Ruto: We will fix Uhuru Kenyatta's economic, security mess

William Ruto

President William Ruto speaks during an interdenominational church service at the Green Stadium in Kericho County on October 16, 2022.

Photo credit: PPS

President William Ruto Sunday accused his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta of presiding over an economic and security mess, which he said he needed time to fix, as he rolled out plans to finish dams and other projects whose construction he said were stopped due to political reasons.

For the second day running — first in Kirinyaga on Saturday and yesterday in Kericho — Dr Ruto said President Kenyatta and his preferred successor Raila Odinga had messed up the economy and the security sector. He said the two leaders had no right to criticise him as he sought to fix the mistakes.

“Our opponents, former competitors, should give us a break. They destroyed this country and they should now give us a chance to fix their mess. They had five years which they used to destroy everything in the country: They left us with a dilapidated economy, a debt-laden country, a deteriorated security, a police force out to kill the people instead of protecting them,” Dr Ruto said in Kericho County.

Dr Ruto said the disbandment of the Special Service Unit (SSU) of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) was the beginning of the winding of the clock of the previous regime. 

“We have disbanded the Special Unit that was responsible for killing Kenyans. . . I want to ask the people of Kenya not to be confused by what happened in the past. We also have a plan on how to secure this country so that we avoid the shame of Kenyans killed through extrajudicial killings and thrown in the Yala River and other rivers. We are going to secure this country. So I want to promise the people of Kenya that Kenya is on sound footing,” Dr Ruto said.

Extra-judicial killings  

Yala River was in the news last year and early this year as a dumping site for bodies that human rights agencies suspected could have been due to extra-judicial killings. 

The President and his deputy Mr Rigathi Gachagua said they had opened a new chapter in the country’s development and vowed to fix the economy, restore investor confidence, and allow industries to thrive, create jobs and unite the country.

“We have a plan on how to support our farmers so that we can produce enough food using subsidized fertilisers and quality seeds so that we can reduce the cost of living. We have a plan on what to do with agro-processing and value-addition of our products so that we can create jobs for our young people,” he said. 

Mr Gachagua said the Azimio coalition leaders cannot claim to play oversight too early in the day when the Kenya Kwanza was trying to fix the negative effects inflicted on the economy.

“The economy is in tatters and we need to fix it. We cannot clean up the economic mismanagement in 100 days. Once we are done with fixing the mess of the previous government, then the opposition can come forward and play oversight on us,” Mr Gachagua said.

The President said his administration will revive the stalled projects across the country including Itare, Kimwarer, Bosto and Soin-Koru dams in Nakuru, Elgeyo Marakwet, Bomet, Kericho and Kisumu counties which were starved of funds by the Jubilee administration for political reasons.

“We have a plan on what to do on agro-processing and value addition of our products so that we can create jobs for our people, secure the country and avoid the shame of youths killed and bodies dumped in River Yala,” Dr Ruto said. 

Dr Ruto said his administration will embrace value addition in agriculture and provide fertiliser and certified seeds subsidies to create wealth and jobs. 

“Why should we sell tea for 2 dollars and buy it back for 10 dollars after value has been added by others? Why can’t we add value and sell for a higher price?” Dr Ruto wondered.

The government will ensure that the cost of fertiliser is lowered within the next two years to Sh2, 500 per bag, from the current Sh3, 500 through a subsidy programme from the previous Sh7, 000 under the Jubilee administration.

They promised to honour the economic charter with each of the 47 counties in their five-year term, including the construction of 500,000 low-cost housing units countrywide despite the glaring economic challenges.

Dr Ruto said the county and national government will fast-track the planned annexation of 1,000 acres of land from the multinational tea companies to allow for the expansion of Kericho town.

The plan mooted over 10 years ago will create job opportunities with proper planning and setting aside industrial parks and other amenities that will spur economic growth and attract investors.

“We want the Kericho county government to identify areas where the government will put up 10,000 housing units that will create 5,000 jobs for the youth. We have investors who are ready to construct the housing units and the government will facilitate locals to purchase them through mortgage” Dr Ruto stated.

The President said Cabinet Secretaries were expected to serve all Kenyans irrespective of the regions they belonged to or political affiliations.

“I want to make it clear that Cabinet secretaries do not belong to villages, constituencies, counties or regions. They are in those positions to serve all Kenyans. We do not want the appointees to feel or be taken as belonging to regions or tribes, they are the people’s servants” Dr Ruto stated.

Mr Gachagua urged ordinary Kenyans and leaders to be candid with the government and the Presidency on the issues affecting the country.

“We do not want to be praised for things we are doing wrong. The President has said he does not want to be worshipped as he is just a human being and not God. Just tell him the truth when you get the opportunity to meet and sit with him” Mr Gachagua said.

The Deputy President said the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) had been directed to professionally deal with tax collection. 

KRA was among the institutions claimed to have been used by the Jubilee administration to “fix” accounts of business enterprises whose owners were seen to be politically affiliated with Dr Ruto. 

Kericho Governor Erick Mutai led his colleagues – Mr Stephen Sang (Nandi), Dr Hillary Barchok (Bomet) and Members of Parliament in demanding a solution to the tea plucking machines row in the region that has denied residents job opportunities.

“Of what use are the multinationals if they cannot employ locals, cannot pay enough revenues to counties and yet they post huge profits and threaten us they will relocate should we continue to criticise them? We are better off without them,” Dr Mutai said.

Mr Sang said there was a need to re-look at legislation governing the operations of multinational companies, especially in regards to exploiting locals.

Mr Gachagua said he will sit with governors from the affected regions and find a lasting solution to the issue.