Gachagua: Kenya Kwanza will win the presidency by 60pc of total votes cast

UDA running mate Rigathi Gachagua

UDA running mate Rigathi Gachagua.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

In the second of a two-part series, UDA running mate Rigathi Gachagua talks to Sunday Nation writer Walter Menya on their August polls prediction, expounds on their economic policy and the fight against corruption.


Q. You accuse the media of overstating Raila Odinga lead in polls. What does your polling show?

Kenya Kwanza will win the presidency by about 60 per cent of votes cast. Nothing has changed over the last few months except the fake opinion polls the media is pushing. We live with the people every day.

When you say Raila Odinga has a support of more than 20 percent in Mt Kenya region, I wonder, which mountain? I live there and I talk to people and nothing has changed. We are going to win this election by over 60 percent.

That is the reality and I want to ask our people to ignore opinion polls. These polls are not new. In 2007, they were saying that Raila was winning. In 2013, polls were putting Raila at 50 percent while Uhuru was in 30s. When results came, they were the exact opposite.

Those polls are just what they have always been. They are fake and they are meant to create an opportunity for people to reject results. It is unfortunate that even the newspapers are giving them a lot of credence. The same newspapers are carrying two polls saying different things.

Q. Kenya Kwanza is preparing to launch its manifesto next week. Could you give highlights of what is contained in that document?

I don't want to pre-empt anything. It would be good if you waited. But I want to assure you that it will be about the economy. The focus will be the economy and the people of Kenya. Our manifesto will be informed, not by what professors and economists and statisticians and leaders think but by the views of the people we have collected across the country.

We have held so many economic forums and we are remaining with five or six counties, which we are going to do before the date of the manifesto launch. The views we have collected from the people are the economic changes that they desire in their lives. That will inform our manifesto. Our manifesto is people-driven.

Q. In what ways will the Kenya Kwanza manifesto differ from the Azimio manifesto?

With Azimio, there was no manifesto. They came up with statements that lack clarity and details, laced with threats. When people say they want to ban mitumbas, I don't know what kind of manifesto that is. Ours will be a serious blueprint. It will be a serious plan of how we intend to turn around this country and change people's lives and how we intend to empower the people of Kenya to grow and improve their lives. I don't want to start making comparisons, but let's wait and see.

Kenya Kwanza has made many campaign promises but the ones I am interested in are the many affirmative action funds. Your alliance plans to set aside tens of billions of shillings for youths, women and other vulnerable groups. From where will this money come?

There is a lot of money in this country but it has been spent on wrong priorities. We spent billions on BBI. That is the kind of money that will be available to small traders to do business. Our competitors have said that their first priority is to change the constitution and they need to spend Sh50 billion. William Ruto and Kenya Kwanza have said that they will give Sh50 billion to businesspeople at very modest interest rates. There is money. We just have to get our priorities right. There is a lot of infrastructure development that has been capital-intensive. We want to do infrastructure that is labour-intensive so that we also create jobs.

Q. The DP has been in the government since 2013 and he was much in control in Jubilee’s first-term. Why couldn’t he influence the implementation of these promises at the time?

The successes of the first-term are out there for everybody to see: the improvement of about 8,000km of roads to bitumen standard, the connectivity to electricity, the SGR and others. During the second-term, we take no credit or blame for what happened or did not happen. Everybody knows that we were thrown out of government. The deputy president was rendered ineffective and his duties were allocated to CS Fred Matiang'i. President Uhuru Kenyatta and his handshake partner (Raila Odinga) should take credit for whatever was done and equally take blame for what has not been done, including the high food prices and those of basic commodities. The cost of unga is at Sh200. It is the same thing with the cost of soap, fuel and cooking oil.

During the first-term when Deputy President was part of the government, food was affordable. The first term we were dealing with the hardware: infrastructure. That was the basis. All these things were planned for the second term under the Big Four Plan.

We had four priorities: food security, universal healthcare, manufacturing and housing. Manufacturing and housing components were about what Kenyan Kwanza is saying: creating employment for the people, especially the youths. What was postponed by the handshake is what we are re-inventing as Kenya Kwanza under the leadership of Ruto.

Q. The counter-argument to what you have just said is that some external factors are also impacting prices of basic commodities. Do you agree with this?

I don't think there are any external factors involved. The cost of food did not start rising because of the problems in Ukraine. It is just an excuse. The real reason is that we got our priorities wrong as a country. We spent four years on BBI and we forgot what is important. You are aware of what happened during the Covid-19 time. Food was set aside to help the people but it was never issued to them. It was stored for the campaign period. It is only now that the food is being released to bribe voters to vote for Azimio.

Also look at Kazi Mtaani, which is a political thing and not meant to help the young people. The county commissioners have clear instructions to only register youths who support Azimio. We would rather these youths get money to start income-generating project that are sustainable. Kazi Mtaani is not sustainable and is not being done because they genuinely want to help the young people. It is a bribe to the youths to vote in Azimio. But as it is, the people doing those jobs are so few that it is alienating the majority. And even those who didn't want to vote for us are considering their positions.

Q. What practical measures is your alliance proposing to reduce the prices of fuel and other basic commodities?

We are practical because we listen to the people. The handshake government has been very insensitive to the people. We must look at taxation of food items. You know something like unga is a very important commodity that any responsible government must look at very carefully. You cannot have exorbitant taxes on food items that are very critical to the people. These are some of the things we are looking at. We have a team that is looking at the whole issue of food prices and what we can do within the first 100 days to stabilise prices and make food affordable to the people.

Reducing taxes is one of the strategies, including for fuel. You also look at the cost of production. We used to have big subsidies on fertiliser so that you cut the cost of production.

Those are things we are looking at in totality. I must also say that in the petroleum industry, there is a lot of conflict of interest and state capture. That is why we are having prices that are beyond the reach of the common people.

Nearly 60 per cent of our problems in this country have been caused by conflict of interest and state capture. Projects have stalled, especially where there are no interests of the powers-that-be. But projects where these powers have interests are ongoing and are well-funded.

Q. With regard to fighting corruption, your rivals in Azimio have made it a key pledge in their manifesto. In the case of Kenya Kwanza, where do you stand on the issue?

We intend to fight corruption and do so the right way by granting financial and operational independence to our institutions. As it is, the existing institutions have been used to do politics. The war against corruption has been weaponised. We intend to free the institutions involved in the fight against corruption from political manipulation. That will come out in the manifesto.

Q. The Hustler Fund: How will it be different from the existing affirmative action funds like Uwezo, Women Enterprise and Youth Fund? What will happen to the existing funds when Hustler Fund is established?

The existing funds will continue because they are good. The only issue is that the money available is too small. In my constituency, I think we get about Sh12 million a year from Uwezo Fund. The Hustler's Fund is Sh50 billion, that is an average of about Sh150 million per constituency.  This money is specifically to empower people to do business, both groups and individuals. That is the difference. The Uwezo, Youth Fund and Women Enterprise Fund will continue, but in addition we will have the Hustler's Fund.

Q. Won't you be duplicating what the existing funds do currently?

No, it is not a duplication. It is diversity so that we help as many people as possible. The Women Enterprise Fund, for example, the allocation is not big. But we want it in such a way that some can be accommodated in the Uwezo Fund but Hustler Fund is dedicated to helping small businesspeople, those who have no collateral to give to obtain loans. This Fund will not have more than 5 per cent interest rate. We are saying that government must take responsibility to ensure that its people have access to affordable credit. This is the way to transform this economy. Once we get as many people empowered, we automatically widen the tax bracket as more people pay taxes and more revenue.

Q. You have chaired a number of Kenya Kwanza economic forums across the country and I would want to imagine that there must be some general themes that runs across the country. What are they?

Need for affordable credit. The bottom line for all the forums is the desire by the people to have access to affordable credit. Number two, agricultural rich areas are crying out for guaranteed minimum return for their cash crops so that farmers are able to cover the cost of production and also make some profit. That will enhance production and improve cash flow in the country.

We have taken all these things into consideration and will inform our manifesto.


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