Ruto: Ignore media, we’ve made strides
President William Ruto and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua on Saturday defended their Kenya Kwanza government, dismissing claims of broken promises and listing what they said were 20 achievements in their eight months in office.
In a list read by Mr Gachagua and quickly shared out by State House, the government said it has done its best and deserves applause.
Dr Ruto and Mr Gachagua accused journalists of bias, repeating the claim that the media sided with opposition leader Raila Odinga, who was backed by former president Uhuru Kenyatta, in the August 2022 presidential election.
“My deputy Rigathi says the truth, but it is like playing the guitar to a goat. Those he talks to never hear. They are writing all these bad things about us because their candidate lost,” the President said.
“We forgive them, but they should stop being angry. The election is over. Your candidate might win in future, maybe 2037. Stop the chaos. We want to unite the people. And I give you my commitment: We will work together, respect everybody and unite the people.”
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Mr Gachagua had a lot more to say.
“I will present the 20 achievements of the President so that you can carry them in tomorrow’s headline if you are bold enough,” the DP said during a thanksgiving event for Roads Principal Secretary Joseph Mbugua in Nyandarua County.
“President Ruto has kept more than 50 per cent of the pledges he made during the campaigns. He still has four years and four months to keep the promises.”
Dr Ruto welcomed debate on his achievements, likening it to a church choir “which is not an interruption of the sermon, but a critical part of it”.
He said Sh29 billion has already been borrowed from the Hustler Fund and Sh1.5 billion saved by 16 million Kenyans.
Dr Ruto added that seven million Kenyans are repeat customers of the Fund.
Mr Gachagua said the President appointed six judges of the Court of Appeal, adding that the judges hiring had been blocked by then-president Uhuru Kenyatta.
The DP said the government has increased funding of the Judiciary by Sh4 billion.
Mr Gachagua said the Kenya Kwanza administration named an independent accounting officer, who is not part of the Office of the President, “a big achievement” to give the National Police Service financial autonomy.
He praised the subsidised fertiliser programme meant to increase food security, saying more than five million farmers across the country registered.
In the list too was the operations of Mombasa port.
Mr Gachagua termed it a huge achievement as the port operations had been returned to Mombasa from Naivasha in Nakuru County.
He added that an economic zone has been set up in Naivasha, with others coming up in Busia, Kirinyaga, Uasin Gishu and Mombasa counties.
The DP said Kenya Kwanza scored big with the recruitment of 30,000 teachers for public schools, the highest number in the country’s history.
He said the Housing Fund, President Ruto’s pet project, would ensure thousands of Kenyans get decent shelter.
Mr Gachagua said 36,000 units are under construction, and that 41 of 47 counties have given 4,000 acres for more.
In the list read by the Deputy President, however, some of the “achievements” are proposals pending in Parliament, like those of the Finance Bill 2023.
It has those programmes that have been implemented – like the removal of subsidies and the government-to-government oil agreements – whose effects have not yet been fully felt by ordinary Kenyans.
Mr Gachagua said a 2kg packet of maize flour was retailing at Sh230 in September last year, adding that the price “has reduced to between Sh155 and Sh185 in many shops and supermarkets”.
He said importing goods through the Kenya National Trading Corporation has helped stabilise prices of basic.
However, only 20 per cent of Kenyans consume processed unga, with the rest being first-hand producers.
Earlier, President Ruto was in Kiambu County where he was urged to ensure a return of the Mwai Kibaki economic moment of 2002 to 2013 “in order to silence the hard-economic-times noise that is growing loud daily”.
The President was the guest of honour during centenary celebrations of Limuru Girls High School where Kiambu Woman Representative Anne wa Muratha said the country needs an economic rebirth.
“We would love to see you as our President for the next 10 years if only you can help us tackle the noise of the tough economic times,” she said.
Ms Muratha said she hopes what the Ruto presidency is undergoing is similar to what Kibaki encountered when he was sworn into office in January 2003.
“It is like the way we made noise during first days of Kibaki’s presidency when his government was said to have no direction. Ten years later, we were asking him to remain as president and continue with the good work.”
Kibaki, the country’s third president, came up with the Vision 2030 blueprint.
According to the plan, Kenya should be a middle-income economy by 2030. The country’s GDP greatly improved during the Kibaki era.
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Kibaki also improved the internal system of generating revenue to finance the national budget.
Tax collection had increased threefold by the time he was leaving office in 2013.
The Kibaki administration sought bilateral and multilateral pacts that saw increased export markets and battled market distortions and imperfections.
National Assembly Majority Leader, Kimani Ichung’wa, said President Ruto is laying the foundation of Kenya regaining the Kibaki memories.
“That first step is the Finance Bill, 2023, which is not as bad as it is being portrayed,” Mr Ichung’wa said.
“It is only being discussed in a distorted manner but the good side has been ignored.”
He said the President ensured the price of maize flour has gone down “from the Sh230 he found when he took the oath of office on September 13 last year”.
“The Finance Bill, 2023, is bringing in the six per cent Housing Fund to be recovered 50-50 from the worker and employer. It is a form of payback to the society,” he said.
“Privileged people like us should support the less fortunate live in decent houses and get work.”
President Ruto, who said his government would hire 35,000 more teachers and increase technical trainers budget from Sh5.2 billion to Sh10 billion.
He said the Housing Fund should be implemented.
He baptised the levy “mandatory patriotism”, saying the employed would help jobless people earn a living.
“We plan to build 200,000 houses every year. Those houses will create jobs for at least one to two million young people. I don’t see the reason anyone who is privileged with a job will have problems contributing to a national scheme to help the less fortunate,” he said during a TV interview on Sunday.
It is a position Mr Gachagua echoed in Nyeri County on Friday.
Mr Ichung’wa said the Finance Bill is bottom up-oriented “since it seeks to tax more those earning Sh500,000 and above per month”.
“They are only required to give us an additional five per cent as Pay As You Earn. It is targeting the privileged to support those at the bottom of the pyramid. Not every Kenyan earns that kind of money,” he said.
Dr Ruto told contractors tasked with delivering government projects not to be “cheeky”.
“In me, you have a person to whip you into transparency and accountability,” he said.
Kiambu Governor Kimani Wamatangi said Dr Ruto “will turn out to be the best president Kenya has ever had”.
“Kenyans will come to realise that we did not gamble. We know you as a worker who delivers. There are those peddling stories about your suitability,” Governor Wamatangi said.
“You are our man and will never be short of loyal and good people in your government.”
He added that Kenya still remember President Ruto’s days as a Cabinet Secretary.
He said Dr Ruto would “outshine Kibaki and all we require is patience and patriotism”.
“Even the Kibaki moment did not come like instant coffee,” the Kiambu county boss said.