William Ruto always tells his story about how he came from rags to riches. He 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. He went on to become the deputy president after the controversial Supreme Court ruling in the 2013 presidential elections. He also has presidential aspirations in 2022.
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.
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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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
PIC directed the Auditor General to conduct a forensic audit on all the transactions surrounding the scandal. William Ruto, in his defence, said that he stopped the deal because those involved did not follow the laid down procedures.