Azimio la Umoja One Kenya flagbearer Raila Odinga has opened a new battlefront with his bitter foe in the succession race, Deputy President William Ruto, over the use of state resources in presidential campaigns.
Mr Odinga’s camp has petitioned the electoral agency over Dr Ruto’s alleged use of government resources in his campaigns.
In a letter to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission boss Wafula Chebukati, Azimio wants the agency to address at least five issues to ensure level playing field ahead of the August 9 elections.
It wants IEBC to issue a cease-and-desist order to stop Comptroller of State House Kinuthia Mbugua from facilitating the Office of the Deputy President. The coalition wants Mr Kinuthia to stop funds for hospitality services to the DP’s office as “they’ll be used in political gatherings”.
“Section 107 of the Elections Act states that a member of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, or any person designated by the Commission, shall have the power to impound or to order the impounding of any state resources used in an election campaign,” states the letter signed by Azimio secretary-general Junet Mohamed.
“We are perturbed by the fact that the DP continues to use state resources both prior to and after the official campaign period.”
He said the use of state resources confers on the DP undue advantage over his competitors.
“He has redirected all the official top-of-the-range vehicles attached to his office to his campaigns. These vehicles are fuelled and maintained by the taxpayer and, therefore, ought to be deployed for official government business not the Deputy President’s campaign,” states the letter.
Azimio also want IEBC to stop the DP from holding political gatherings in his official residence.
“Our concerns are hinged on the fact that the DP has, with impunity, continued to host delegations of United Democratic Alliance supporters in the official residence. These delegations feature persons openly dressed in UDA-branded attire, who are consequently entertained with hospitality services footed by the tax payer,” states the letter.
Mr Odinga’s camp says Sh23,967,500 out of the Sh575,963,916 approved budget in the DP’s office in the 2022/2023 financial year goes to hospitality services.
“Therefore, it is unjust, illegal and unconstitutional that the Deputy President is brazenly using these taxes amid the current economic problems in the country to finance his political activities,” states the letter.
“This trend replicates the 2021/2022 financial year, where Sh23,967,500 out of the Sh562,409,292 approved budget was spent on hospitality services.”
Azimio camp has also raised concerns that the DP has retained numerous civil servants who are public officers and whom it says, their main role is to campaign for him in both mainstream and social media outlets.
“The active involvement in campaigning by officers who draw their salaries and allowances from the taxpayers and more so to spread hate and vitriol against other candidates, is unacceptable and expressly forbidden by section 23 (2) of the Leadership and Integrity Act.”
Mr Odinga wants action taken against the staff; criminal or civil, for engaging in partisan politics.
“We therefore want IEBC to demand that the staff at the Deputy President’s office remain impartial.”
He also wants IEBC to impound all non-authorised government vehicles that the DP uses for campaigns, and instructs the relevant government agencies to examine the state of the vehicles, “with any necessary repairs being borne by him on a personal capacity not by taxpayers.”
“IEBC should also issue a demand stopping the DP from linking his personal social media handles to the government-provided website, and sees to it that no campaign videos or live feeds are uploaded on the website,” states the letter.
Mr Odinga’s team is concerned that Dr Ruto could be using the huge allocations to his office to finance campaign staff and not public officers.
“With such unprecedented impunity, it is almost certain that the entire allocation of close to Sh150,000,000, constituting both salaries and allowances, is used to pay the DP’s campaign staff and not public officers,” states the letter.
“Though he calls himself a “hustler”, the DP has assigned himself 257 police officers, whose role goes beyond guarding the so-called “hustler”, for they are also involved in running his campaign logistics. This is gross misuse of our officers that ought to be sanctioned by IEBC.”
Armed police officers
The coalition says it’s a national security risk for armed police officers to campaign for any candidate.
“It is a major concern because should a confrontation arise between them and members of the public, there would be bloodshed in the country.”
The DP’s spokesperson, Mr David Mugonyi, refused to comment on the latter. “The Nation is asking me a question? Since when?” he posed.
The Director of Communication at the DP’s office, Mr Emmanuel Talam, added: “The Nation is an interested party in this election and cannot purport to ask such questions.”