What you need to know:
- President Ruto declared that the war on graft was his to lead and that will be ruthless.
- Murang'a Woman Representative Beatrice Njeri told the president not to compromise in the war on graft.
- Kanini Kega, the former chairman of the parliamentary Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Committee, urged the President to personally supervise the war against trade cartels.
President William Ruto on Friday declared he will personally lead the war on graft and that he will have no favourites.
Stating that the war is his to lead and that he will be ruthless, the President said, "I will take personal responsibility on accountability for resources. No one will be allowed to steal the republic's resources You try ... you will encounter me personally,."
He added, "I have told everyone - my friends and those who are not my friends - that corrupting public resources is a no-go zone. I will be speaking less on this but actions will declare my intentions louder [sic]."
He spoke at the burial of three-time presidential aspirant David Waweru Ng'ethe in Kandara constituency, Murang'a County. Waweru served as Kandara MP after a court nullified George Mwicigi's win, occasioning a by-election. He was the father of seven children, among them Dagoretti South MP John Kiarie.
The President has, in two days, sacked the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (Kemsa) board and suspended 27 other government officials over the sugar scandal that was first reported in 2018.
Among the Kemsa casualties is Ms Josephine Mburu from Kiambu county, who had been serving as Health public secretary.
Bernard Njiraini, who was the managing director of the Kenya Bureau of Standards |(Kebs), was sacked while several others have been questioned by the police over the sale of condemned sugar estimated to be worth more than Sh163 million.
At the burial, Murang'a Woman Representative Beatrice Njeri told the president not to compromise in the war on graft.
"Mr president, we should all agree that regardless of the ethnicity of the corrupt, they should be made aware that this is not a government of thieves and underperformers. Do not hesitate to kick them out. We will stand in total agreement with you," she said.
“If they are from this region, just kick them out and have them prosecuted. We will rally behind you.”
Murang'a Governor Irungu Kang'ata lauded the President for dealing with Kemsa, which he said has been transformed into “a source of death for poor Kenyans”.
"People who can steal medicines meant for poor Kenyans must be tackled hard and ruthlessly. We stand by you. Hit them hard … we support," he said.
Majority leader Kimani Ichung'wa said the country stands to lose if it does not tackle the dragon of graft.
"Let us manage this war. Corruption denies us so many benefits and makes our populace so skeptical that all funds will end up stolen," Mr Ichung'wa said.
He noted that the president is tackling institutional networks that promote graft - “a battle that must be won”.
Budget committee chair Ndindi Nyoro said the little cash available in a difficult economy must be guarded, “not given lip service”.
He said the President deserves utmost support in dealing with the menace once and for all.
'No ordinary cartels'
Speaking separately, Kanini Kega, the former chairman of the parliamentary Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Committee, urged the President to personally supervise the war against trade cartels.
"These are not ordinary cartels. They need a firmer hand and a firmer authority. President Ruto's government has started exhibiting signs of resoluteness in confronting them. The President should batter them," he said on Inooro TV.
Mr Kega said the raging debate on sugar cartels, where 100,000 kilos of toxic sugar were released into the market, is just the tip of the iceberg.
Kebs had marked the 20,000 fifty-kilo bags of sugar as unfit for human consumption and consequently ordered that it be destroyed at the owner’s cost by either burning or burying.
"The killer sugar cartel also includes the same characters syndicating in fertilisers, maize, medical supplies, narcotics … investigating them is very hard," he said.
Mr Kega, who is now East African Legislative Assembly MP, said he came to understand cartels better in 2018 when his committee investigated them.
"These cartels are dangerous, united and influential. They deal in huge volumes of killer contraband. Their interest is profits. The sugar batch being debated now is just a drop in the ocean," he said.
He added that the cartels control almost every institution mandated to investigate them.
"After I investigated them in 2018, we wrote a report and named suspects who included three cabinet secretaries. The cartels invaded Parliament and unleashed unimaginable influence that led to our report being shot down in less than 20 minutes," he said.
Defence Cabinet Secretary Adan Duale was the majority leader in Parliament at the time. He teamed up with his minority counterpart John Mbadi in shooting down the report.
Mr Kega said, “The MPs were aggrieved by the fact that I mentioned people in power who are involved in the unscrupulous trade of illegal sugar, the reason they rejected my report within 20 minutes without reading it. It was a predetermined move,” he said.
In commiseration, Mr Kega then said, “It is shameful that an elected leader can take money to shoot down a report that cost the taxpayers millions of money. Some leaders are not setting a good example for Kenyans".
He said that even though it was crystal clear that the sugar was unfit for human consumption, Parliament aided the cartels in sanctioning its release to the market.
The legislator said the Directorate of Criminal investigations and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission can investigate the cartels, "but they need to be complimented by a bigger hand”.
“It is the time for that executive hand to assert its authority,” he said.