Raila: These are my issues with Ruto government

Raila Odinga.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya Coalition leader Raila Odinga on Wednesday highlighted the shortcomings of President William Ruto's administration, warning that it could plunge the country into a governance and economic crisis.

He also wondered how a country in monumental crisis could be brave enough to "sacrifice its police officers to go and keep peace in Haiti where the superpowers have failed".

Kenya has agreed to lead a United Nations-backed multinational mission in Haiti to restore peace in the Caribbean nation, which has been plagued by criminal gangs that kidnap for ransom and engage in violent, often deadly, shootouts with police and locals.

Mr Odinga warned that the Haitian mission was not well thought out. 

“Soon we might start receiving caskets from the mission…not that I am against the spirit of helping and cooperating…but come to critically think about it, why Kenya and what was the applying criteria to have us send police officers to that place?” Mr Odinga said during an interview with KTN News.

He said Haiti was more of a political crisis than a security one and it required dialogue and consensus rather than a military solution.

Mr Odinga said the main structural problems plaguing the Ruto administration are having an unfit deputy president, poor fiscal discipline, bad economic policies and hatred for the opposition which it is trying to crush through the judiciary and blatant political deception.

He said Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua was unfit for the position because of "his divisive utterances and segregation of communities and regions by equating government [with that which serves only] shareholders".

Responding to questions on national television, Mr Odinga said "Mr Gachagua behaves like a president of Mt Kenya region instead of playing the national status the Constitution demands of him".

Saying the country had become a tax nation, he accused the government of playing Mr Know-It-All with no time for dissent “and once we attempt to float our concerns to remedy the situation we are accused of pursuing entry into government through the backdoor”. 

While the government sits stoically ignoring the voices of concern, he said, the stock market remains in the red as the shilling loses its power even against the Tanzanian shilling, let alone the euro and the US dollar.

Mr Odinga hoped that the Kenya Kwanza Alliance government would “ignore uncouth utterances being uttered publicly by some of its senior leaders led by Gachagua against the National Dialogue Committee that was sitting at Bomas, now readying to compile a report”.

Mr Odinga said he had chosen to remain optimistic that the committee would produce meaningful and beneficial outcomes for the country to correct the anomalies that have demeaned its economic development, political stability as well as disillusioned many from experiencing a sense of belonging.

“I have faith in the Bomas talks…I am giving the process a chance…Personally I’m being loyal to the goodwill agreement that we uttered at inception that where we promised that none from our respective wings will sabotage the process through deeds and utterances,” he said.

He added that, “unlike some of these Kenya Kwanza Alliance luminaries, personally I have my own views but I dare not voice them lest I be said to be insincere to the process. Our Azimio formation has remained patriotic about the process”. 

He said he has focused his agenda on highlighting to Kenyans the many ills President Ruto is perpetrating that are not beneficial to the welfare of the country.

“It is my submission that we have become an oppressive and indiscriminate taxation nation. The government is also progressing business cartel arrangement that gives some companies belonging to cronies some operational monopolies. As a result, we are losing investors to other countries like Egypt and Tanzania,” he said.

He said President Ruto has become a good dramatist when he travels abroad, especially to Europe, where he talks tough against global policies and sweet-talks investors

He said President Ruto has become a good dramatist while on foreign trips especially in Europe where he talks tough against global policies and sweet talking investors "but it will end to naught if he does not create a friendly environment to guarantee investment returns".

He told the President that "you cannot attract foreign investors with such business unfriendly taxes that are sinking the country into a joblessness hub by not creating opportunities".

He added that "under the prevailing circumstances even local investors cannot thrive hence the high cost of living ... felt by both the poor and investors" creating a "nation where no one can cushion the other".

He attributed the high cost of living to the Finance Bill 2023, which he described as "ill-informed".

Mr Odinga said he had done his best to oppose the bill "but they bribed and forced it into law...they manipulated the judiciary by going for the friendly officials who swayed the judgement in their favour".

To justify his claim, Mr Odinga said "it is in the public domain that President Ruto even warned Busia Senator Okiya Omtatah that he was wasting his time seeking to have the Finance Bill 2023 quashed, even declaring that no one could defeat the will of a sitting President about the tax proposals".

Mr Odinga said he was willing to advise the government on what it needed to do to remedy the situation, "but the problem is that it is insincere and ridicules well-intentioned pieces of advice".

He said the country needed to close corruption loopholes, implement austerity measures and widen the tax base while protecting the lower classes from the effects of inflation.

He said diplomats were welcome to work with the country, "but some overstep their mandate by meddling".

"My relationship with diplomats is okay, no love lost...but there are some that must go slow on interference in politics of Kenya," he said.

He said, "You saw some diplomats forcing Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman, Mr Wafula Chebukati, to announce results for the August 9 [2022] General Election even when there were grave misgivings about integrity of the results".

He accused some diplomats of "conspiring with vote thieves...we are not idle talking about vote thieves...We know who were involved, reason why we are saying servers be opened".

He said Azimio even knows who wrote the Supreme Court judgments, so "we say let the truth come out so that it can set us free...We want closure of this issue for the benefit of the future".

Mr Odinga said he wants the country's democratic process to be such that "the will of the people is the one that will in the future be coming out of the servers".

He said that when the integrity of democratic processes are compromised, citizens lose faith in elections "and this is being manifested in several countries that are embracing coups".

He said that he will not attend President Ruto's visit to Nyanza region.

"…I have no business being there... He is welcome but he should stick to official work [and] keep off siasa ya nyokonyoko (propaganda)... Our governors will support development drives but the President should keep off commissioning and launching county government projects," he said.

Mr Odinga said: "We know there are no projects from national government in those regions because people there are not shareholders...He is only progressing his United Democratic Alliance (UDA) narratives for the 2027 General Election – an election I'm yet to declare whether I will be in the ballot".