Ruto: Why I’ve been missing during Pres. Kenyatta’s addresses to the nation

By , K24 Digital
On Thu, 9 Apr, 2020 13:07 | 3 mins read
Ruto said the need to let Uhuru take charge of the government’s anti-coronavirus agenda prompted his absence during the president's addresses. [PHOTO | FILE]
Deputy President William Ruto. [PHOTO | FILE]
Ruto said the need to let Uhuru take charge of the government’s anti-coronavirus agenda prompted his absence during the president's addresses. [PHOTO | FILE]

Deputy President William Ruto has revealed that the need to observe social distancing guidelines and to allow President Uhuru Kenyatta take charge of the government’s anti-coronavirus agenda, prompted his lack of physical presence during the Head of State’s recent addresses to the nation.

President Kenyatta’s recent addresses that DP Ruto did not attend:

  • March 23: The President announced the approval of rollout of faster internet across the country to aid the economy as it felt the impact of coronavirus.
  • March 25: The Head of State ordered a national curfew starting Friday, March 27, 2020.
  • April 6: The president imposed a three-week ban on movement into and out of four counties hardest hit by coronavirus. The counties include: Nairobi, Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale.

The DP made the remarks when he addressed journalists at his Karen home on Thursday, March 9. The agenda of the briefing was updating Kenyans on the government’s preparedness and commitment to the fight against the spread of COVID-19.

Responding to a question by NTV journalist Vincent Oduor on why he (Ruto) hasn’t been spotted with President Kenyatta when the Head of State addressed the nation in at least three previous occasions, Ruto said: “The operations of the Government is a preserve of the people in Government. How we decide to communicate [is our decision to make].”

“However, we [in government] took a decision that this [coronavirus outbreak] being a national pandemic, all of us are going to read from one script; the president is going to take the lead, and the [cabinet] ministers responsible in those dockets [which are tackling the contagion], will do their jobs.

“You may want to know that in regard to matters operations in government, we have made teleconferencing and videoconferencing a significant part of our daily communication. This, helps facilitate social-distancing and avoid the necessity of being physically present in meetings,” said the deputy president.

Ruto said some of the meetings that Cabinet members have successfully conducted over video-call technology include inter-ministerial consultations.

The DP further revealed that his lack of physical presence when President Kenyatta addressed the country in three previous occasions was necessitated by protocol demands.

“You may also want to ask yourself why the president and his deputy may not travel in the same equipment at the same time,” said Ruto.

The DP, however, allayed speculations of a rift between him and his boss, which, a section of Kenyans online argued was the reason the DP “skipped” the president’s briefings.

“For the record, we consult regularly, almost daily with the president and all the other [cabinet] ministers carrying out various tasks in the management of this pandemic.”

In his written speech, the deputy president described coronavirus crisis as a “situation that is wholly unprecedented in our time”.

Ruto said Kenyans’ hygiene discipline will significantly help curb the spread of the bug, which “does not need the army and fighter jets to combat”.

“Defeating the spread of coronavirus takes basic measures such as washing or sanitising our hands regularly,” he said, adding: “The virus cannot move or transfer itself. Curtailing our [physical] movement will completely immobilise this enemy and stop its spread.”

The DP also expressed concern over the economic setback wrought by the outbreak of the disease, urging employers to adopt a shift system that will help reduce congestion in workplaces.

“Unless it is necessary for one to go to work, people should be allowed to work from home,” he said.

“As a government, we appreciate the millions of Kenyans complying with the protocols issued and updated by the Ministry of Health,” added Ruto.

The DP listed some of the measures the government has taken to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

These measures include: equipping hospitals with facilities to help in treatment and management of coronavirus patients, setting aside boarding schools as isolation centres, PSC embarking on hiring of new medical personnel, the government working closely with the WHO to get approval for the rollout of the rapid diagnostic kits, KEBS outlining standards for the manufacturing of personal protective equipment (PPEs), scaling up oxygen supply to at least 90 hospitals across Kenya, providing health workers with PPEs, realigning the national budget so that more funds are made available to the coronavirus-response kitty, among other initiatives.

The DP also urged employers to make adjustments to their spending, including reducing, or totally doing away with “non-core” expenses. “This, will help save jobs,” said Ruto

“The farmers should also take advantage of the good rains [that Kenya is experiencing currently] to grow as much food as possible,” advised the DP.

Kenya, as of Wednesday, April 8, had registered 179 cases of coronavirus, with 15 recorded as closed (nine recoveries and six deaths).