Prominence of Ruto, DP Gachagua’s children at state functions elicits debate

Cecily Mbarire, Charlene Ruto

Embu Governor Cecily Mbarire, Charlene Ruto, Deputy Governor Kinyua Mugo.Charlene paid a courtesy call on the Governor when she visited the region.

Photo credit: Pool

A tour by President William Ruto’s daughter of three counties yesterday has lifted the lid on the role children of the President and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua are playing in the new administration.

Children of the two leaders have become a constant feature in meetings across the globe.

Days after being sworn in as Kenya’s fifth President, Dr Ruto visited Uganda.

While having talks with his Ugandan colleague Yoweri Museveni in Kampala, Dr Ruto’s daughter, June, and her husband Alex Ezenagu were a few tables away.

Ms June Ruto was part of her father’s delegation to Kampala for the country’s Independence Day celebrations.

Yesterday, Charlene Ruto caused another buzz with her series of meetings with county government officials that started early this week.

Boardroom meeting

The President’s third born early this week visited Isiolo Deputy Governor James Lowasa at his office in Isiolo town where they held discussions on the effects of global warming on Kenya.

Isiolo is among the counties worst hit by the prolonged drought that has exposed more than 150,000 residents to hunger.

 Charlene Ruto

Kitui County Assembly Speaker Kelvin Katisya with Ms Charlene Ruto on October 28, 2022.

Photo credit: Pool

Among the interventions proposed at the meeting that was also attended by County Trade Chief Officer Lucy Kaburu was a tree-planting drive.

“Tree-planting shall be conducted in December along with a follow-up engagement with stakeholders,” the President’s daughter later tweeted.

She then held meetings with Embu Governor Cecily Mbarire at her office before touring Tharaka Nithi County Assembly offices in Chuka yesterday morning.

Sources at the assembly said Ms Charlene Ruto met Speaker John Mbabu around 7am.

Later in the day, she held a meeting with Kirinyaga Deputy Governor David Githanda.

She shared photos of a boardroom meeting with senior Kirinyaga County government officials.

Some sources said Ms Ruto discussed agriculture, tourism, climate change and youth economic empowerment with Mr Githanda.

Investment in hospitality

“Kirinyaga is ripe for investment in hospitality and value-addition of crops like tomatoes. It was a pleasure sitting and sharing on these matters with Deputy Governor David Githanda. The progression of our counties is the progression of our country,” she tweeted.

Ms Charlene Ruto held another meeting with Kitui County Assembly Speaker Kelvin Katisya last evening.

Earlier in the month, Ms Ruto was accompanied by young politicians in paying a courtesy call to Ghana Infrastructure Investments Fund officials.

Charlene Ruto

Ms Charlene Ruto. 

Photo credit: File | DPPS

The “delegation held discussions on how Ghana and Kenya can learn from each other in strengthening investments”.

Some netizens say Dr Ruto and Mr Gachagua’s children have been in the limelight since the two leaders took the oath of office on September 13, accompanying them and even taking part in state events.

On October 13, Mr Gachagua went with one of his two sons – Kevin – out of the country.

They attended the Youth Connect Africa Summit in Kigali, Rwanda with a number of lawmakers, including Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu), Linet Chepkorir Toto (Bomet Woman Representative), Karungo Wathang’wa (Kiambu Senator) and Sylvanus Osoro (South Mugirango).

Mr Gachagua, was also accompanied by one of his sons to Kajiado County for the World Food Day celebrations.

The prominent involvement of Dr Ruto’s children at state events is a departure from former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s family, whose appearance was minimal.

Mr Kenyatta’s children largely kept off official events attended by their parents.

A majority of the events they attended alongside Mr Kenyatta and their mother Margaret were mainly family.

Mr Javas Bigambo, a political analyst, says the company of family members is a necessary social pillar for leaders.

He adds that it cannot be expected that state officers would operate independent of and to the exclusion of their families.

“Their trips should not be over-philosophised or put on a microscopic moral indignation that denies the leaders their sense of social being,” Mr Bigambo said.

“To the extent that the children have not executed any mandate or duties that their fathers or mothers should execute, no one can lay blame on them.”

Special events

Mr Dismas Mokua – another political commentator – says in diplomacy, it’s a best practice for heads of state and government to travel with everyone for official visits.

“It is expected when travelling in the capacity of a head of state for state/official visits where you’re going to be accorded diplomatic privileges and hospitality to be with your spouse because they’re factored in the arrangements,” he said.

“As for children, the host will normally arrange special events or customise programmers requiring their presence.”

According to Mr Mokua, the concern over spouses or family members accompanying presidents/prime ministers to state events is not a legal or moral question.

Reporting by Anita Chepkoech, Alex Njeru, George Munene and Waweru Wairimu