I shall deal with negligence and corruption, Ruto warns CSs, top State officials

William ruto

President William Ruto (left) presents a copy of a performance contract to Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Forestry Cabinet Secretary  Soipan Tuya and her Principal Secretary  Festus Ng’eno at State House Nairobi on August 1, 2023.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

President William Ruto on august 1, 2023 read the riot act to Cabinet secretaries and other top government officials, promising a swift and tough response to laxity, negligence and complicity in corruption.

The President, who locked out some key officials who were late for the signing of performance contracts at State House, urged officials to get out of their cosy offices and into the field to explain government policies, achievements and opportunities to the people.

“We have a job because we have a contract. If you cannot keep time with your employer you have basically dismissed yourself, it is just as simple as that. For those who came late and they are members of the Executive, I will be expecting a written explanation and it should not include matters of traffic,” President Ruto said.

He lamented general laziness in government and instances where he knew more about certain ministries and departments than the CS and PS, a scenario he said was borne out of them not reading briefs and familiarising themselves with information from the technical teams.

Ruto orders govt officials late for State House event to submit written explanation

The President reminded the top State officials that their constitutional role was to advise him, and wondered how they could do so with scant information on their dockets.

“I find that many of you don’t even know what is going on in your ministries or departments. You have very scant information. The moment I know more than you in your ministry, then, you must begin to understand that something is very wrong. Because, by constitution, you are supposed to advise me,” the President said.

He warned against corruption in government, saying he will implement a zero-tolerance policy against graft.

“I shall hold every officer serving in government, beginning with you, to account for both their performance in service delivery and stewardship of public resources. I shall deal with cases of negligence, misappropriation, embezzlement, theft or other misconduct or corruption in relation to public resources summarily and decisively,” said Dr Ruto.

“There are people who are looking at some of our projects as opportunities to steal money. It will not happen. I made a commitment to Kenyans that there will be no money to steal, just for service delivery. It is time that the culture of corruption comes to an end. The moment we realise you have intentions to steal we are going to deal with you,” he added.

He insisted that the officials’ responsibilities included going out to the field, explaining government policies and collecting feedback on programmes being run by them.

“Find time and travel to see people who have hired us. Travel to different parts of the country and get feedback from the people. The moment you are not sure what our commitment is, my economic team is here they can assist you with that,” he said.

Noting that performance contracting is seen by some as a routine, unimportant exercise, President Ruto said that this time it will be different.

“These performance contracts have been going on for 20 years that many people maybe mistakenly think that it is a ritual and that is why people resort to the old incompetent excuses that there was traffic for them not to be in the most important public function,” said the President.

A total of 20 Cabinet Secretaries—save for Interior’s Kithure Kindiki and Investments’ Moses Kuria—signed the performance contracts.

“The terms of the contract are fairly straightforward. In return for paying their due taxes in a timely fashion, the citizens of this country not only expect but are entitled to receive the benefit of all government services in a prompt and satisfactory manner,” said the President.

He went on to announce the immediate termination of over 1,000 government Paybill numbers, ordering all State agencies to receive payments through number 222222 and under the eCitizen platform.

“From today all government agencies should use the government pay bill manned by the National Treasury. All other Paybills will be shut down and if there will be one operating after today ... let me not say beyond that,” he said.

During the event, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua chastised government officials for being late, saying it was irresponsible for officials to be late for events where the President was to speak.

He also backed President Ruto’s directive last week limiting foreign travel for top officials to only 45 days per year, and only four people per delegation led by a Cabinet Secretary, with no personal assistants and security officers allowed on such trips except for those aiding persons living with disability.

“Sometimes I wonder, why you feel compelled to accept every invitation extended to visit other countries. There are instances when we struggle to convene Cabinet committees due to the absence of up to eight ministers who are out of the country. Some even have to change clothes at the airport as they jet off from one nation to another,” said Mr Gachagua.

The DP challenged those he says see themselves as friends with the President to stop using it as an excuse their non-productivity.

“Once the President has given you a job, the friendship with him is purely based on performance. My relationship with the President is based on my performance I know if I don’t perform, that relationship will be strained,” the DP said.

He asked the top officials to go out of their way to attend media interviews, go out to the field to explain policy to the people.