Deputy President William Ruto (above) on Tuesday evening used a live television show to defend himself and the government from allegations of corruption and insecurity.
Appearing on the “Big Question” on Citizen TV, Mr Ruto accused political detractors of being “jealous” of his political success and insisted the Jubilee government was working to deliver on their manifesto.
From the chaos at the anti-corruption commission to the saga of Lang’ata Road Primary School and back to the scandal at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, Mr Ruto maintained the same line of innocence, accusing political opponents of dragging his name and that of the Jubilee administration into the scandals.
“There is a consistent narrative being developed. Initially, they thought this government would not survive… These are people who are doomed in a way because they cannot believe that it is actually happening before their own eyes,” he said of unnamed political opponents soiling his reputation.
For a start, Mr Ruto argued the recent resignation of commissioners at the Ethics and anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) was welcome because they were not taking the fight right on.
“They didn’t have what it took to run the anti-corruption campaign, but the commissioners were relieved following due process that is provided for in the Constitution,” he told the show’s host, Hussein Mohammed.
“What was the President supposed to do, was he supposed to hold them and say, ‘Please don’t go’ (sic)?”
“It is given that the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission as constituted then didn’t have what it takes to run the anti-corruption crusade.
“There was a serious credibility problem because of the way they were appointed, because there (was a) lot of infighting, because there were letters flying left, right and centre and commissioners accusing each other of this and that,” he said.
The commissioners, Mumo Matemu, who was chairman, Irene Keino (vice-chairman) and Josephine Onsongo all resigned from office following a storm of wrangles. But it had also followed a petition from a member of the public who wrote to President Uhuru Kenyatta to demand that the commissioners be removed from office for publicly accusing each other of undue conduct.
By the time a special tribunal led by retired Judge Jonathan Havelock was sworn in, the last of the commissioners (Mumo Matemu) was resigning. The tribunal wound up.
But then there was the famous list of shame, where senior government officials stepped aside to allow investigations.
While Mr Ruto said he would assign credibility to investigations, he argued the country’s independent judicial offices, the DPP and EACC, have the duty to investigate corruption issues and were therefore the best to tell Kenyans why many have been left off the hook.
Yet Mr Ruto had his personal allegations to deal with. In the hour-long interview, he admitted having “interests” in the Weston Hotel, but denied it had grabbed public land from the Lang’ata Road Primary School.
In January this year, the school made headlines when its pupils were teargased as they protested against a developer who was allegedly hiving off their playground.
The case has since moved to court, with the AirPort View Hotel claiming it owns the part initially hived from Lang’ata Road Primary School, although Ruto’s name and Weston have been associated with the matter all through.
“I want whoever is making that allegation to look at me. My name is William Ruto. There is a person who owns the land of Lang’ata Road. He has not denied ownership.
“He is not a ghost. He is not a foreigner. He is a Kenyan. He is in court. He is the owner of Airport View Limited, which owns an entire estate near Wilson Airport,” he said.
Mr Ruto admitted that he is a part owner of the Weston Hotel, but argued the land it sits on was neither owned by the Civil Aviation Authority nor by the school.
“It is not something that you can apply guesswork. How does a person who is in court and says I am so and so…how does that become William Ruto.
“I have interests in Weston Hotel. Weston Hotel is completely different from Lang’ata Road Primary School. Each one has its own title. The Title for Lang’ata Road Primary school is in court.
“The Land we bought, the transfers are there. We didn’t buy from KCAA. We bought the land from people who had been allocated the land and the documentations are there. Why is it so difficult for people to get the truth?”
But Mr Ruto then ventured into the controversial Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital upgrading project, which he recently stopped for being too exorbitant. The saga began when tapes of recordings were tabled before a National Assembly Committee by businessman Herbert Ojwang’, formerly Raila Odinga’s personal assistant.
On Tuesday evening, Mr Ruto repeated his argument that the design of the project did not follow any tendering and was simply a “deal” to fleece Kenyans.
Ojwang is said to have “negotiated” the deal in which the Chinese were to renovate the hospital at Sh17 billion for him to get a 5 per cent cut.
When Ruto stopped the project, politics and accusations flared. Ruto admits Mr Ojwang came to his office with the Chinese and MTRH officials sometime last year, but said he refused their proposal.
“Do you want to spend that kind of money on repairs? Sh17 billion in my mind can built a whole new referral hospital complete with theatres, with teachings, with lecture halls…why would you want to spend that kind of money in a congested place?”
But why didn’t Ruto push for the prosecution of those trying to fleece Kenyans?
In response, the Deputy President argued he initiated a Cabinet process to approve the purchase of land from Kenya prisons for a new hospital.
“The good side of it really is that nothing bad had happened. These were just fishermen trying to look for deals,” he said.
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