Ruto’s First 100 Days in Office: Promises Kept and Broken

This week marks President William Ruto’s first hundred days since he was sworn in as Kenya’s fifth president, on September 13, 2022. After rather peaceful elections, followed by intrigues of dissenting Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) commissioners, rejection of the announced presidential results by Ruto’s contenders, and a court case that upheld his win, the president hit the ground running. His apparent industriousness got him on the front page of dailies as a “man on a mission” with a reported one hundred twenty-six meetings in sixty days.

Now, a little over three months later, as the country lulls into its usual humdrum marked by the usual dilemmas of inflation, economic recession, high cost of living – and even the unusual ones like climate change- eyes are trained on the promises Ruto made during campaigns with questions as to whether or not he is doing anything to deliver them. While President Ruto’s deputy, Rigathi Gachagua, has decried “inheriting a dilapidated” economy, this does not excuse them from scrutiny and judgment based on their apparent performance against their Kenya Kwanza coalition manifesto that may have been the wave they rode on to the presidency.

The ‘Bottom-up’ economic narrative was the greatest defining factor of Ruto and Kenya Kwanza’s campaigns. This model that appealed to the needs of the “hustlers” – the mama mboga and watu wa bodaboda – promised the lowly of the society among other things development in four key areas: manufacturing, affordable housing, healthcare, and food security. Africa Uncensored previously summarized these promises as contained in the Kenya Kwanza manifesto in the 35th edition of our Newsletter The Deep Dive.

The United States’ 32nd President  Franklin D. Roosevelt coined the ‘First 100 days’ concept when he took office in 1933. Since then various politicians have used it in their campaigns and the electorate used it as a means to gauge the progress of the new regime.

Piga Firimbi assessed whether or not president Ruto’s promises for the first hundred days in office have been delivered. Many of the first hundred days’ promises by Ruto were made during the launch of the Kenya Kwanza manifesto on June 30, 2022. We counted thirteen promises in his speech during the launch.

1. Appoint all judges nominated by the  Judicial  Service Commission to the court of appeal – within seven days in office

During his inauguration speech, president Ruto made good on his promise to appoint the judges nominated by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to the court of appeal. There had been a stalemate between the judiciary and executive in 2021 when Former President Uhuru Kenyatta declined to appoint six judges recommended for elevation to the court of appeal and high court by the JSC. Kenyatta pointed out that he had received adverse reports against the six from the National Intelligence Service (NIS) and other security agencies.

In contradiction to his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta, the appointment of the judges during his inauguration speech was among his first acts as president.

“To further demonstrate my commitment to the independence of the judiciary, this afternoon I will appoint the six judges already nominated for appointment to the court of appeal, which was done three years ago by the Judicial Service Commission. And tomorrow I shall preside over their swearing-in so that they can get on with the business of serving the people of Kenya” President William Ruto.

As promised, in the afternoon after his inauguration, Ruto signed executive orders at the State House appointing the six judges. As it stands, this is a promise made and delivered.

2. End all unauthorised evictions and property demolitions

Kenyans have over the years been treated to sorry sights of evictions and demolitions. During the launch of the Kenya Kwanza manifesto, Ruto cited cases of demolitions in Kariobangi and Korogocho terming them inhumane and unconstitutional.

“Kenya Kwanza will end all unauthorized evictions and property demolitions” President William Ruto

This, he said as he outlined some of his promises for the first hundred days in office but did not expressly make clear the timeframe for achieving this.

However, on December 13, 2022, the government issued an eviction notice to residents of Matopeni slums in Starehe Constituency.

“The residents have attempted to convene a meeting with the Kenya Urban Renewal officials to no success. The officials failed to show up to the meeting last week”, a report by Ghetto Radio states.

3. Diaspora issues

During the launch of the Kenya Kwanza manifesto, as in his inauguration speech, President Ruto acknowledged the role of the diaspora community in the Kenyan economy. As such, he made a number of pledges to the diaspora community.

“We have elevated our diaspora to the 48th County. The complaint has always been that the diaspora does not receive adequate attention and attention they deserve. The focus has been on remittances, while their fundamental rights as citizens have been neglected. To correct this oversight, I pledge to:
  1. Elevate diaspora issues at a ministry level.
  2. Strengthen diaspora services in all embassies.
  3. Work with parliament to set up a committee that will exclusively deal with diaspora issues.
  4. Set up a mechanism for public participation by Kenyans living in the Diaspora.
  5. Work closely with the IEBC to expand and enhance diaspora participation in elections.”

With regards to elevating the diaspora to a 48th County, Constitutional Lawyer Bobby Mkangi clarifies that it was a figurative speech on the president’s part.

“Definitely he cannot make it a 48th County territorialy as we have in the country. He meant it will be the 48th, metaphorically, unit of administration and attention” Bobby Mkangi.

According to Mr Mkangi, by renaming the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Ministry of Foreign and Diaspora Affairs, President Ruto’s regime made the first step in meeting this promise. Roseline Njogu was recently appointed the Principal Secretary for Diaspora Affairs.

4. Operationalize the Judiciary Fund – within the first day in office

Through his campaign trail, President Ruto asserted the importance of the independence of the Judiciary. He reiterated this commitment during the launch of the Kenya Kwanza manifesto.

“We believe the Judiciary should, must, be independent operationally, constitutionally and financially,” he said.

During his inauguration speech, he followed up on his commitment by vowing to respect the Judiciary in a bid to foster constitutional and democratic systems. He noted that the Judiciary Fund had been operationalized in a bid to uphold the independence of the Judiciary, something that he had promised to do on his first day in office.

“Our campaign for financial independence of the judiciary has paid off with the implementation of the Judiciary Fund on July 1 this year.” A statement on the Judiciary website confirms this.

Ruto also promised to scale up judiciary budgetary allocation by an additional Sh3 billion shillings annually for the next five years. The delivery of this promise remains to be seen in the next budget allocations for the financial year 2023/2024, which will be the first under his presidency, as explained by Constitutional Lawyer Bobby Mkangi.

“The president was sworn in when the 2022/2023 budget and appropriations had already been done. My understanding was this (the promise) was that it was going to happen 2024 going foward through parliamentary approved appropriations.” Bobby Mkangi.

5. Implement the constitutional requirement of a financially independent police service commission

“In our first 100 days we will implement the constitutional requirement of a police service commission to have its own budget and its own accounting officer…the police should run its own independent budget with its own accounting officer.” President William Ruto.

As early as 2019, Ruto and politicians allied to him decried the withdrawal of police protection detail as an alleged targeted attack by the government against those perceived as opposing the handshake between Raila Odinga and then president Uhuru Kenyatta. Some of the affected politicians included Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichungwah (now also the leader of the majority in the 13th parliament), Kiambu governor Ferdinand Waititu (recently appointed member of Nairobi Rivers Commission), Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa (now Cabinet Secretary Public Service, affirmative action and gender), Nakuru Senator Susan Kuhika (now Nakuru Governor) and Kandara MP Alice Wahome (now Cabinet Secretary for Water, sanitation, and Irrigation).

In August 2021 the Elite General Service Unit detail guarding Ruto’s residence was withdrawn and replaced by the Administration Unit in charge of the security of government buildings. This move was considered by the then deputy president as a political witch-hunt.

According to Ruto, the police were in a position to be manipulated by the government since their financial capacity was at the mercy of the government. In his words during the Kenya Kwanza manifesto launch, “he who pays the piper calls the tune.” During his inauguration speech, President Ruto asserted the independence of the police pointing out that article 245 of the constitution prescribes that the Inspector General (IG) exercise independent command over the National Police Service (NPS), adding that the independence of the police was undermined by financial dependence on the Office of the President.

During his inauguration speech, President Ruto ordered tha the instrument transferring financial dependence of the NPS from the Office of the President to the Inspector General be availed to him for signing.

“As I address you, I have instructed that the instrument conferring financial autonomy to the National Police Service by transferring their budget from the Office of the President and designating the Inspector-General as the accounting officer, be placed on my desk for signature.”

On September 15, 2022, via a letter, the National Treasury CS Ukur Yattani shifted the financial responsibility of the NPS from the Ministry of Interior and National coordination to the office of the IG making good on his promise to give the NPS financial independence and by extension operational independence. This promise stands fulfilled.

6. Ensure commission review to improve remuneration and terms of service for all officers in the security sector commensurate with the cost of living

The last time police salaries were reviewed was more than five years ago. Post elections, the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Edward Mbugua issued an internal memo dated October 27, 2022 calling for a meeting to discuss salaries, welfare, uniform and other administrative issues. This meeting came in the wake of doubts from police officers on whether the President will fulfil the pledges he made to review their salaries. This pledge has not been fulfilled within 100 days.

7. Ensure we respect and defend freedom of worship/lift the existing moratorium on registration of new religious organizations

In November 2014 then-Attorney General Githu Muigai barred the registration of new religious organizations pending the legislation of regulations to govern churches. The proposed rules sought to tighten regulations on the registration of churches while requiring churches to file their financial details with the registrar of societies.

However, in 2017 during a rally in Voi former President Uhuru Kenyatta lifted the ban but warned churches against illegal activities. It is not clear the moratorium against registration of new religious organizations Ruto was referring to during Kenya Kwanza manifesto launch and so it is hard to assess the status of this promise.

8. Complete transfer of all functions constitutionally earmarked as devolved functions to counties- within 3 months

A speech delivered by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Moses Wetangula, on behalf of the President, in Mombasa during the induction meeting of Governors and their deputies reiterates this promise.

The President further directed the National Treasury to avail funds for the transfer;

“I therefore want to direct the Ministry of Devolution to complete the process of unbundling of all these functions and the National Treasury to avail the necessary funds to complete the exercise.”

However as of December 4, 2022, the Kenya Kwanza administration was yet to deliver on this promise, with Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga renewing the call for the transfer of these functions.

“We ask that those functions be devolved together with the requisite funds. One of the biggest challenges we continue to experience is that a lot of money is left unutilized at the National Treasury.” Governor Mutahi Kahiga

9. Ensure contributory benevolent fund for families of fallen and terminally ill officers, including mental illness

This Benevolent Fund President Ruto promised is yet to be set up. The only one in existence was there even before the elections; the Utumishi Benevolent Fund; a members’ self-insurance scheme. The contribution is Sh350 per month and in case the principal member dies or leaves the society then his/her family is compensated.

Since the Kenya Kwanza government ascended to power nothing now on the promised fund has been shared with the public.

10. Harmonize affordable housing mortgages to be available for public servants and police

In December 2020, The Kenya Police Sacco rolled out a mortgage financing program for members to increase home ownership. The SACCO’s national chairman David Mategwa said members have the option to repay the mortgage in 15 years. This was way before the Kenya Kwanza team launched their manifesto and nothing about police mortgages has been shared to the public since they ascended to power.

11. Insurance covers for the loss of life of police in line of duty similar to that of the military

In 2020, Pioneer Insurance won a tender to introduce a new insurance scheme that will see families of police officers killed in the line of duty paid millions of shillings based on the individual’s earnings at the time of death (equivalent to an officer’s eight year salary). This was way before the Kenya Kwanza coalition was even formed and no new insurance cover for loss of life for police in the line of duty has been rolled out.

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