DP Gachagua: We will probe 'state capture' and conflict of interest

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua during a live interview with KTN News at his private residence in Karen, Nairobi. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

The government will probe what it terms ‘state capture’ in the previous administration to bring to book those it believes have run down the economy. 

This was a declaration by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua. “We will set up a commission to look into state capture and conflict of interest which in our view is responsible for the economic crisis the country is facing. And even if we do not want to pin anybody down, we would like to have recommendations so that in future, state capture and conflict of interest will never again impoverish the country,” Gachagua said.

The commission will be established in 30 days and among other things will make public the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) contract that has been said to have put public facilities as collateral that can be auctioned should the country fail to meet its financial obligations.

SGR contract

“Yes it will come up in the commission for state capture. It’s a public contract and Kenyans are entitled to know exactly what were the details of that contract,” said Gachagua.

He however said they are not targeting the retired President Uhuru Kenyatta.

 “We are not interested in individuals. By the way we have no problem with the outgoing president. We wish him well in retirement,” said the deputy president. 

In the interview, aired on KTN News, Gachagua said he and former President Uhuru Kenyatta are not enemies and that their differences were just a clash of political opinions.

While Mr Gachagua stood by the speech he gave during the inauguration of President William Ruto, he said none of the policies or actions the new government has promised target Uhuru.

“We have no problem with Uhuru. We wish him well in retirement. In fact, he’s my buddy for 20 years and when things settle down I’ll look for him we catch up on old times because this was all politics. It’s nothing personal,” he said in an interview on KTN News on Sunday.

“Politics is over. It was nothing personal, this was all politics. He wanted (to go) this way, I wanted (to go) that way. I’ve won and he has lost, we move on and I’ll look for him for a cup of tea we have a chat,” he said.

Climb down?

But Gachagua’s stating that he would reach out to Uhuru was by no means a climb down from the remarks he made during the swearing-in at Kasarani.

He repeated the same claims on Sunday, that Uhuru used law enforcement and the fight against corruption to settle political scores and destroyed the economy.

The DP also maintained he and Azimio leader Raila Odinga were not enemies despite competing against each other in the August 9 General Election.

He said he respects Raila, especially for attending the burial of his brother, the late former Nyeri Governor Nderitu Gachagua. “We are not enemies. Disagreeing politically is not enmity. It is this outgoing administration that made political differences to be enmity,” said Gachagua.

“Raila came to my home to bury my brother, the late governor, and that is not something I take lightly,” he added.

The DP said his meeting with Raila at Moi International Airport in Mombasa last week was by chance as they waited to board a flight to Nairobi. “We talked about our country and the elections. I requested him with a lot of humility to take up his role and lead his troops to keep us in check and hold us to account because we want to succeed and effective opposition is good for the country,” he said.

The DP regretted that Kenya had a problem in the last five years because “there was no opposition but a mongrel of government where you couldn’t tell who was in government and who wasn’t.”

“It was all mix-up and that is why things went out of their way; that is why we have empty coffers,” he said.

But Gachagua said it was a shame that Raila had dismissed the appointment of judges to the Court of Appeal and the additional funds to the Judiciary Fund as bribes to the courts. The Azimio leader said the reason Ruto appointed the six judges and the proposed annual allocation of Sh3 billion to the Judiciary is part of a scheme to capture the courts.

“I saw some people from Azimio accusing us of giving judges money so that we bribe them. I am ashamed that people who say they fought for the second liberation have a problem with an independent Judiciary,” said Gachagua.

He said one of the ways to make the Judiciary effective is to give it financial autonomy and sufficient funds. “The Judiciary has been allocated Sh18 billion this year; the Chief Justice and the Chief Registrar have told us that for them to deliver justice properly and deal with a backlog of cases by employing more people and building more courts they need Sh28 billion a year,” he said.

Economic crisis

The DP said that because of the poor economy, the government had agreed on a plan to increase the fund by Sh2b for five years to top up to Sh28 billion. The issue of the dire financial straits that the government faces made its way into Gachagua’s interview repeatedly, as Ruto’s administration scrambles to control the rise of food prices occasioned by an increase in fuel prices.

One of the solutions the government is pursuing is settling the Sh500 billion pending bills. The DP said this action would free up money to circulate in the economy and revive businesses which are on the brink and in debt because of the money they are owed.