stealing thunder

Kenya: Ruto under fire over taking credit for Uhuru’s projects

By Victor Abuso

Posted on August 10, 2023 09:14

Outgoing Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta shaking hands with President William Ruto at Ruto’s inauguration. (AFP/Tony Karumba)
Outgoing Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta shaking hands with President William Ruto at Ruto’s inauguration. (AFP/Tony Karumba)

President Ruto’s five-day tour in Mount Kenya seen by Azimio la Umoja as an attempt to appease hungry, angry Kenyans after imposing new taxes.

Opponents of President William Ruto from the vote-rich Mount Kenya region are slamming him for using his five-day tour in the region to relaunch old projects that had already been initiated and commissioned by his predecessor, Uhuru Kenyatta.

Led by Azimio la Umoja deputy head Martha Karua and former Laikipia governor Ndiritu Muriithi, the opposition coalition accuses Ruto’s administration of lying to the people and not initiating any new development projects in the region, almost one year after becoming president.

Picking up pieces

“Ruto’s tour was to try to redeem his image. He has failed Kenyans,” says Muriithi, adding that the Kenya Kwanza leader has lost touch with the ordinary citizens whose lives he promised to change.

“This regime is yet to complete any of their own projects,” he tells The Africa Report. He criticises Ruto for introducing new taxes that have overburdened Kenyans while trying to appease them with old projects.

Ruto recently launched a milk-production firm, Kenya Co-operative Creameries in Kiganjo, a project that his opponents say had been completed by Uhuru two years ago. Others include water and road projects that had already been handed over to the public by the previous administration.

He should say that he is touring government projects not launching them

The president has dismissed the allegations, saying he played a key role in the planning and launching of the now-completed projects while he was deputy president. The region is considered his political hotspot and is home to Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua.

Projects for the people

“These are not Uhuru’s or Ruto’s projects. They belong to the people of Kenya,” Ruto responded to the accusations during an interview with local media on Tuesday, adding that he will continue to tour the country to launch more projects.

Ruto said he visited the Mount Kenya region to thank voters for supporting his presidential bid during last year’s disputed general election.

“Ruto should be truthful to Kenyans. He should say that he is touring government projects not launching them,” political analyst Wycliffe Odera tells The Africa Report.

Odera said would have been impossible for Ruto’s administration to accomplish any major development project in the short period he has been in office.

“Ruto is trying to gain trust with projects he didn’t start,” says Odera, explaining that he is pressurised to be seen launching projects after realising that he is unpopular due to his tax reforms that are largely opposed by the majority of Kenyans.

No handshakes

In July, Ruto also spent five days touring the coastal region re-launching and inspecting projects that had been started by the previous government.

Ruto’s tours have been characterised by verbal attacks on his opponents, accusing them of refusing to accept their loss in the election.

Ruto says he will not allow the freshly launched political talks to lead to a coalition government with Azimio’s Raila Odinga.

“Let the opposition forget about any political handshake. They should wait for 2027,” he says, standing on his car, whenever he addresses public gatherings.

Raila also doesn’t want a handshake with Ruto.

“I will not shake hands that have blood on them,” Raila says, accusing Ruto of using the police to kill Azimio supporters during the anti-government protests against the high cost of living.

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