Seth Onyango @SethManex
Deputy President William Ruto’s past utterances regarding the Kimwarer and Arror dams scandal have come back to haunt him following the arrest of Treasury Cabinet secretary Henry Rotich.
In February, Ruto contradicted investigative agencies, asserting that no cash had been misappropriated or lost in the multi-billion-shilling projects.
He defended the initiative, arguing that contrary to media reports that Sh21 billion was lost in the dams’ projects in Elgeyo Marakwet county, only Sh7 billion was in question.
“You have heard that the government has lost Sh21 billion in Kimwarer and Arror dams which is a flat lie. The money in question is about Sh7 billion and for every coin that has been paid, we have a bank guarantee,” he said.
But the arrest and arraignment of Rotich, his Principal Secretary Kamau Thugge and other top ministry officials left him with egg on the face, seen as someone who defended blatant graft.
Rotich and his alleged accomplices were charged yesterday with multiple counts, including abuse of office, financial misconduct and conspiracy to commit an economic crime.
And according to observers, the ripple effects from the unfolding events at the National Treasury could have a far reaching implications on DP’s political fortunes.
Yesterday, their predicament had begun to swirl around Ruto even as his political nemeses were quick to exploit political dividends from the saga calling on him to step aside.
Ruto’s kryptonite would be his dismissal of the scandal as a flat lie in late February.
His contentions about the alleged corruption had put him on a collision course with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
He accused the media, which had publicised the probe, of attempting to make a mountain out of a molehill.
Interestingly, however, DCI insisted that it was probing loss of Sh21 billion.
Tellingly, the National Treasury also confirmed that it indeed allocated Sh21 billion to the’ project and hence the reason Rotich had been asked to record a statement.
Nonetheless, Ruto assured that no public funds had been lost or will be lost in the alleged scandal.
“No money will be lost because we are a responsible government, we have engaged every arm of government to make sure that public resources are safe and therefore the correct info must be used as we target the fight against corruption so that we can nail the true culprits,” he assured then.
Politically, Rotich’s arrest is expected to send shockwaves in Ruto’s camp and entrench a peddled narrative that his side is corrupt.
It may also send panic, especially among his allies in Rift Valley and Mount Kenya, who may beat a retreat to avoid being caught up in the melee.
This could demobilise Ruto’s political machinery for his 2022 presidential election which had begun to gather momentum owing to his aggressive charm offensive across the country.
As the drama unfolded the DP put on a brave face as he lined up to welcome the Botswana Mokgweetsi Masisi at State House.
Ruto, appeared unmoved with the unfolding developments regarding the’ saga.
Asked if Rotich’s arrest was part of a bigger ploy to demobilise Ruto, his Communication Secretary David Mugonyi told People Daily the writing was on the wall.
“Read the charges it will answer your question,” he said.
During an interview on K24 on Sunday, Ruto accused his rivals of engaging in a smear campaign to taint his name, using a barrage of corruption allegations as a tool.
“That corruption narrative is a convenient narrative, because they have looked around and they can’t find…they can’t say William Ruto is incompetent, they can’t say Ruto doesn’t have passion, doesn’t have ideas, is not focused, they say anything that will persuade anybody,” he said.