William Ruto’s profile and manifesto for presidency
William Samoei Ruto is considered to be the de facto leader of the Kalenjin community in Kenya with a huge following from the tribe. He attracts massive support from other parts of the country as well for his presidential ambition which he is nurturing through his party, United Republican Party.
In the 10th parliament, he is still recognized as a member of the Orange Democratic Movement, a party he abandoned after falling out with its leader Raila Odinga.
Ruto’s political career is rocked by controversy and speculation with many holding strong views as to the source of the mighty financial muscle he wields. Strong evidence links his wealth back to 1992 when he was appointed the Organizing Secretary of Youth for Kanu ’92 (YK92), the same time his popularity shot through the rooftops.
YK92 was a youth wing of former president Daniel Moi’s re-election machinery that was heavily funded by the KANU government to criss- cross the country to drum up support for Moi in the first ever multiparty elections of the decade.
Ruto, who was born in 1966, joined Parliament in 1997 as the member for Eldoret North, under a KANU ticket. Subsequently, he was made Assistant Minister in the Office of the president and in late 2002 became the minister of Home affairs. After KANU was ousted from power later that year, Ruto was relegated to the backbench for the next five years.
He formally ditched KANU in 2007 to join the ODM campaign for the party’s flag bearer Raila Odinga. Due to his excellent oratory skills and massive following in the Rift Valley Province, he became part of a team that delivered massive support for Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) during the 2007 elections.
As circumstances would have it, the elections were botched giving rise to a grand coalition government made up of ODM and Party of National Unity (PNU). Ruto was made Minister of Agriculture and Later Minister of Higher Education under this arrangement.
A corruption case in which Ruto and Berke Commercial Ltd are charged with obtaining Sh96 million from the Kenya Pipeline Company’s Finance Manager Hellen Njue by false pretense later hounded him out of office.
Ruto is also remembered for his foray on the new constitution in 2010 during the referendum when he led a group of politicians to mobilize the electorate to shoot it down. His ‘NO’ campaign was however decisively defeated as the majority voters gave the document a nod of approval. The new constitution was propped on the premise of reform and change but Ruto dismissed it as oppressive and elitist.
William Ruto would rue the period between 2007 and 2012 as the worst stint of his political career so far following his involvement with crimes against humanity committed during the violence of 2007/2008 post election period. He has been accused of several gross crimes by the International Criminal Court at The Hague, Netherlands together with three other individuals.
According to the ICC official website, Mr Ruto is accused of being criminally responsible as an indirect co-perpetrator pursuant to article 25(3)(a) of the Rome Statute for the crimes against humanity of:
- murder (article 7(l)(a));
- deportation or forcible transfer of population (article 7(l)(d)); and
- persecution (article 7(l)(h)).
Ruto has pleaded innocent and attracted sympathy from a section of the electorate who hold that he was unfairly victimized. Ironically, like the case of a hunter becoming the hunted, Ruto was part of a team that set up the Waki Commission of Inquiry into the post election violence whose investigations pointed culpability in his direction.
After being named, he agitated for his case to be tried at the Hague but later on when the heat proved too much, he blamed his political opponents for plotting his trials at the same court. He passionately called for the release of arrested Youth accused of committing crimes during the violence that rocked the country in 2008 .
During his stint as Minister of Agriculture 2008-2010, his ministry was ranked among the best performing ministries in the country. His record was however tainted by a maize scandal in 2010 when he was accused of issuing maize to individuals at subsidized prices from the National Grain Reserves at a time when there was a huge shortage of the commodity.
At 45, Ruto is among the youngest presidential contenders in Kenya today using URP, a party he founded on 12th January 2012. His campaign platform is based on Family values, all round security, Education, areas of untapped comparatives and infrastructure.
His party’s policy on untapped comparatives involves a plan to increase tourism numbers to Kenya from 1.5 million to 10 million in five years thereby creating employment and generating government revenue. It also includes plans to triple remittances from abroad from Ksh.80 billion by outsourcing the country’s highly skilled human resource.
In addition, his new policy on sports will professionalize and commercialize sports by heavily investing in the sector. He also plans to introduce sports science in Kenya’s universities and colleges.
His presidential candidature has been well received in various parts of the country, especially in Rift Valley province. There have been talks about forming alliances with other presidential aspirants but Ruto insists he is going it all the way to the ballot. He encountered a major challenge at some point in his campaign for the presidency when he attempted to revive a tribal outfit named Kamatusa to lead his political agenda but has since distanced himself from it after a public uproar.
William Samoei Ruto has made a name for himself in Kenyan politics and is a key component of the jigsaw that characterizes it. He is an avid debater in parliament, going by the few times he has participated in house debates. He is articulate in English, Kiswahili and Kalenjin. However, the results of the 2013 general elections will give him his mark for how articulate he is on persuasion.