Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto Have Revived Political Patronage in Kenya
In December 2015, William Ruto met some Opposition politicians with promises for jobs and ‘development projects’ if they joined the newly formed Jubilee Party. It was reported on theweeklycitizen.co.ke that the Luhya MPs who met Ruto at his Sugoi home were paid Ksh100 000 each, while their Kalenjin counterparts were paid Ksh1 million each. “According to Savula, the Luhya MPs were bought on the cheap considering that their Kalenjin counterparts on an earlier visit to Sugoi pocketed Sh1 million each as fare.”
Why should MPs take money from Ruto yet they are patrons of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), which directly empowers them to provide their constituents with development projects? Ruto’s loud-mouthed Kalenjin MPs have made it clear that the Jubilee Party has been formed to guarantee his position as president in 2022. It is therefore not a uniting platform for Kenyans as Ruto purports, but a gravy train for him and cronies to continue “eating” public resources. The new Constitution has accorded Kenyans the County government system with devolved funding from the national government. Hence, it is pointless for Uhuru and Ruto to run around buying the loyalty of County politicians in exchange for development projects. Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho, recently castigated Uhuru in public for not meeting him during the first 16 days he had been at the Coast region for Christmas holidays. The region is a stronghold of CORD and despite continuous denials by the Jubilee government, Uhuru went there to entice voters with various projects.
Joho mentioned that the era of “Mtukufu Rais” (His Excellency the President) was over and therefore Uhuru should not expect to be worshipped. Former President Kibaki erased the Your/His Excellency tag that has bounced back during this regime of UhuRuto. In many African cultures, one shakes the hand of an elder by using both hands. Ironically, elderly people are subjected to greet Uhuru and Ruto in a similar manner, depicting fear, instead of respect. This is how far the two clowns carry around their egos. They want to be worshipped, not respected. That is why the motormouth Nairobi Senator Mike Mbuvi alias Sonko, shouted back at Joho to ‘respect’ Uhuru. The spat reflected the nature of Uhuru’s leadership, which is forceful and intolerant.
When some local politicians at the Coast region pleaded with Uhuru to waive the Ksh182 000 fees required for each of the squatters who had received lease certificates for plots at the controversial Waitiki Farm in Likoni, Uhuru told them bluntly that they must pay, since they did not vote for him. How can Uhuru be a uniting leader of the Kenyan nation when three years into his presidency, he is still bitter that some people did not vote for him? Many of the squatters at the Coast were born there and can trace their ancestral roots, yet were disenfranchised from land ownership by Uhuru’s father, Jomo Kenyatta, and his cronies. The Kikuyu have no ancestral ties with the Coast of Kenya, yet their communities are well-established there (at Shimba Hills, Lake Kenyatta and Mpeketoni in Lamu, Kwale, Likoni, Kilifi, Bamburi in North Coast, and in Taita Taveta), courtesy of Jomo Kenyatta’s insatiable appetite for land grabbing. Further, Kenyatta and his Kiambu Mafia grabbed a lot of land in the traditional Kikuyu areas in the former Central Province, forcing many to migrate to other non-Kikuyu areas. As a result, many of them have suffered both human and material losses due to land clashes, especially among the Kalenjin in the Rift Valley.
It is ridiculous that Uhuru could demand that those poor, non-Jubilee squatters in Likoni pay for the plots simply because they did not vote for him. Records of land grabbing by the Kenyatta family exist in the original report by the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) published in 2013. However, Uhuru’s Jubilee MPs repealed the 2008 TJRC Act to protect him. If he is man enough and is honest about redressing past land injustices attributed to his family, then he should implement the Report’s recommendations, which include returning illegally acquired large tracts of land to the rightful owners.
Patronage is characterized by boxing people into political zones as depicted by the elderly Likoni ODM MP Mwalimu Masoud Mwahima, who recently shouted that the Coast region is not an ODM zone, when Kenyatta attended a public meeting in Likoni. Dictator Moi’s regime had branded regions as KANU and Opposition zones to determine who could receive funding for development projects. Mwahima is old-school, having served as a KANU councilor and Likoni KANU chairman in 1997. Interestingly, a few days earlier, he had been photographed at the gate of State House Mombasa carrying a thick brown envelope after visiting Uhuru Kenyatta. Many observers were certain that he had been given some money to buy his loyalty, though he denied it.
The situation is not different for the Kikuyu in Rift Valley who were evicted from their pieces of land by the Kalenjin, during the 2007/8 post-election violence (PEV). They are still the wretched of the earth, living in tattered tents, under a Kikuyu presidency. On January 13, 2016, an elderly Kikuyu woman who was part of a group so-called the ‘Integrated Displaced Persons’ (IDPs) was knocked down by a truck while marching to State House in Nairobi, to meet Uhuru Kenyatta to complain that he had neglected them. Interestingly, Baringo South MP Grace Kipchiom claimed that the Opposition had incited the IDPs to protest against the Jubilee government. The Nation newspaper reported that: “Mrs Kipchoim alleged that the “integrated IDPs” had been paid by the Opposition to demonstrate so as to show the ICC that they had not been resettled by the Jubilee administration.” The Opposition has got no say in the resettlement of displaced persons. Clearly, Uhuru’s government, just like Jomo’s, has no mercy for the poor Kikuyu.
Jubilee’s version of transformation
Jubilee sycophants need to wake up and stop hero-worshipping Uhuru and Ruto. They should instead question the quality of services they have offered since 2013. A while ago, Jubilee Majority Leader Aden Duale wrote in a local newspaper that they have given Kenyans access to rural electrification and are building the standard gauge railway (SGR). Nevertheless, is it not the national government’s duty to provide infrastructure countrywide? This is not a favor but a right for Kenyans. Kibaki revived many projects that stalled during dictator Moi’s rule and also initiated other new ones that Jubilee is merely implementing. According to poverty-action.org, “since 2006, Kenya’s Rural Electrification Authority (REA) has rapidly expanded the national grid, installing electricity distribution lines and transformers across many of the country’s rural areas”
Former Devolution and Planning Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru also recently wrote in a local newspaper that the Jubilee government is transformative. Her docket led the now infamous cleaning of Kibera slums project, using the National Youth Service (NYS) that recruited youths to build toilets, unclog drainages, clear out garbage, etc. Waiguru’s Ministry paid the youth a total sum of Ksh164 million per week for the manual work when the project had expanded across the country. One would question why the national government engaged in the unsustainable project, yet the universal way to assist the youth is to offer them training so as to acquire skills for self-employment/entrepreneurship.
Waiguru had earlier worked at the World Bank and knows that armed with the right skills, the youth have more prospects for livelihood pathways. Her children attend expensive schools and do not dig trenches because she understands the meaning of education. Some of the youth in the NYS project were university graduates. What happened to their deducted savings that were supposed to transform their lives? What about the fake promises for free wireless Internet access and subsidized maize milling businesses in Kibera? Waiguru is now remembered for the Ksh791 million theft at NYS and not the slum toilets built on her watch. Last year, two female suppliers contracted by her former Ministry were caught with a total of Ksh130 million in their homes when the anti-corruption officers raided them. Talk about milking dry the already emaciated public coffers. Last September, some youths took to the streets of Nairobi demanding payments they had not received after eight months. If the cleaning project was Waiguru’s way of transforming the penurious situation of the Kenyan youth, then Jubilee has failed.
Establishing food security would have been a significant achievement for Jubilee. But as usual, whatever they touch mostly turns into dust, not gold. In 2014, Uhuru launched the 10,000-acre pilot farm as part of the Ksh400 billion Galana-Kulalu Irrigation Scheme in Tana- River County, expected to eventually cover one million acres of land for maize, horticulture, dairy and beef production. When maize was planted on 500 acres in early 2015, the yield was projected at 40 bags of 90kg per acre. Instead, only 10 bags were harvested per acre. Interestingly, the concerned government officials claimed 16 varieties of maize had been planted so that they could choose the best yield. Knowing their failure was possibly due to mismanaging part of the project’s money, thus the poor results, they lied that it had been an experiment and would do better in the next phase. An earlier feasibility study to decide the right seed had cost the government a whopping Ksh1 billion. The truth is, many Kenyans sleep hungry during the current leadership of Uhuru and Ruto, who live luxuriously and misuse public money. For instance, though Ruto has a private case to answer at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, by virtue of his position in Government, it is the hungry taxpayers who foot all his legal fees.
Management Consultant Naomi Cidi published an article in the STAR newspaper on 9th January 2015, titled: ‘The Injustices of White Elephant Projects: The Galana-Kulalu Ranch’ which suggested that, the lack of political influence from leaders in certain areas had contributed to the collapse of many public institutions, such as the coffee sector and the Kenya Meat Commission, among others, during Moi’s presidency. “When you see the institutions required for the economic empowerment of a region collapse while in other parts of the very same country new institutions are being created and old institutions are thriving, then you know you have been marginalised indeed.” For Cidi, “the giant Galana-Kulalu Ranch Irrigation Project of Tana River County, far from being a benefit conferred on the region by the national government is actually just one more proof of the tragic marginalisation of the Coast region.”
To the CORD MPs and others who think that the yet to be registered Jubilee Party has got something better to offer, the question is, why would Uhuru and Ruto be creating a new political party yet in their third year, they have barely fulfilled most of their 2013 election promises? If they have not made Kenya food secure or even improved the living standards of many Kenyans who wallow in abject poverty, what magic wand will they wave to transform Kenya before 2017 to justify re-election? It is claimed they have set aside Ksh500 million to woo non-Jubilee followers to join their new party, planned to be launched in March 2016. Imagine how many lives can be transformed if that money is invested to enhance the Kenyan human capital.