Deputy President William Ruto has rubbished claims that President Uhuru Kenyatta has elbowed him out of the heart of power to obstruct his 2022 presidential bid.
For the first time, Ruto dismissed claims that Uhuru’s reorganisation of the executive, placing Interior CS Fred Matiang’i at the helm, was meant to diminish him.
The DP maintained that he and Uhuru planned the reorganisation together and categorically state that Matiang’i reports to him (Ruto).
“Those sideline stories have no basis at all. The functions of the Deputy President are in the Constitution. The President and I agreed how we are going to make government much more efficient and to deliver,” Ruto said.
He was speaking yesterday on BBC’s Hard Talk show hosted by Stephen Sackur.
The DP continued, “His (Matiangi’s) committee is a Cabinet committee that reports to the President and myself. How on earth can you talk of sidelining if the same committee ultimately reports to the President and myself?”
On January 23 in a surprise decision, Uhuru named Matiang’i — known as Mr Fix It — chairman of the National Development Implementation and Communication Cabinet Committee.
He’s the development czar, a super-minister charged with implementing Uhuru’s Big Four.
The committee includes all CSs, Attorney General Kihara Kariuki and Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua.
The powerful committee is responsible for the overall supervision of all national government’s programmes and projects.
The Matiangi-led committee reports directly to the President, according to the Executive Order that established it.
Pundits say the elevation of Matiangi to a ‘super minister’ has overshadowed Ruto and sapped his influence.
Ruto had been going around the country inspecting, launching projects and distributing in what appeared to be blatant campaigning.
Here are excerpts from BBC’s Hard Talk:
Sackur: On the 22 of August, the Ipsos polling organisation asked Kenyans which politicians in your country do they believe to be corrupt. Thirty-three per cent said you…Why do you think you are seen by so many Kenyans as the epitome of a corrupt politician?
Ruto: If you look at that list, they put William Ruto, they put a former president, they put the current president, they put the former prime minister. Largely, all political leaders that exist today in Kenya, were in that list, in that order.”
Q: And what does that tell us about the political class in Kenya?
A: That tells you the whole corruption narrative has been politicised… We have the fight against corruption on the eyeball. The country today believes strongly that this government is serious about the fight about corruption. There are results that are clearly bearing fruits.
Q: Tell me about the Weston Hotel, which you own, which is worth an awful lot of money, and which is sitting on illegally acquired land.
A: Weston Hotel is a big story….You will want to believe that Weston Hotel occupies half of Nairobi. Weston Hotel sits on 0.7 hectares of land.
For your information,the Weston Hotel was bought. In fact for the record, National Land Commission has made a finding that Weston was an innocent purchaser of value from somebody who got it illegally and reparations have been made constitutionally to restore that land to the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority by demanding that those who sold the land to us must pay.
Q: Why have you not followed the President’s instruction in what he calls a lifestyle audit? To actually go public with all your wealth and assets. Itemise all of it and show it to the Kenyan public. You haven’t done it, have you?
A: For the record, I am the only politician in Kenya who has been subjected to a lifestyle audit. No other politician. The audit was done by the media. It’s in the public domain. At the moment, we are working on a legal framework where lifestyle audits can be conducted for every public servant starting with the president and myself.
Q: When you catalogued all your assets how much were you worth?
A: That is information is available in the public domain. You should have done some research before you came for this interview…
Q: If it’s in the public domain, then it’s not a secret, so tell me how much are you worth?
A: It’s in the public domain, Sackur. I encourage you to Google and find out what William Ruto owns…I encourage you, Sackur, to go the website on Parliament and get that information… I am prepared to tell you where to find the information.
Q: Do you think that position you are taking with me makes any sense?
A: Ruto: Of course it does. It doesn’t make sense to you. Why don’t you want to do your homework?…I want to promise you that when the legal framework is established by all of us as a government, William Ruto will submit himself to a lifestyle audit. I have nothing to hide. I have earned every cent that I own in a legal and transparent manner.
Q: Have people close to Uhuru Kenyatta completely lost faith in you?
A: The person that matters to me is Uhuru Kenyatta. For your information, the Vice Chair whom you are referring to walked away. Yes, David Murathe because he overreached himself and said things he wanted the country to believe was the position of Uhuru Kenyatta when it was not.
Q: Murathe says you are not fit to be Kenya’s next president?
A: There are very many people who are opposed to my candidature but there are millions who believe that I am fit for the job. I want to tell you that it will not take one person or a gang or a group to decide who becomes the President of Kenya, or for that matter who becomes the candidate of Jubilee. It would take the entire Jubilee party leadership and membership and 45 million Kenyans to decide who become president.
Q: If you look at the political situation inside government today, it’s driven by factionalism, by jockeying for position and you in particular are seen as somebody who has lost that solid partnership with President and that is now seen as a source of tension.
A: Let me tell you for the record, the understanding between me and President Kenyatta is rock solid. We know where we were, we know where we are and we know where we are going. Our assembling of the Big Four was informed by the success of our programmes over the last five years.
Q: You have grand ambitions and big targets. The problem is that there is a cancer eating away at your government and you know fully well what it is. It’s corruption.
A: The government as it’s constituted today, is singularly focused on the Big Four, we have made that clear. We have taken corruption head-on as government, in fact, there is no government after Independence that has taken corruption as seriously as the Jubilee administration.
Q: Look at the facts, even the signature infrastructure projects, like the China-funded railway between Mombasa and Nairobi, are being undermined by senior government officials who are on the take, who have been convicted of taking systemic bribes.
A: In fact, you have given an example of how our anti-corruption mechanisms are bearing fruits. Any person, involved in corruption knows today in Kenya that they will not escape our dragnet.