Ruto hits out at Uhuru over anti-graft war

Deputy President William Ruto

Deputy President William Ruto. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Deputy President William Ruto has promised to ensure all suspects are prosecuted, no matter their relations with the powers that be.

In an exclusive interview with NTV on Sunday night, Dr Ruto said the anti-graft fight has been politicised, noting that the allies, family members and friends of those that wield power are not touched.

He accused President Uhuru Kenyatta of running a scheme to tarnish his name.

“Things were cooked for a convenient reason to blame one William Ruto. For instance, the issue of Kimwarer and Arror dams’ contracts... do you know that they have never been cancelled and they are alive? Regardless of the statements and declarations that they make, why have they not cancelled the projects?” he posed.

Dr Ruto lamented that the corruption war, as it is, now serves no good and was aimed at derailing his presidential bid, vowing that he is in it to the end, and will win.

In a straight punch to his boss, Dr Ruto said that “when the President is the one who is giving us lectures on who to investigate, arrest, charge... he himself becomes untouchable,” noting that the whole process becomes a matter of institutions worshipping the powers that be instead of delivering on their mandate.

If he were the President, Dr Ruto said, he would not protect his loyalists, friends, relatives and allies, “not even me”.

He said all those associated with his political formation—including his running mate Rigathi Gachagua—will continue with their cases even if he wins in the August 9 polls.

“If they have merit, they will succeed and they will be convicted but if their cases were politically instigated, they will fail. Nobody should be safe from the rule of law... be it my deputy, be it the President. This is the only chance we have in fighting corruption and win. I will empower the institutions to even prosecute the President...why not? That is the law,” Dr Ruto said.

He said the same people who claim to be committed to the fight against corruption continue to steal Sh2 billion per day from public coffers, loot Covid-19 medications at the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (Kemsa) and “steal from Kazi Mtaani programme, where out of the Sh1,000 approved as pay per day for every beneficiary, more than half is not reaching them”.

Dr Ruto said the President had given an ultimatum of 21 days for the Covid billionaires to be apprehended but these many days later, nothing has been done since “it is about political friends and relatives of so and so...”

He said should he emerge victorious in the polls, his approach to fighting corruption will have no hypocrisy, sacred cows and will be structured to avoid being used as a political tool.

“I will operationalise the Judiciary Fund to empower it deal with corruption...a corruption case should not take us 15 years to determine. I will restructure the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), [Office of the] Attorney-General (AG), Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)... give them complete financial autonomy and political goodwill to deliver,” he said.

The DP said he will, within 90 days, deliver a formula to fix the thorny issue of two-thirds gender rule.

“Within one year I will be through. We will start by giving women half the Cabinet, use administrative interventions, Bills already drafted... to serve the whole array of women at the bottom of the pyramid with empowerment programmes,” he said.

Dr Ruto said the solution lies in passion, commitment and political goodwill.

He added that he has accepted that the President is not supporting his State House bid “and I would prefer that we discuss my candidature... it now has nothing to do with Uhuru Kenyatta. When I chose to support him in 2013 I did not give him conditions. I did not demand anything from him... rather it is him who promised me his support. But that is perfectly in order. He has decided to support someone is his right.”

Dr Ruto said should he fail to win, he will be content and will surrender to the voters’ verdict.

“You can rest assured that I will hold no demonstrations, swear myself in, uproot the railway... I will be satisfied... I am appreciative that I have come this far, identify that many people would have loved to be Deputy President... It is not something that I take for granted... I will be content, support who will win and become part of the society,” he said.

He reiterated that there are tell-tale signs that his main competitor Raila Odinga’s backers in ‘the system’ seek to corrupt the vote.

“We have heard stories that cast doubts to transparent elections. There were efforts to remove some commissioners, remove voters from Mt Kenya and Rift Valley from the roll... that does not need a rocket scientist to know what that alludes to,” he said.

But he warned that “you cannot steal my votes”.

The DP said he is not worried “that they will interfere... they will attempt and they will fail. Unless something very drastic happens, we will have a credible election”.

He added that the major achievements of the Jubilee administration—tarmacking 11, 000 kilometres of road, expanding electricity connectivity from 2.3 million connections in 2013 to the current 8.9 million and orienting the education system towards technical courses, where there are over 500,000 enrolments today — have his imprints.

“I spent many hours with sectoral players in my boardroom at Karen residence laying out the plans. I worked with Cabinet secretaries on how to be cost-effective and how to implement... the President’s role was mostly concurrence,” he said.

Dr Ruto added that he helped President Kenyatta craft the Big Four Agenda where the plan was to ensure the country achieved rapid industrialisation, food sufficiency, universal healthcare and adequate affordable housing.

He defended Mr Gachagua, his running mate, as “a passionate leader, a people’s person who speaks my language about the ordinary Kenyans... he believes in the people, bottom-up economic model like me. That is why I settled on him.”

About claims that he favoured him against more ideal candidates, Dr Ruto said that “those are stories... I had five people I was looking at... I consulted friends, party members, stakeholders... I took time to consult and the outright winner was Gachagua. All the others are wonderful people, great... only that the chance was one at one time and it was him”.

He said that should he win the presidency, he will ensure that he relates well with his deputy, contrary to the persecutions unleashed on him. “It will never happen with my deputy...I would not, for example, tolerate my juniors humiliating my deputy. I have put it in writing on responsibilities that my deputy will wield. My deputy will be a very busy person. If he goes rogue, there is the law that dictates the cause to be followed,” Dr Ruto said.

He said the peaking of the humiliation came with the Handshake “that made my office something else. I was only left with dealing with counties, random assignments and my enterprise as a public servant to get something to do”.

The DP added: “There are people who thought they could frustrate me out of office. I could not let them do so...peddled stories that I had abdicated duty ... which duty, assignment was I given that I did not discharge? They avoid that question.”

He added that his juniors also sought to humiliate him.

“It has been a journey. They said that I will not be in the ballot, that I will not reach 2022...they were said in front of the President,” he said.