What you need to know:
- There are claims of the Deputy President fuelling State vehicles used in his campaigns countrywide.
- DP says state funding for important office activities stopped with no proper explanation in September 2021.
Deputy President William Ruto’s office now says it has not been receiving operational funds from the National Treasury just months to the General Election.
So bad is the situation that Dr Ruto uses his money to pay for accommodation and other expenses of staff, including security personnel, accompanying him to campaign rallies around the country, a worker told the Saturday Nation.
The source added that the accounting officer for the presidency refused to approve per diems and imprests for Dr Ruto’s staff.
The information, however, could not be verified.
In addition to staff expenses, the DP also fuels fuel government vehicles from his pocket after the votehead for this was frozen too, the source added.
Former presidential candidate Ekuru Aukot recently wrote to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission accusing Dr Ruto and Azimio La Umoja presidential candidate Raila Odinga of using public resources in their campaigns, to the disadvantage of their opponents.
Dr Aukot accused Dr Ruto of turning the Deputy President’s official residence in Karen to his campaign headquarters.
“An election where some candidates benefit from state resources is compromised and the results arising therefrom cannot be said to have complied with the provisions of the Constitution of Kenya,” he said.
However, the DP says contrary to Dr Aukot’s claims, his office no longer gets funding from the government.
Through his communications director Emmanuel Talam, the DP said state funding for important office activities stopped with no proper explanation in September 2021.
According to the DP, every department in his office is being denied money by the government, making him dig into his pockets.
Starving DP’s office
However, the salaries of Dr Ruto’s staff hired by the Public Service Commission (PSC) have not been affected but allowances and other benefits they are to receive while working outside their stations have been stopped, his office said.
“The office of the DP has not received money from the National Treasury. All the departments are affected. We are told it affects the entire government,” Mr Talam said yesterday.
“The Office of the Deputy President has made its own arrangements to ensure operations are not interrupted. Fortunately, the PSC has been paying staff salaries.”
Allegations of the government starving the DP’s office of cash date back to the day he was denied access to his official residence in Mombasa in January 2020.
The place was previously the residence of the Coast Provincial Commissioner in the former constitution. The DP had to spend the night at English Point Marina in Nyali constituency.
The government does not provide tea to the Office of the Deputy President.
The press team, which usually accompanies Dr Ruto in his campaigns rallies around the country no longer gets field allowances from the state.
“That is what the finance department has told us. We have been told it affects all government departments, including hospitality,” Mr Talam said.
“I don’t know how true that is. It has been going on since last year, around September.”
Dr Ruto started his presidential campaigns almost immediately he and President Uhuru Kenyatta were sworn in for their second term in 2017, to the chagrin of the Head of State.
Matters became more complicated when Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga reached a political deal in what is now famously known as the handshake of March 9, 2018.
The President has on many occasions accused the DP of absconding duty and concentrating on the 2022 campaigns.
The position of deputy president was created by the current Constitution.
It was given more powers to cure the shortfalls of the past when the vice president could be hired and fired at the president’s will.
So protected is the deputy president that the Constitution also shields the office holder’s remuneration and retirement perks, which are charged on the Consolidated Fund.
“The remuneration, benefits and privileges of the President and Deputy President shall not be varied to their disadvantage while in office. The retirement benefits payable to a former president and a former deputy president, the facilities available to and the privileges enjoyed by them, shall not be varied to their disadvantage during their lifetime,” Article 151 (2) and (3) of the Constitution says.
A source in the DP Ruto’s circle told the Saturday Nation that the funding may have been stopped by State House Comptroller Kinuthia Mbugua.
“Uhuru no longer fuels Ruto’s cars and even per diems are not paid. The presidency is Uhuru and Ruto. The budget and approval are done by the State House Comptroller. Mr Kinuthia does not allow DP’s vehicles to be fuelled at National Oil as it should be the case,” said the source who did not want to be named.
When reached by the Saturday Nation, State House said it did not want to be dragged into the matter.
State House spokesperson Kanze Dena said she had no comment.
Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani referred the Saturday Nation to the accounting officer at Dr Ruto’s office, saying he is not aware of the development.
“His accounting officer is in a better position to explain as I am not aware,” said Mr Yatani said in a WhatsApp response.
The Office of the Deputy President was allocated Sh1.4 billion with his perks and allowance increased by Sh582 million in the 2021/22 fiscal year.
Tour of the United States
However, the supplementary budget estimates presented to Parliament for review by the National Treasury last month showed the combined annual pay – basic salary and allowances – of Mr Kenyatta and Dr Ruto was to drop from Sh41.2 million to Sh36.4 million for the year to June.
National Assembly Budget Committee chairman Kanini Kega refuted Dr Ruto’s claims of his office being starved of money, arguing that his team approved the necessary funding.
“The claims are not true because we appropriated money to his office,” Mr Kega, an ally of President Kenyatta, said yesterday.
“Treasury disburses money depending on the amount. The Budget Committee of the National Assembly has appropriated it.”
According to the Kieni MP, it is hypocritical for the DP to say his office no longer gets money from the National Treasury while his tour of the United States and United Kingdom was fully catered by the government.
“It becomes a problem if they have audit queries. How can he be saying that he does not get funds yet his trips to the United States and United Kingdom were paid for by the government? Why should he complain when the money he used was from the exchequer?” Mr Kega asked.
Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok, who is also Dr Ruto’s presidential campaigns secretary general, shied away from commenting on the matter when contacted yesterday.
The development comes after Dr Ruto’s concentration on his campaigns daily sparked concerns from some quarters on whether he ever reports to work.
The Saturday Nation had established that the DP has not been reporting to work at his Harambee Annex Office for a year.
Additional reporting by Walter Menya