Raila Odinga: I’ll investigate William Ruto for his suspect landholdings in Coast

Raila Odinga

Azimio presidential candidate Raila Odinga addresses a campaign rally at Moi stadium in Voi, Taita Taveta County, on July 12, 2022.

Photo credit: Kevin Odit | Nation Media Group

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party presidential candidate Raila Odinga has pledged to investigate Deputy President William Ruto’s land dealings in Coast region if elected in next month’s General Election.

Addressing roadside rallies in Voi, Taita Taveta County, he accused the DP of illegally acquiring land in Mata yet a majority of residents are still squatters.

“He describes the 2,500 acres in this county as if it’s too little yet there are people here who are landless,” he said. Dr Ruto recently said that he was gifted the land by former Taveta MP Basil Criticos after he helped him to clear his loan at Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC).

Mr Odinga said he had tasked Mombasa Governor Ali Joho to deal with the land issue in the region.  Mr Joho, the designated Land Cabinet Secretary in Mr Odinga’s administration if he prevails next month, said he would also investigate how Mr Criticos acquired his vast sisal estate in Taveta.

“Why did he [Criticos] not give the land to residents? He should have started with the locals,” he said. He said the region supported Mr Odinga in previous elections and urged the residents to vote for him this year. “We’ve been behind Raila in all elections. We won’t leave him as we are close to State House,” he said.

Mr Odinga said he’s ready for the elections, saying the DP represents the past because he has never been an agent of change. “I will face him head-on. I urge you to come out in large numbers to vote. You should be armed with your voting cards and protect our votes,” he said.

The former prime minister promised to make Voi town a special economic zone by establishing a steel-making factory.

Suna East MP Junet Mohamed said an Azimio government would address historical land injustices and resettle thousands of squatters. He urged the residents not to vote for Dr Ruto due to his illegal land dealings. Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka accused the DP of perpetuating corruption. “We cannot afford to give the country to crooks,” he said.

Mr Odinga’s running mate, Narc-Kenya leader Martha Karua, said Azimio will institute measures to curb graft, adding that the former prime minister performed well in his previous roles.

“Together with Mr Odinga, we have never stopped fighting for the rights of citizens. We have the interests of the people at heart,” she said. Ms Karua warned the residents against voting for politicians who dish out handouts in order to influence their decisions. She described the DP as a self-seeking leader who is unfit to lead the country.

Murang’a Woman Rep Sabina Chege said Mr Odinga’s presidency would improve the economy.

She said an Azimio government would lower food prices. Taita Taveta Governor Granton Samboja urged Mr Odinga to ensure that the Tsavo National Park is reverted to community ownership.

He lamented that, despite the county being endowed with vast natural resources, its residents have not benefited from them. “Counties should get a percentage of revenues raised through their resources,” Mr Samboja said.