President Ruto goes against campaign pledges

President William Ruto and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua in Nyeri

President William Ruto and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua share a light moment during a Kenya Kwanza campaign rally at Karatina town on May 21, 2022. 


Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

On his campaign trail, President William Ruto berated the rival Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition for “prioritising sharing of government jobs among politicians at the expense of economic revival to benefit the majority poor”. 

By nominating 50 Chief Administrative Secretaries (CAS), creating the Prime Cabinet Secretary post and suggesting the creation of an office of the Official Opposition leader, Dr Ruto appears to be reading from a different script from his campaign manifesto.

“Kenyans don’t want to be told about positions. They are more concerned with being told how we are going to create jobs,” Dr Ruto often told his supporters in the run-up to the August 9 General Election.

In just six months, the President has committed most of the “sins” he accused his predecessor, Uhuru Kenyatta, of committing.

From creating a bloated edifice of political offices for his allies to engaging in heavy borrowing, Dr Ruto is literally following in the footsteps of Mr Kenyatta.

He is also on the spot for heavy taxation and “state capture” of independent agencies, among them the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP), Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), going by the trend in which cases involving his allies are dropped while officials in the past administration are targeted for prosecution. 

National Assembly Majority Leader, Kimani Ichung’wa, has pressed KRA to go after the Kenyatta family over “tax evasion running into billions of shillings”.

As Deputy President, Dr Ruto strongly opposed the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) that envisioned the creation of three more offices in the executive – the Prime Minister and two deputies – and that of the opposition leader.

“Proponents of reggae (the BBI) wanted to change the Constitution and create powerful positions for individuals but the reggae was stopped by the courts. There is God in heaven,” he said last year.

Macharia Munene – a professor of history – says the creation of positions has painted Dr Ruto in a bad light. 

He cites offices of the spouses of top officials as some of the unnecessary positions that have tainted the image of a president “who is out of touch with struggling masses”.

“To tell people that you are going to run a lean government, only to end up having the largest Executive the country has ever seen is not good for his image. It is clearly not a job to be done but an attempt to create a source of income for his allies,” Prof Munene says.

“Creating positions for wives of officials is not positive. It shows that he does not care about the burden ordinary Kenyans are carrying.” 

Raila Odinga

Kiambu Town: Raila Odinga, who lost the August Presidential election to the incumbent President William Ruto, kicked off his rallies in Ruaka before his motorcade snaked its way through Kiambu town, Kirigiti, Ruiru and later Githurai 45 estate.

Photo credit: Simon Ciuri | Nation Media Group

ODM Deputy Party Leader and former Kakamega Governor, Wycliffe Oparanya says it is surprising to see the President do exactly what he accused his predecessor of doing.

Voters' disregard

He says it is a sign of disregard to the voters for a man who rose to the presidency on a platform of focusing on job creation for the poor.

“Why should there be three CASs in every ministry? When we came up with the BBI, he said we were only interested in creating positions for the political class,” Mr Oparanya said. 

“Now he has named 50 election losers to a position that has no value. They said their focus would be reviving the economy. Kenya’s economy is now on its knees as politicians get jobs.”

Mr Oparanya said some of the current Cabinet Secretaries are always out of the country at the expense of the struggling taxpayers.

“He has travelled more than Uhuru in the same period. Some of his ministers have their briefcases at airports as they are always flying out,” he said.

United Democratic Alliance (UDA) Secretary-General, Cleophas Malala, however, said the government needs the expertise of many people to fix the economy.

“Every CASs will be in charge of a state department to help the ministers in their work. Their roles have been clearly elaborated by the Public Service Commission,” the former Kakamega senator said. 

“They are qualified Kenyans ready to serve this country. You must have people to run around if the economy is to be revived.”

Said Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei: “In the past, ministers used to be 40. There are huge ministries that cannot be managed by one Cabinet Secretary and a Principal Secretary,” the senator said. 

“Ruto has also rewarded loyalty. The work the CAS will do is more than the money they will be getting.”

Dr Ruto and his allies had also accused Mr Kenyatta of using KRA and security agencies to blackmail politicians into supporting the Azimio coalition. 

President William Ruto

President William Ruto. In just six months, the President has committed most of the “sins” he accused his predecessor, Uhuru Kenyatta, of committing.

Photo credit: Pool I Nation Media Group

Dr Ruto also claimed that most of the corruption cases against his allies were politically instigated.

Upon assuming office, most of the cases facing his allies were dropped by Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji, in a move that critics said had the blessings of the Presidency.

The DCI recently quizzed former Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i for hours. 

The case against the former powerful minister was later dropped after a series of meetings by politicians from his region. 

The incident and the recent push by some Kenya Kwanza lawmakers to have KRA go for Mr Kenyatta and his family point at a similar pattern of using state agencies to settle political scores.


Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang said the weaponisation of independent institutions is getting worse in Dr Ruto’s administration.

“We have seen it from the ODPP, the KRA, the Controller of Budget and the DCI,” Senator Kajwang said. 

“What the heads of these institutions don’t seem to realise is that there will come a time they will be held to account. That will be a lonely day as they will carry their crosses individually. Their puppet masters will not protect them. This is why I appeal to heads of independent institutions to do the right thing for Kenya and avoid being used to pursue political vendetta.”

ODM chairman John Mbadi said people associated with Mr Kenyatta are being targeted while those allied to this regime have had their cases dropped. He added that even the judiciary was also under state capture.

“It is wrong when the government decides to weaponise the fight against corruption. When this regime came to power, they started withdrawing cases against people allied to it and had the same state agencies go after people who supported Azimio,” Mr Mbadi said. 

“It is a dangerous trend because ordinary people will lose confidence in our Judiciary. There is a perception that these agencies are getting orders from certain quarters.”

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Secretary-General Junet Mohamed said: “The forest is the same. It is the monkeys that changed. They are using the same tactics they claimed were used on them. You toe their line or they unleash security agencies on you.”

Under the “Ending State Capture” sub-topic, Dr Ruto had in his manifesto promised to establish, “within 30 days, a quasi-judicial public inquiry to establish the extent of cronyism and state capture in the nation and make recommendations”.

He accused the Jubilee government of being beholden to cartels, fraudsters and economic saboteurs.

Some of the individuals Dr Ruto has appointed to key government positions have had criminal cases, including tax evasion. 

National Assembly Deputy Majority Leader, Owen Baya said KRA does not require prompting to carry out its mandate. 

He dismissed accusations that security agencies are being used to target state opponents.

“The fact that the case (Matiangi’s) was dropped does not mean they were instructed by someone. We have the ODPP that has the final say on whether a case has merit to proceed for prosecution,” Mr Baya said. 

“Even KRA does not require not require prompting to swing into action. What the politicians are saying does not in any way influence their decision.”

"Insufficient evidence"

Mr Cherargei echoed the sentiments, saying many cases are dropped daily for lack of sufficient evidence.

“Every case has a threshold. When the DPP dropped the case, it was because the evidence provided was not sufficient. It is not that the case was decided on political grounds,” he said.

Dr Ruto had also accused Mr Kenyatta of heavy borrowing to finance projects that were not having an immediate impact on the lives of Kenyans. 

He said Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga were using their political alliance to push through public debt and punitive taxation.

“Was the handshake a licence to burden Kenyans with punitive public debt, punitive taxation, punitive food prices and a high cost of living?” Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi asked during the campaigns.

Early this week, Italy pledged to advance Sh14 billion to Kenya in grants and soft loans for various projects on top of Sh76.8 billion syndicated loan the Treasury is seeking through four international banks. 

In his first three months in office, Dr Ruto’s administration borrowed more than Sh137 billion, recording an average monthly borrowing of Sh45.8 billion.

About four months before the polls, Dr Ruto said the high fuel prices were not due to ordinary market responses to global crude oil price dynamics but a result of “collusion between monopolistic cartels and economic saboteurs on one hand and oblivious, reckless, insensitive and incompetent public officials on the other.”

The state announced in its latest fuel price review a record high of Sh179.30 for petrol, diesel (Sh162) and kerosene (Sh145.94) in Nairobi.