What you need to know:
- Though he has been the Deputy President since 2013, Dr Ruto has lately been playing a peripheral role in government after his falling-out with the President.
Kenya's Deputy President William Ruto has vowed to form a judicial team to investigate actions and policies of President Uhuru Kenyatta if he wins the August 9 election in what has elicited sharp reactions from Jubilee. Mr Ruto is also gearing up to reverse a number of Mr Kenyatta’s policies if elected, even indicating that they will not fear going after the President once he leaves office.
In the Kenya Kwanza manifesto that was launched on Thursday night, Mr Ruto said if Kenya Kwanza wins next month, they will form an inquiry into state capture and a tribunal on enforced disappearances and violation of human rights. Both could potentially mean going after the President and how he ran the government. He also vowed to create eight tribunals, taskforces and review panels to reverse Mr Kenyatta’s policies.
Under the ‘Ending State Capture’ sub-topic, Mr Ruto promises to establish, “within 30 days, a quasi-judicial public inquiry to establish the extent of cronyism and state capture in the nation and make recommendations”.
Though he has been the Deputy President since 2013, Dr Ruto has lately been playing a peripheral role in government after his falling-out with the President. He has accused the Jubilee government of being beholden to the people he calls cartels, fraudsters and economic saboteurs, and whom he blames for the rising cost of living.
“We have known for at least four decades that our economic model is fatally flawed. The question is why we have stayed on this path, why the government did not heed its own clarion call to restructure the economy, why we would choose to manufacture guns rather than garments. The answer is convergence of political and economic power,” the Kenya Kwanza manifesto states.
Yesterday, Dr Ruto’s allies expounded on the proposals and accused the President of using state policies to his favour, which the commission will investigate if they win power.
“State capture has strangled our economy. The problem is that the President and his allies have over the last 10 years made policies and decisions to benefit his enterprise. Just like the Guptas in South Africa, everything has been choreographed to benefit the private businesses of those in power,” says Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro.
According to Mr Nyoro, key sectors of the economy are currently being controlled by a few powerful families, hence the reason for the proposals of an inquiry under the Kenya Kwanza administration. “The kind of greed we have witnessed in the last seven years is unprecedented. It has dwarfed the stealing of Mau Mau land after Independence.”
Like Mr Nyoro, Mr Irungu Kang’ata, who is eyeing the Murang’a governor seat in the August election, welcomed the creation of such an inquiry, terming it necessary. “Certain families dominate key sectors. The energy sector is in the hands of a few. The extent of capture needs a study, hence the proposal. State capture retards development. It establishes negative linkages between politics and economy. This has nothing to do with Uhuru. It has everything to do with Kenyans’ wellbeing,” said the senator.
But allies of the President and Azimio politicians warned the Deputy President against making such proposals that could destabilise the country.
Jubilee Party secretary general Jeremiah Kioni described the proposal as “a clear statement of intention to overthrow the current Constitution”.
“This is already a clear indication of how dangerous a Ruto government could be for this country. They are on a vindictive agenda. Since they have been talking about witch-hunt that is now a clear case of witch-hunt that has been provided for in the manifesto,” said Mr Kioni.
“We want people who have stolen public funds to be dealt with. But we do not want to start creating other institutions that may be targeting specific people.”
Mr Ruto and his allies have also used the ‘dynasties versus hustlers’ narrative to show that a few families have controlled the political and economic leadership of the country since Independence at the expense of tens of millions of Kenyans.
“The Ndegwa Commission report of 1971 went on to make the infamous recommendation that legitimised conflict of interest, thus laying the foundation for the concentration of both economic and political power in the same few hands, prompting the late J.M Kariuki to warn of a nation of 10 millionaires and 10 million beggars, the corruption syndrome that is now universally recognised as state capture,” Kenya Kwanza says in the manifesto.
Expectedly, Mr Kenyatta’s administration would be the focus of such an inquiry that could be similar to South Africa’s Commission of Inquiry into allegations of state capture (the Zondo Commission). Political analyst Prof Gitile Naituli and lawyer Bobby Mkangi said that even though the proposal is good, it should follow the law and be protected from the same people who may be investigated.
“It is good to do that, but when you look at the overall manifesto, they have not told us how they will deal with corruption. They are saying they will investigate state capture. That is fine. Then what do they do with it? You cannot make proposals on hundreds of billions of public money without first addressing the question of corruption, unsustainable debt and impunity,” said Prof Naituli.
For Mr Mkangi, there should be “safety valves” to protect such a venture from also being captured.
Besides the state capture inquiry, Mr Ruto has also proposed the creation of a special tribunal for gross human rights violations and enforced disappearances (including in northern Kenya).
The plan will also be aimed at “ending all forms of extra-judicial executions by security services, and amend the National Coroners Service Act, 2017, to establish the Coroner General’s Office.”
At the same time, Kenya Kwanza is promising to ratify and domesticate the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances.
President Kenyatta’s administration has been accused of numerous cases of enforced disappearances, which have been blamed on security forces. Haki Africa, a local human rights organisation, early this year disclosed that 63 people disappeared in 2021, compared to 18 in 2020. A special tribunal, like the one proposed by Dr Ruto in his manifesto, will also be aiming at revealing some dirt on the security agencies under Mr Kenyatta.
In the manifesto launched on Thursday, Dr Ruto is proposing up to eight tribunals, taskforces and review panels that will aim at reversing some of President Kenyatta’s legacy. The DP is also proposing an inquiry into consumer protection.
“In the immediate, Kenya Kwanza commits to instituting an independent inquiry to review all the matters currently being litigated by consumers with a view to arriving at a quick and satisfactory resolution that can also inform the necessary reforms,” the manifesto states.
A taskforce is also planned for the sports sector, specifically on financing. The DP says a Kenya Kwanza government will “establish a high-level expert task force to identify sustainable sources of sports funding”.
He is also promising to look into the issues around devolution of health services “to find a solution within the first 100 days of our administration”, to review the current exam-based system of academic progression, which has excluded millions of learners based on basic education level exit exams, by implementing alternative entry criteria.
He further plans to commission a review of remuneration and terms of service for all officers in the security sector.
Kenya Kwanza also says they will establish a diaspora forum, “which will review progress of national government services to the diaspora and make the necessary recommendations”.
According to Mr Kioni, the DP’s plan for numerous taskforces, tribunals and inquiries sounds like going back to the Kanu regime, which was setting up commissions on every conceivable thing.
“We have gone beyond that and we have institutions that are working. If you get to State House you should only require the institutions to do what is expected of them,” said Mr Kioni.
*Via Nation Africa