Ruto vows to stop cartels in tea and coffee and milk production

President William Ruto, National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang'ula and Bomet Governor Hilary Barchok in Bomet on Sunday. [Gilbert Kimutai, Standard]

President William Ruto has promised to get rid of cartels in the tea, coffee and milk sub-sectors.

The president dismissed claims that his decision to task Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua to lead reforms in the sub-sectors was a political set-up.

"I hear some people saying that the duties I have allocated my deputy is some kind of a political set-up meant to make him unpopular among his people. That is not true," said Dr Ruto, as he directed Mr Gachagua to move with speed and dismantle the cartels beginning this week.

Speaking after attending an interdenominational Sunday service at the Bomet Green Stadium, Ruto said removing brokers and middlemen will help reduce the cost of food production.

He said interventions at the production level, if done right, will enable farmers produce more.

The president, who was accompanied Gachagua, Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi, National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang'ula, among other leaders, said his government was determined to ensure farmers get value for their produce.

"We must empower our farmers through timely interaction like removing the cartels from the food chain and providing them with essential inputs like fertiliser so that they can improve production," he said.

Gachagua took an issue with a section of the media that he claimed was giving the Kenya Kwanza government unsolicited advice on how to govern.

"We will continue to tell Kenyans the truth. Forget about these newspaper columnists claiming to advice us about how to run government yet they were all on the other side of the political divide," he said.

"We do not want your unsolicited advice. From next week, I will be meeting with the banks and other players in those three sectors (coffee, tea and milk)."

He told off the media, saying only Kenyans who put them in office were free to advise the Ruto administration and not columnists.

The deputy president has been vocal about the governments's intention to probe what it terms "State capture" in the previous administration to bring to book those it believes have run down the economy. "We will look into the conflict of interest, which in our view, is responsible for the economic crisis the country is facing," he told the congregation.

President Ruto took an issue with leaders who he claimed were continuing with political campaigns at the expense of addressing issues affecting Kenyans.

"All the leaders who were elected must now focus on serving Kenyans. It is now our turn to discharge our contract with the people of Kenya and there is no time to waste," he said.

In particular, the president castigated Kericho MCAs who recently engaged in fist fights in the County Assembly over house leadership positions.

"Kericho MCAs should be ashamed of themselves, wasting time fighting over nothing. Shame on you!" said a visibly agitated president.

He said the country is capable of moving forward economically when all the leaders work together for the good of the people.

Urging Kenyans to support his administration, the president said the country was capable of overcoming the current economic challenges when all leaders work in unity.

On education, Presidentt Ruto warned politicians against politicising the ongoing recruitment of 35,000 new teachers.

The Head of State assured Kenyans that the recruitment process will be carried out professionally and only qualified individuals will be considered.

"The government is taking seriously measures to address the challenges facing the education sector. We will soon commence the process of recruiting 35,000 teachers across the country," he said.

"That process will be carried out professionally and merit will be considered. I want tell politicians not to interfere with the process. We want that process to be devoid of politics."

The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) has advertised 35,550 positions for teachers who will work in primary and junior secondary schools.

In a notice circulated late last year, the the employer said it has 9,000 vacancies on permanent and pensionable terms for secondary school teachers and another 1,000 for primary school tutors.

TSC will also recruit 21,550 teacher interns in junior secondary schools and another 4,000 interns for primary schools.

The president urged farmers to register with the government through the provincial administration to benefit from the subsidised fertiliser set to be released soon.

The president also said he chose to start his development tour in Nyanza to show the country that every region will benefit from his administration.

Ruto said his two-day tour of the region, which voted for Azimio, should not be misconstrued to be a political mission.

"There are no Kenyans who belong to Azimio at the moment, we are equal and will benefit from the national cake," he said.

"We have finished setting up government and assigning one another roles and what is remaining is to work for the people."

Ruto landed with a bag of development promises for Bomet County. He said his administration would launch a Sh21 billion water project.

He said obstacles against the project, which failed to take off during the reign President Uhuru Kenyatta, had been removed and he will be returning in April to launch the construction.

Ruto said the project will ensure Bomet, Kericho and Narok get clean water for use in their homes.

He said his administration is also rolling out a Sh1.7 billion Bomet-Longisa-Mulot water project.