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DP Ruto’s remarks caused storm in DRC, Kenyan ambassador says

Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto at a past Government function. [File, Standard]

Kenya’s Embassy in Kinshasa says Deputy President William Ruto’s remarks on inadequate milk supply in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has triggered uproar in the country.

Kenya’s Ambassador to Kinshasa George Masafu, in a statement dated Wednesday, February 16, said the consulate had informed Kenya’s Foreign Affairs ministry about the Congolese people’s reactions to Ruto’s utterances.

“The Embassy has informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Nairobi on the negative reactions that the comments have triggered among the business community and general populace in the DRC,” Masafu said in the statement.

The ambassador, however, pledged to mend fences with DRC.

“Kenya is confident that these relations will be entrenched through government-to-government frameworks and people-to-people partnerships that have been built in the last years,” he said.

DP Ruto on Tuesday, February 15, kicked up an online storm when he alleged that the Democratic Republic of Congo has insufficient milk supply.

Ruto was speaking in Nyeri County, where he promised to streamline the milk sector, saying if he is elected president in the August 9 General Election, he will negotiate for a milk market in the DRC.

He said his government would be able to produce three billion litres of milk, which would be sold locally and exported to countries in need, “such as the DRC”.

“In Congo, there are 90 million people, but they don’t have even one cow [for milk production]. I am talking about DRC, where there are very many known Rhumba musicians, including Kanda Bongo Man,” said the deputy president during a rally in Nyeri.

He also described the Congolese as “watu wanoavaa long’i kwa tumbo (they put on high-waist trousers)”.

A video of the DP making the remarks circulated on social media, catching the attention of the Senator for Haut-Katanga Province in DRC, Francine Muyumba, who described Ruto’s remarks as “an insult”.

“Mr. Vice Preisident @WilliamsRuto, this is really unacceptable, with all due respect there is a need to withdraw this statement. If DRC did not have a single cow, how could Kenya sign economic deals with DRC? @EquityBCDC is currently making money in Congo, this [is] an insult,” she tweeted on Tuesday.

The Standard has established that DR Congo has a fairly high number of livestock, contrary to DP William Ruto’s allegations.

A Demand Analysis Report on DRC published by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) shows that the country has at least 750,000 well taken care of cattle. The animals are mostly found in the eastern part of DRC.

The USAID report also shows that the country has 4.1 million goats, 910,000 sheep, one million pigs, and 2.1 million poultry.

The report further indicated that in 2012 alone, the country produced 255 million kilograms of meat for consumption.