Orengo: Ruto has nothing to lose if Jubilee fails to deliver

Siaya Senator James Orengo during the Point Blank production. [John Muchucha/Standard]
Senate Minority Leader James Orengo has claimed Cabinet secretaries are at war with each other and challenged President Uhuru Kenyatta to make changes.

Mr Orengo, said Uhuru would be harshly judged if he does not deliver on his pledges by allowing himself to be bogged down by a “divided Cabinet that includes a deputy president working at cross-purposes with his boss.”

The Siaya Senator said Deputy President William Ruto’s campaigns ahead of 2022 were derailing Uhuru’s development agenda and the fight against corruption, adding that unlike Uhuru, the DP had nothing to lose.

“In writing history, they will talk about Uhuru Kenyatta’s tenure. Ruto will not feature,” said Orengo. He urged Uhuru to take outright charge of his vessel.

Internal conflicts

Orengo said the Government was fractured by internal conflicts between individuals in power and State entities that had made the State to operate improperly.

Orengo painted an image of a Government made of isolated limbs, with segments consisting of a deputy president on campaign mode, divided Cabinet and neglected Judiciary.

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“The Government has become dysfunctional. It is at cross-purposes,” Orengo stated while faulting agencies for not working together to enable Uhuru actualise his pledges to Kenyans.

Speaking yesterday on KTN News’ Pointblank, Orengo was unapologetic on his view towards Dr Ruto, who he described as a distracted leader who was not sailing in the same ship with his captain (Uhuru).

“The DP has made his ambitions of 2022 presidency clear, which is making it hard for him to serve the President,” argued Orengo.

He cited instances when the DP was heard speaking in contrary to what the investigating agencies had said.

Among them is the ongoing court case, where Ruto dismissed claims that funds meant for Kimwarer and Arror dams had been lost, and termed the alarm by investigators flat lie.

“Ruto should not be speaking from the sidelines because he is in Government. If I were Ruto, I would do the honourable thing by resigning.”

Orengo gave an example of former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who resigned after developing interest for the presidency.

Ruto has, however, been on record saying he was traversing the country to monitor Government projects.

Beyond the Presidency, Orengo also pointed out that the Cabinet was another splintered appendage rocked by divisions and that it was of little use to Uhuru.

“Cabinet is dysfunctional. They are throwing stones at each other. The current one cannot work together to achieve Government’s agenda,” he claimed without detailing the nature of alleged divisions.

Orengo’s argument contradicts what State House had earlier said, with spokesperson Kanze Dena dismissing such claims as mere speculations.

“To bring sense in the management of Government, the President should dismiss and reconstitute the Cabinet,” said Orengo.

In his view, corruption has permeated various sectors, including ministries, with those unwilling to support the fight trading blames and counter-accusations, doing no good to the country.

He commended Uhuru’s administration for taking the initiative of arresting and prosecuting officials at Treasury, saying it signaled that the President was ready to deal with grand corruption.

“I agree with what was once said by the Auditor General that corruption is actually budgeted from the Treasury. The Treasury is the nerve centre of every activity in any nation,” he said.

To address corruption in totality, Orengo advocated for more measures, including asset recoveries, to supplement prosecution.

“Asset recovery could be more effective tool because you can get immediate results. Prosecution may take a long time,” Orengo opined.

The senior counsel also identified the under-funding in the Judiciary as limiting its operations and contributing to dysfunctional state of Government. 

The Treasury allocated Sh18.8 billion to the Judiciary, an amount that the institution vested with meting out justice indicated was not enough, considering the backlog of cases they were handling.

Technological gaps

Orengo said the institution was struggling with technological gaps, where it relied on old methods of handling cases, especially record keeping.

“Courts need a better environment, better recording tools like Parliament, where we have the Hansard. Technology is not up to par to deal with issues,” he said.

He argued that judges had no choice but to manually record in writing every word uttered by witnesses and lawyers, making the process long and exhausting.

“A witness can speak for long hours, days or even weeks, and recording accurately is not easy,” said Orengo.

He claimed the ongoing graft cases could have moved faster if modern technology was in place.

However, Orengo expressed hope that the issue was being addressed since “bad blood between the Executive and the Judiciary” was now a thing of the past.

On constitutional reforms Orengo faulted the Punguza Mizigo Bill fronted by Third Way Alliance party leader Ekuru Aukot, saying it was opportunistic and rigid.

He said the initiative had not gone through public participation and was merely a creation of a few individuals, unlike a cause by the Building Bridges Initiative.

“Punguza Mizigo Bill cannot be amended and was not subjected to conversation, unlike what Building Bridges Initiative is doing. No one has even seen the Bill itself,” argued Orengo, saying he would only support a Bill where stakeholders have been involved.

The Punguza Mizigo Bill is now being received in the county assemblies after the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) verified the signatures and said it met the threshold.

The counties have three months to pass or reject the Bill.

Among the amendments it seeks to introduce is a one seven-year term presidency, abolishing nominations in Senate and county assemblies and reducing the number of Members of the National Assembly from the current 416 to 147.

Political leaders have been sharply divided over the matter, with some, including Nandi Governor Stephen Sang, supporting the Bill.

However, National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale dismissed the Bill and warned Garissa MCAs to vote against it, saying anyone who dares support it would face the wrath of the electorate.

Orengo is among the latest leaders to reject the Bill. Orengo said his position was personal and had nothing to do with his Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party.

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Senate Minority Leader James OrengoPresident Uhuru KenyattaDP William Ruto2022 succession politics