Amos Kimunya says William Ruto win could trigger revolution over unmet promises

Azimio la Umoja presidential candidate accompanied by Nyandarua Governor Francis Kimemia, National Assembly Majority leader Amos Kimunya and other leaders arriving at Ol Kalou in Nyandarua county on February 1, 2022, for a political rally. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

National Assembly Majority leader Amos Kimunya does not always play the prophet, but he sees doom in a presidency held by Deputy President William Ruto.  If Ruto wins, the Kipipiri MP says, there will be a revolution in six months.  

“In the unlikely event that Ruto wins the presidency on August 9, it is going to be a difficult time for this country,” Kimunya says, staring at the mahogany desk in front of him. He avoids my curious gaze. 

He says if one analyses the promises the DP makes and the pledges on the campaign trail, one will see the alleged flip-flopping and Ruto’s confusing U-turns. So much so, he says, that no one would know what the DP wants to implement.

“You know when you want to take advantage of the vulnerable and gullible, by promising them heaven, when you cannot even deliver hell. It will mean that probably within the first three months of that presidency you could end up with a revolution from the youth,” Kimunya adds.

He sees a difficult point in terms of so many promises that cannot be delivered. “You promise to put so much money like Sh100 billion, Sh50 billion and yet, we are in the budget process and those amounts are not there.”

He notes even the medium-term expenditure framework with all its commitments including IMF had been crystalised and wonders where Ruto will get the money to fulfill the promises.

“Kenya has big expenditure plans within the IMF fiscal framework and Ruto should tell Kenyans how he is going to navigate,” says Kimunya in an interview.

With this situation, he sees big companies are getting scared, especially when at the rallies the DP keeps talking about breaking the monopolies that some firms including international ones, operate in Kenya.

“What happens to the international companies that you want to come and set up businesses in Kenya?” he poses.

“Mama mboga and the mkokoteni people already have the hustles they have been doing for the last 50 years. It’s not a new invention. So how are you going to improve them any more than they already doing themselves? You can’t make the poor rich by making the rich-poor. Those are basic economics,” Kimunya says.

He adds: “Those working under micro-enterprises already have the credit guarantee scheme. We have money going through the various women funds. Let us find ways of increasing the money they are already accessing. We have the loans through the micro and small enterprises.”

The Kipipiri MP cuts an image of a corporate supremo, which sometimes makes him come across as somebody out of touch with the common mwananchi. But Kimunya has cut his teeth in politics and has gone through tough lessons to be where he is today.

“It’s a journey. Replete with joy and pain, tribulation and lessons,” Kimunya says.

Just 19 months as a majority leader, the onus of the once finance minister is to ensure President Uhuru Kenyatta has a smooth running on his last days of the presidency. Kimunya’s story is that of rise, fall and rise again. As he seats in an office once enjoyed by his predecessor and Garissa Town MP Aden Duale, Kimunya, who turned 60 three weeks ago, says he has learned good lessons in politics. He says when he lost in 2013, he realised his political colleagues were only acquaintances.

“I got to know that they are just people I know, my friends, are real people who sit with you and they tell you ‘we see where you’re going wrong’. They empathise with you and all that,” Kimunya adds.

“In politics, you learn not to trust even your political friends, also, because I learned one or the other things you can be carried away by apologies. And then you abandon your friends.”

He says he learned this when he was bundled out of the Finance Ministry over alleged scandal in the sale of Grand Regency now Laico, to the Libyan government. In the popular Kimunya must go chants, the Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) found him culpable in the unprocedural sale of the Sh4.5 billion hotel to the Muhammar Gaddafi government.

“It was a political witch hunt and I was surprised that MPs, including those I thought were my friends, turned against me,” he says.

When he lost his parliamentary seat, there were talk he wrote an unsavoury letter to his constituents expressing his displeasure. “I never wrote a letter to my constituents. It was fake news. My opponent stage-managed it to make me look bad, everyone seemed to have believed the ploy.

“It was a fake letter. Nobody has ever produced that letter. But the person who won really wanted to make it look like I’m ungrateful” Kimunya says.

The only letter he wrote, Kimunya explains, is one to the returning officer, conceding defeat and thanking everyone for their support for the last 10 years and that was not publicised.

Kimunya admits that the yellow fever (UDA) wave has been strong in Nyandarua and Mount Kenya region but says using the red army, they will neutralise the influence and push for a 50-50 percent.

“When I lost the election, it opened my eyes and I learned the biggest lesson that I needed to be listening to the electorate and not taking anything or anyone for granted.

“Those lessons have made me a better leader today I don’t have any problem with my constituents. Now I consult a lot, I take nothing and no one for granted. Losing gave me an opportunity to not humble me but it also gave me time to go back to school and learn,” he says.

He says the removal from Cabinet was the most painful thing because he received mob lynching.

After spirited fights including vowing not to resign in the popular ‘I would rather die than resign’ slogan he threw in the towel after intense pressure from within and outside Parliament. 

“When I said I would rather die, I was quoting a song. But the essence is I knew I was right and they were forcing me to resign for something I had not done. I knew it was a witch hunt and I am happy I used that statement and it has gone down in history and become something Kenyans can remember me for,” he says.

When a report of the commission of inquiry into the sale of Laico Regency was released, Kimunya said he is happy because it cleared him of any wrongdoing. “In fact, President Kibaki wanted to appoint me back to the Finance Ministry, where the late John Michuki was the acting minister when I was away. But I thought it was not prudent and I turned down and instead I was taken to Trade ministry,” he recalls.

He says that because he knew he was not wrong. Kimunya says the government most often makes decisions for the common good of citizens, but that can be misconstrued and made politically unpopular for expediency.

He remembers how on two occasions he was forced by politics of the day to rescind sound government policy positions and degazetted the directives he had gazetted.

“I remember I was forced to rescind the gazettement of the directive that agricultural land should not be subdivided below a hectare, two and a half acres unless it was registered as commercial land. This became a serious campaign issue and the 2005 Banana and Orange referendum. It affected the chances of the Banana side because people began saying that if the new constitution passes people with small lands will not get ownership documents,” he says.

The other one was gazetting the ban of the 14-seater matatus from Nairobi meant to decongest the capital and at the same time help business people own bigger matatus.

“We were to assist them and they would organise themselves and acquire bigger vehicles. This was agreed with the matatu owners where we would ensure three matatu owners got a bus. But thereafter it became a campaign issue with people saying we wanted to kill their small ventures,” he says.

And as his boss President Uhuru Kenyatta prepares to retire in five months, he says Uhuru has done much though he has not done more than he wanted because Ruto began pulling in a different direction four years back.

The departure of Ruto in government, he acknowledges, meant the cabinet was divided and worse still Parliament became politically charged and the troops in Jubilee stopped working with the same focus. “Nonetheless, he said Uhuru has pulled through and taken the country through the Covid-19 crisis, and he has united Kenyans,” he adds. 

The MP says he will be happy to see Azimio flag bearer Raila Odinga win the presidency in August. “I have had a cordial relationship since 2008 when we worked with Raila for under eight years. We became very good friends, and I accompanied him a lot when he was Prime Minister,” he says.

On his free time, he says he loves reading. “I read a lot to keep up to date. I’m also a golfer, although I’ve not played much golf since I joined this office,” he adds.