Ruto dangles bag of goodies in battle for PWDs’ votes

Speaking at the Nairobi economic forum for PWDs at Ngong Racecourse, the Kenya Kwanza Alliance leader assured the group a share of his Cabinet, government appointments, access to credit and business opportunities and contracts, should he win the August 9 elections.

Photo credit: DPPS

Deputy President William Ruto has dangled a bag of goodies in the battle for votes from persons living with disabilities (PWDs) as the succession race enters the homestretch.

Speaking at the Nairobi economic forum for PWDs at Ngong Racecourse, the Kenya Kwanza Alliance leader assured the group a share of his Cabinet, government appointments, access to credit and business opportunities and contracts, should he win the August 9 elections.

Their representatives had cited lack of access to education, collateral to access credit facilities, proper representation, unfriendly working environment and lack of legislation on PWD issues.

They urged the Kenya Kwanza Alliance to nominated 94 of their members to county assemblies, two Senate seats, one Cabinet slot, two principal secretaries and two nominated MPs.

Dr Ruto said his administration will nominate an MCA in each of the 47 counties to ensure they are well represented in the local assemblies.

He also pledged to ensure PWDs with local purchase orders (LPOs) automatically qualify for the Sh50 billion ‘Hustlers Fund’ after the group asked for a five per cent share of the kitty.

“We are going to be deliberate on access to business opportunities for PWD. You will not need any other requirements. We will give you money to supply whatever you want to actualise your business ideas,” said Dr Ruto.

On access to government procurement opportunities (AGPO), nominated MP David Ole Sankok said although 30 per cent of state opportunities are set aside for the youth, women and PWDs, the latter is marginalised and are left with a paltry 0.5 per cent.

“In the charter that we will sign, let each group get equal proportion and on the value of the tenders and not number of tenders,” he said.

On employment, the DP said his government will reach out to the private sector to ensure they hire more PWDs. The constitution provides that five per cent of government jobs should go to PWDs, though only one per cent has been achieved.

True hustlers

“You are the true hustlers, people at the bottom of the pyramid as you suffer prejudice to make sure we have a country where everyone is proud of. PWDs want opportunities and not sympathies,” Dr Ruto said.

On education, Dr Ruto said he will advocate for a special scholarship for PWDs and double the current bursary available to ensure the group has the best chance to take their children to learning institutions.

He will also increase the number of schools, integrated or special, so that learners with different disabilities acquire the best quality of education.

“The Sh30,000 bursaries to every student is not enough. The schools are also too few and far between. We will make sure the facilities are near you. We must give them the best chance possible to acquire knowledge so that children already disadvantaged by disability are not again disadvantaged with lack of education,” said Dr Ruto.

Mr Sankok said PWDs in Kenya have problems with access to assistive devices and called on Dr Ruto to ensure NHIF covers their purchase and zero rates charges on importation. “PWDs are the true hustlers and we assure you that you will get 99 per cent of our votes because you have walked with us through the journey,” he said.

Nominated Senator Isaac Mwaura asked the DP to ensure the 10 issues they raised are incorporated in the Nairobi Economic Charter to form part and parcel of the Kenya Kwanza manifesto.

He said a majority of PWDs are from single-parent households and poverty is like a Siamese twin to them because of limited access to education, stigma and discrimination.

“The biggest challenge we face is negative attitude but we will not relent in fighting for our space. We will vote for Dr Ruto because we are your fellow hustler. We remain confident that your government will take care of us,” he said.

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