The many political debts president-elect William Ruto has to pay

President-elect William Ruto

President-elect William Ruto addressing Kenya Kwanza elected leaders at his official residence in Karen on August 17, 2022.

Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

President-elect William Ruto’s supporters repeatedly cited on the campaign trail President Uhuru Kenyatta’s publicly declared political promise to support his deputy at the end of his official two terms in office.

They stressed that President Kenyatta’s failure to keep this promise was the reason they doggedly rebelled against his preferred successor, Raila Odinga.

Now the shoe is on the other foot. The deputy president is facing a huge debt load of political promises made to key allies, which he will have to pay should the Supreme Court uphold his August 9 presidential election win.

Deputy President-elect Rigathi Gachagua will be seeking a 50 per cent share of the government to keep the politically restive Mt Kenya region calm.

Ford Kenya party boss Moses Wetang’ula and ANC party leader Musalia Mudavadi will be eyeing a share of cabinet and executive appointments to keep Western Kenya happy.

Outgoing Kilifi and Kwale governors Amason Kingi and Salim Mvurya will want to show their coastal supporters the fruits of their cooperation with DP Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza Alliance.

United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party chairman Johnstone Muthama and outgoing Machakos governor Alfred Mutua will also be keen to show their supporters the benefits of being in the ruling party.

All the while, DP Ruto’s Rift Valley backyard will be closely watching how their son’s rise to the helm will transform their lives, not to mention promises made to MPs elected on independent tickets and the United Democratic Movement party governors and MPs elect who this week threw their weight behind the deputy president.

The Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Alliance Coalition has indicated it will challenge DP Ruto’s win at the country’s apex court, in a case that will be decided in 14 days from the date of filing.

Should he win the court battle, the outgoing deputy president will have to figure out how to share government appointments with political allies who commanded big sway in their regions.

With his ardent supporters having repeatedly accused his boss President Kenyatta of not fulfilling the famous ‘kumi yangu, kumi ya Ruto’ promise, DP Ruto will be well aware that failure to honour his words will diminish chances of his re-election come 2027.

Fulfill all promises

DP Ruto’s presidential campaigns director-general, the outgoing Turkana governor Josphat Nanok, yesterday told Nation that the president-elect intends to fulfill all the promises he made to Kenyans.

“President-elect William Ruto will embark on fulfilling the Kenya Kwanza plan upon swearing in,” said Governor Nanok.

UDA chairman Johnson Muthama also said that those who had been promised positions should not worry that the promises will be broken.

Sharing of government positions is always a delicate balancing act for any administration that seeks to accommodate all those who helped to put it in power, but Mr Muthama argues that the government is big enough for them to fit in.

“We have won the elections and we’re going to form the government. The people who have said they were promised positions for working with William Ruto at the top level in campaigns are Kenyans”

“The positions we are going to have are very many, there is no way when he forms the government he will fail to fulfil the commitments he gave, he has already committed himself to serving all Kenyans from all parts of the country,” said Mr Muthama.

In a move that was aimed at neutralising Mr Odinga’s influence in Western, DP Ruto dangled the position of prime cabinet secretary and Speaker of the National Assembly to Amani National Congress (ANC) Mudavadi and Bungoma senator-elect Wetang’ula respectively.

“Within 30 days following the General Election, the coalition shall introduce in Parliament legislation that shall provide greater clarity on the position, roles and functions of prime cabinet secretary. The legislation so introduced shall amend the national government coordination Act of 2013 to include the office of the Prime Cabinet Secretary and incorporate and align the functions,” reads the agreement.

Even before the dust settles, the ANC boss has been nominated by his party for the position. Mr Mudavadi has also gone ahead to change his Twitter handle to call himself Prime Cabinet Secretary-designate, which could be interpreted as a move to remind DP Ruto that he has a debt to settle.

Although the president-elect’s allies insist that he is ready to fulfil all the promises he made during the campaigns, Mr Mudavadi and Mr Wetang’ula may have some more negotiating to do because the agreement was pegged on delivering 70 per cent of Western Kenya’s 2.2 million votes.

In May, the outgoing Tharaka Nithi Senator Kindiki Kithure, who is also the custodian of the agreement deposited with Registrar of Political Parties Anne Nderitu, disclosed that the duo agreed to the requirements, meaning they were to work extra hard to reap from the pact they inked.

"For Ford Kenya and ANC, it was decided that should we meet a certain threshold of votes where we have massive followings based on opinion polls and past elections, they can be assigned government responsibilities to a certain percentage. It is correct that the duo has to deliver 70 per cent of votes from Western, they would not have signed if they were uncomfortable with that requirement," said Prof Kindiki.

Mr Wetang’ula performed slightly better by delivering the governor, his Senate and five MP seats from his Bungoma County, but in Mr Mudavadi’s Vihiga, Mr Odinga got many more votes than DP Ruto.

Voters in Vihiga County gave Mr Odinga 143,371 votes representing 63.7 per cent of the valid votes in the county. On the other hand, DP Ruto, who the ANC leader was supporting, had 79,722 votes or just about 35.4 per cent of the votes. The ANC won six MP seats.

Coast region

The Kwale Governor and his Kilifi counterpart who were made principals in the KKA to counter Mr Odinga’s stranglehold of the Coast region were also promised government appointments as well as a plan to address historical land injustices in the area. DP Ruto promised that his administration would complete the Sh30 billion Mzima Springs Phase Two pipeline and also buy land from absentee landlords in the Coast region for settling squatters.

The DP promised Governor Kingi position of the Speaker of the Senate. People within the President-elect’s political camp say his strong push to have majority numbers in both the Senate and the National Assembly is to ensure that he fulfils the pledges.

“DP Ruto promised Governor Amason Kingi Senate Speaker post and Senator Wetang’ula the National Assembly Speaker and that is what he intends to do by the numbers he is looking for,” a source told the Nation yesterday.

Maendeleo Chap Chap leader Alfred Mutua on May 15, 2022 disclosed that after ditching the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya of Raila Odinga, Mr Ruto promised him the slot of deputising Mr Mudavadi, who is set to be appointed Prime Cabinet Secretary. This means that both Mr Mudavadi and Mr Mutua will be in Mr Ruto’s Cabinet.

“Ruto made it clear that Mudavadi had negotiated for Chief Minister: he offered me the Deputy Chief Minister position with a ministerial portfolio in Infrastructure Development. His interest in me is not just about winning but the wealth of knowledge and ‘chap chap’ ability to work and transform Kenya that I would bring to his government,” Mr Mutua disclosed shortly after joining the Kenya Kwanza team.

ANC party leader Musalia Mudavadi (left) and Ford Kenya boss Moses Wetang'ula

ANC party leader Musalia Mudavadi (left) and Ford Kenya boss Moses Wetang'ula. They were promised 30 percent of government by Ruto.

Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

In addition to sharing the government with Mr Gachagua, Mr Ruto promised to revive all stalled projects in Mt Kenya and committed to revive the economy of the region by providing ready markets for traders and not touching the ‘Nyamakima economy’.

Being a former district officer, Ruto promised to give Gachagua the Interior docket currently held by CS Fred Matiang’i and his principal secretary Karanja Kibicho, and that of trade among others.

“If Ruto was to give me an opportunity to assist him in managing the affairs of this country, I will be a champion of guaranteed minimum returns for our cash crops; coffee, tea, rice, miraa among others and also help him turn around the economy by insisting that we have a Biashara Fund to assist small-scale traders to expand their businesses,” Mr Gachagua said in April.

“I’m also a strong champion of zero tolerance on evictions and demolitions that are done in a brutal and inhumane manner. I would also help him restore the dignity of civil service because they are demoralised. There is too much interference, mistreatment,” he added.

The United Democratic Movement (UDM) yesterday signed a post-election agreement with Kenya Kwanza Alliance, adding to the President-elect’s growing list of political debts.

“They are coming at a time when the victory is home. Apart from development being rolled out in their areas, they will get a share of government based on their numbers. They are likely to get ambassadorial positions, few parastatal chiefs and a principal secretary,” said a source familiar with the negotiations.

In addition to the promises directly tied to Western Kenya political kingpins, DP Ruto also promised to write off debts that sugar factories owe the government as well as renegotiate those owed to other entities within 100 days of taking office.

Another debt he will have to settle is reversing legal and administrative changes over the use of the standard gauge railway (SGR), a pet project of President Kenyatta’s administration.

Mr Ruto said he would return major operations shifted to Naivasha and Nairobi to the Coast to end the economic deprivation facing local communities.

Prof Masibo Lumala of Moi University yesterday said DP Ruto pushed himself in a big gamble by planning to reverse the SGR deal, arguing that it is an idea that was conceptualised and implemented by a government that he is part of hence.

“This SGR concept was done when he was still in government and he is still in government. We do know that there were mistakes done, more so when it comes to extending it to the dry port in Naivasha. It is something Kenyans hope someone will say we will improve on it and make it more efficient rather than saying reversing it,” Prof Lumala argued.

In agricultural rich areas like the Rift Valley, Central, Nyanza and Western; farmers are waiting for him to lower the cost of fertiliser from its current price to Sh2,500 per 50kg bag as he promised in the campaigns.

In Mount Kenya, besides government positions, the residents will be expecting him to offer them guaranteed minimum returns for their tea, coffee, milk and pyrethrum among others which his deputy has been so much passionate about as well as reviving some of the stalled road projects.

DP Ruto pledged to, within his first 100 days in office, establish a Sh50 billion Hustlers’ Fund, allocate 50 per cent of his Cabinet to women, implement the problematic two-thirds gender rule for appointive and elected officials, and halt allegedly selective investigation and prosecution of corruption cases.

Women leadership

The DP said his government will increase the number of women in leadership positions, create a Sh50 billion fund for women and the youth, provide new mothers with free diapers for three months and give free sanitary towels to schoolgirls.

Deputy President-elect Rigathi Gachagua in an interview asked Kenyans to relax saying that some of the pledges that were made by his boss in campaign rallies will be implemented immediately they are sworn into office.

“William Ruto knows very well what he promised Kenyans including reducing the cost of maize flour, fuel among others but he can only do them when he is sworn into office. I know it will take time because we have to appoint a Cabinet that will help in executing these plans but in 100 days they will be implemented,” said Mr Gachagua.

As Mr Ruto will be sweating to fulfil his promises, some political parties in KKA like Chama Cha Kazi (CCK) of Moses Kuria, The Service Party (TSP) of Mwangi Kiunjuri, Democratic Party (DP) of Justin Muturi, the Communist Party of Kenya, William Kabogo's Tujibebe Party, the Farmers Party, Devolution Party of Kenya, Economic Freedom Party and Martin Wambora's Umoja na Maendeleo Party will also be angling to get a share of the Ruto government based on the number of seats they have bagged in the just concluded elections.

"Subsequent to the outcome of the General Election scheduled August 9, Chama Cha Kazi (CCK) shall be allocated a share of the appointive positions within the national government as may be agreed commensurate with the number of members of County Assemblies, National Assembly, Senate and Governors elected through the CCK ticket and the general role played and effort by CCK in the presidential campaigns preceding the General Elections," reads the agreement signed between the Kenya Kwanza Alliance Coalition and CCK.

At the same time, the funds the coalition will get from the exchequer through the office of Registrar of Political Parties will be shared based on the numerical strengths of the affiliate parties of KKA.

"Chama Cha Kazi shall be allocated a share of the monies received by the coalition from the Political Parties Fund as may be agreed commensurate with the number of members of County Assemblies, National Assembly, Senate and Governors elected through CCK ticket, the general role played and effort by CCK in presidential campaigns in the General Election putting into consideration the formula contained in the Political Parties Act for sharing funds from the Political Parties Fund," adds the agreement.