Deputy President (DP) William Ruto has donated at least Sh60 million in different harambees in the past six months, almost eight times his salary in as many months, tabulations by the Nation has shown.
The country’s second-in-command is today expected to lead another funds drive in Karisa Maitha Grounds in Kilifi town to help in efforts to translate the Bible to Giriama.
Here, in a similar script he has repeated since he was elected deputy president, and most especially after his re-election in 2017, Mr Ruto will most likely deliver a bundle of crisp notes well-arranged and into the hands of smiling members of the clergy.
It is a trend he has vehemently defended, arguing in large part, that “unlike God, who gave His son as a sacrifice, none of us is being asked to give more than we can.”
For Mr Ruto, who walked his way up the political chain from a chicken seller in Uasin Gishu to deputy president, and possibly Head of State in 2022, his contributions should only be seen in the context of where he takes, and why he does it, but not where he gets the huge amounts to dish out very generously.
“There are people who sometimes shock us by asking why we go to churches and why we donate towards church projects. But if you investigate these people they spend their money on witchcraft,” Mr Ruto told a church gathering in Kayole, Nairobi last week.
“Because we do not ask them where they got the money that they spend on witchcraft, they should let us contribute to the work of God,” he said.
Even in his immense generosity, Mr Ruto argues that while he is not a poor man, he was being subjected to a scrutiny together with those he said were way richer than him.
“Can you truthfully say that William Ruto is a rich man in this Kenya? Richer than the people that we all know?” NTV’s Mark Maasai asked him in an exclusive interview this month.
“I won’t say that I am a poor man, but I wouldn’t say that I would be in the class of people that Kenyans can want to be interested in what they own. There are people who own things in this country and I am not in that class,” Mr Ruto answered.
Mr Ruto on Friday donated Sh5 million in cash to Kolanya Boys High School in Busia during a funds drive for the construction of three dormitories destroyed by fire in May, adding Sh5 million he said was from the State Department of Irrigation.
On Sunday during a harambee at Baricho Catholic Church in Kirinyaga, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri delivered Sh1million donated by the DP.
In Central Kenya, in particular, Mr Ruto has donated at least Sh7 million a month in the last three months.
His biggest contribution was Sh15 million donated to Murang’a High School on April 6 for the construction of a multi-purpose hall.
On June 9, the DP graced a fundraiser at Mary Immaculate Primary School in Nanyuki and donated Sh3 million and barely four weeks later he attended another fundraiser at Kairuri Catholic parish, in Embu County where he gave the clergy Sh5 million.
He also donated Sh1 million delivered by Senate Majority Leader Kichumba Murokomen and Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa at a harambee at Muruguru Catholic church in Nyeri Constituency.
“The deputy president did not start donating money after 2017. Before we went to the polls, he was assisting churches. Why are we so concerned now that we are staring at 2022 elections?” posed Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua, defending the DP’s donations in Mt Kenya.
His Kieni counterpart Kanini Kega noted that comparing the DP’s salary to what he contributes in harambees was unreasonable and misleading.
“People assume that we rely on our salaries but they are wrong. We have businesses that supplement our salaries and from the profits we get, we have money to donate,” he said.
Meanwhile in Embu, Bishop Paul Kariuki, who had barred politicians from campaigning in his diocese in 2017, appeared to have changed tune.
DONATED SH5 MILLION
When on July 1, Mr Ruto donated Sh5 million, he said was a joint effort with President Uhuru Kenyatta, Bishop Kariuki appeared to have relaxed his stringent rules.
Speaking to Mr Ruto and a congregation that included John Cardinal Njue, Bishop Kariuki said: “If you do not travel around the country, anxious members of public will start asking where you are.
This is the time to do what you were told, kutangatanga (roam). Do not be afraid because to those who will start visiting us in 2022, we will ask them where they have been and didn’t loiter earlier on. In 2022, I will write a letter banning politics in the church.”
Mr Ruto has publicly admitted to owning the 100-bed Weston Hotel opposite Wilson Airport on Lang’ata Road and is said to have interests in Amaco Insurance, besides a vast agricultural business in his Sugoi rural home.
He has, however, denied reports linking him to the 680 Hotel at the city centre, which he was said to have bought at Sh3 billion and Hotel Boulevard next to the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation.
In the NTV interview, he also disputed claims that he had acquired a new fleet of helicopters.
In western Kenya, the has documented his contributions in Tande Secondary school in Malava constituency (a Sh5.2 million bus) on July 6, and a Sh500, 000 he donated to Musanda secondary in Mumias West constituency the same day.
He had also given Sh2 million in February to Nabwela Boys high school, Chwele in Bungoma County.
Mr Ruto on June 9 donated Sh2 million in Rumuruti, Laikipia County, and a total of Sh7 million on May 26 in Nakuru—Sh2 million to the Holy Cross Catholic Church, and Sh5 million towards development of various projects, including a school bus, in Kapkures, Nakuru West.
Also in Nakuru, the deputy president had on May 3 donated Sh2 million towards development of a Catholic Church project in Njoro.
Additional reporting by Charles Wanyoro