laws, regulations and procedures. It is an adventure that the government cannot engage in,” Mwaura said.