Leading Western powers led by United States and Britain have joined forces with those pushing for the derailment of his presidential bid to succeed outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The Deputy President always tells his story about how he came from rags to riches and often describes himself as a self-made businessperson. He gained popularity by playing the card of his humble and religious background.
His indictment at the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity made him even more popular.
Ruto became Uhuru Kenyatta’s running mate prior to the 2013 general elections and would go on to become the deputy president after the controversial Supreme Court ruling in the 2013 presidential elections. He also harbors presidential aspirations in the country’s 2022 elections.
William Ruto is not new to politics. He is one of the founding members of the defunct Youth for KANU (YK’92) and perhaps the most prominent of all. He won his first parliamentary seat for Eldoret North in 1997 and rose through the ranks to the position of deputy president.
Yet, in his desire to be president, he has a trail of ghosts and skeletons in his closet. These ghosts and skeletons make him unfit to serve as the president. His name appears in many scandals over the years. People also widely claim that he is corrupt and that he earned his wealth through dubious means.
Perhaps the most prominent skeleton in his closet is the ICC case. The ICC refused to acquit him of any wrongdoing and termed the cases a ‘mistrial’. This was due to extensive witness interference and lack of state compliance with the court.
THE MAIZE SCANDAL IN THE GRAND COALITION GOVERNMENT
The scandal broke out in 2009. At the time, William Ruto was the Minister for Agriculture in the Grand Coalition government.
PricewaterhouseCoopers carried out an audit which showed that Ruto used his personal assistant to write a letter asking that National Cereals and Produce Board allocates an individual 1,000 bags,
Ruto survived an impeachment motion after the Speaker rejected documents presented before parliament linking him to the maize scandal. Ruto blamed his political opponents for linking him to the scandal.
The scandal has made Ruto its constant face in political satire, such as in the XYZee show.
In an interesting twist, WikiLeaks claims that former Prime Minister Raila Odinga was the mastermind of the scandal. It says he attempted to suspend William Ruto as Agriculture Minister to divert attention from his family’s involvement in the KES 2 billion maize fraud.
HUSTLER’ JET SCANDAL
This scandal took place in May 2013, a month after the Jubilee Government took power.
Deputy President William Ruto allegedly hired a private jet for KES 100 million for his ‘shuttled diplomacy’ in West Africa. The trip was to lobby West African countries to support their cause at the International Criminal Court.
The trip cost taxpayers Sh21 million for transport and accommodation. This amount excludes allowances paid to the 14 people who accompanied William Ruto.
The Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) investigated the scandal. It said Jubilee Government officials breached procurement regulations and procedures in the process of hiring the aircraft.
In its report, PAC also criticized the President for giving verbal rather than written directives to his deputy.
The President instructed the Deputy President to undertake the tour verbally, contrary to Article 135 of the Constitution, which requires the President to convey his decision on the performance of his functions in writing. (PAC report)
However, PAC absolved Ruto of any wrongdoing. It recommended several officials in his office to face prosecution. However, parliament later threw out this report and no one took responsibility.
LANG’ATA PRIMARY SCHOOL LAND GRAB
William Ruto’s name featured prominently in the scandal. Some ‘faceless’ developers tried to grab the Lang’ata Primary School playground in 2015. He initially denied owning the Weston Hotel, which attempted to convert the playground to a parking lot.
In response to the attempt, irate pupils led by a group of activists demonstrated against the land grab. They attempted to bring down a perimeter wall built around the playground.
The children carried placards proclaiming ‘Land grabbing is terror against children’
The police responded ruthlessly and tear-gassed innocent schoolchildren. The aftermath was public outcry locally and around the world on how the police handled the protest.
Kibra MP Ken Okoth said people took at least 10 children to the hospital with injuries. The injuries included tear gas exposure to their eyes.
THE KENYA PIPELINE LAND SCAM
William Ruto and four other persons faced fraud charges in court. The charges involved the alleged sale of a piece of land in Ngong forest to Kenya Pipeline Company Ltd for Sh272 million. The accusers argued that Ruto and his cohorts acquired and sold the land illegally.
Back then, I was a member of the backbench in Parliament when we raised issues of integrity against Ruto, as he was facing a fraud case regarding Ngong Forest land. He had taken cash from Kenya Pipeline in exchange for that land (sic).Martha Karua
As a minister, Ruto allegedly received KES 96 million at various intervals during the alleged transaction. The charges led to Kibaki and Raila to suspend him from the cabinet in 2011. However, the court later acquitted him and his cohorts after a key witness failed to testify.
MOI TEACHING AND REFERRAL HOSPITAL (MTRH) SCANDAL
A Nairobi businessperson linked Ruto to a controversial KES 28 billion deal. The businessperson, Hebert Ojwang’, said the deal was to put up a new referral hospital in Eldoret. The businessperson claimed that he came up with an idea to upgrade the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital. However, he alleged that Ruto gave instructions to build a new hospital at a new site instead.
Hebert Ojwang’ appeared before the Public Investments Committee (PIC) to provide information on the scandal. He said Ruto was behind the push to abandon the refurbishment of the facility for a completely new hospital. The new hospital would cost an additional KES 11 billion from the initial cost of refurbishing MTRH at KES 17 billion. Ojwang said the deal would fleece the taxpayer.
How the management came up with KES 28 billion to relocate the facility remains a mystery. It is clear the additional KES 11 billion is purposely done to end up in the pockets of a few individuals (sic).Hebert Ojwang
Ojwang produced an audio tape of a meeting held allegedly at Ruto’s Karen home. The audio file alleged that Ruto gave instructions that the project speeds up for completion by the end of that financial year.
America’s concern has something to do with the DP’s links with China’s influence in the country and his alleged association with corruption and money laundering.
During the 2017 elections, Jubilee party entered into a deal with Communist Party of China. Ruto and his allies have been linked to brokerage of multibillion tenders by Chinese firms in Kenya, cutting across road constructions, energy, railway and mining.
Likewise, the West fears that the DP, whom they are describing as a populist, will allow the invasion of farms owned by their companies, particularly in Rift Valley and Central Kenya, just like the way Mugabe did in Zimbabwe. Kenyans who have long suffered in their own country after their ancestors’ lands were taken away by the whites at gunpoint however long for the day when the soil will be back in their hands.
In fact, none other than Raila in the last campaigns told Kenyans that he was going to subdivide the huge tracts of land the foreigners lead a paradise-like life in and give them back to Africans. Raila speaking in Dandora said he would start with the huge Kenyatta family land in Ruiru where he said it is inhumane for Kikuyu peasants to stand on top of each other for lack of land as the Kenyattas’ land hosted wild animals.
Talk in Western capitals is that the DP is behind the threats by members of the Kipsigis community and the Talai clan in Kericho county to sue the British government for atrocities they they faced during the colonial era.
The county government has already completed collecting and analysing evidence of torture incidences in preparation for the filing of a lawsuit against the British, at a London High Court.
Equally, the West suspects that Ruto is behind the Nandi county administration’s threat to sue the British government for historical land injustices meted out on the community during the colonial era.
Already, there is talk in Western capitals that Ruto will turn out to be another Robert Mugabe if he wins the presidency in 2022.
Mugabe, who ruled Zimbabwe till he was ousted by the country’s armed forces, irked the Western world when he ordered the popular invasion of white-owned farms by the locals, citing historical injustices.
It is now clear that Washington is for the Uhuru-Raila Odinga handshake and for status quo in a country that is strategic for the US and UK