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Integrity at centre of Karua, Rigathi face-off

THE STAR 07/20/2022

Rigathi said he is a victim of Uhuru's wrath to whip everybody to support his “political project”

Deputy Presidential candidates Rigathi Gachagua and Martha Karua during debate at CUEA on July 19, 2022 View pictures in App save up to 80% data.
Deputy Presidential candidates Rigathi Gachagua and Martha Karua during debate at CUEA on July 19, 2022 Image: EZEKIEL AMING'A

Deputy presidential candidates Rigathi Gachagu and Martha Karua differed sharply yesterday, with the issues of integrity coming at the centre of the debate.

Karua, a former Justice minister, described herself as an honest and hard working Kenyan, who does not believe in primitive accumulation of wealth.

Rigathi, whose Sh200 million assets have been frozen by the court over suspicion of being proceeds of graft, maintained he, too, was clean.

The Mathira MP, who is Deputy President William Ruto's running mate, instead blamed his woes on President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Deputy presidential candidates Rigathi Gachagua an Martha Karua at CUEA on July 19, 2022. View pictures in App save up to 80% data.
Deputy presidential candidates Rigathi Gachagua an Martha Karua at CUEA on July 19, 2022.

Rigathi said he is a victim of Uhuru's wrath to whip everybody to support his “political project”

“I don't have billions, I only have Sh203 million in that account. I am worth Sh800 million minus the Sh200 million they are holding, that's Sh600 million,” he said

Karua said she is not hungry for earthly wealth and that she is worth Sh150 million.

“This is because the Sh56 million I had declared in 2013 has appreciated because of inflation,” Karua said.

“I am a person many may not understand. I am not thirsty for land, I am happy to say I have a house I call home and a house in my father's land,” she said.

Kenya Kwanza deputy presidential candidate Rigathi Gachagua at CUEA on July 19, 2022. View pictures in App save up to 80% data.
Kenya Kwanza deputy presidential candidate Rigathi Gachagua at CUEA on July 19, 2022.

On his part, Gachagua said he is worth Sh800 million, including the Sh200 million frozen by the state over links to corruption claims.

“Sh64 million I worked with ministry of Lands and Settlement, Sh10 million, I worked with Kenya Power, Sh33 million I worked with the ministry of Livestock another Sh36 million I worked with another organization called Patek,” Gachagua said as he broke down his wealth.

The two differed sharply on how to handle a possible fallout with their bosses should their sides win the next month’s polls.

Whereas Karua talked of a possibility of personal differences, Rigathi on the other hand dismissed chances of any fallout, insisting it is unimaginable Kenya Kwanza can degenerate into sideshows at the expense of addressing the challenges affecting Kenyans.

Azimio presidential candidate Martha Karua at CUEA on July 19 View pictures in App save up to 80% data.
Azimio presidential candidate Martha Karua at CUEA on July 19

The Narc Kenya boss called for a respectful resolution of any differences outside the public eye.

“It is not humanely possible for people to think alike, it is imperative that all disagreements on issues happen in-house and what is brought out to the public is the result,” Karua said.

Rigathi, on his part, said they will not resort to sideshows but will focus their energies on serving Kenyans and reviving the economy, which is currently in a mess.

“DP Ruto and I are strong-willed leaders who respect each other; none of us suffers from inferiority complex. We don’t have time to disagree. What has brought us together is stronger than what sideshows can come in between us,” Rigathi said.

The two spoke during a live presidential debate at Catholic University of Eastern Africa in Nairobi.

They, however, agreed on retaining the current constitutional arrangement, where both the President and the Deputy President are elected as a ticket as opposed to having the DP handpicked by the President.

“We don’t need to amend the Constitution to prescribe the relationship between a president and a deputy president, people need to change their behavior,” Karua said.

View pictures in App save up to 80% data.
Deputy Presidential candidates Rigathi Gachagua and Martha Karua during debate at CUEA on July 19, 2022

Earlier, Roots Party presidential running mate Justina Wamae and Agano Party's Ruth Mutua on Tuesday denied they are 'projects' sponsored to sway the presidential election.

This as Wamae put up a spirited fight to defend Roots Party's radical plans including legalising bhang and exporting snake venom, saying it is their marshal plan to change the country's fortunes.

The two, who faced each other in the first segment of the deputy presidential debate at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa, said they are independent in the presidential contest.

“We are not being sponsored. If we are being sponsored then why would we have better ideas than our sponsors? Those who fear us are the ones branding us projects,” Wamae said.

She was responding to claims that Roots Party presidential candidate George Wajackoya is the state's project to run away with the crucial youth vote.

“Our mode is that Kenyans are sponsoring us directly and fuel our cars, others buy us food, some tell us come we will give you accommodation. We are not stealing from anyone,” she said.

Roots Party presidential running mate Justina Wamae and Agano Party's Ruth Mutua during the presidential debate at CUEA on July 19, 2022 View pictures in App save up to 80% data.
Roots Party presidential running mate Justina Wamae and Agano Party's Ruth Mutua during the presidential debate at CUEA on July 19, 2022 Image: EZEKIEL AMINGA

Mutua of Agano Party said they have an agenda for the country and are determined to bring fresh leadership in the management of the country.

“Nobody owns anyone's vote. Ours is to give alternative leadership in this country, saying that we are being owned by someone is negating our achievements,” she said.

Asked how they are funding their campaigns, Wamae said that since launching their presidential bid they have received overwhelming support from Kenyans of goodwill.

During the heated debate, Wamae sought to explain their big agenda of legalising bhang if Wajackoya will be elected president, saying they will do so for commercial purposes.

"Our money will come from legalising and commercialisation of bhang to have six billion US dollars annually to increase the salaries of civil servants and pay debts,” Wamae said.

The deputy presidential candidate said their government will use National Youth Service graduates to oversee marijuana farming across the country.

“They will work hand in hand with the field officers that we are going to employ as well as the extension officers to ensure correct farming of the product,” she said.

Roots Party presidential running mate Justina Wamae during the presidential debate at CUEA on July 19, 2022. View pictures in App save up to 80% data.
Roots Party presidential running mate Justina Wamae during the presidential debate at CUEA on July 19, 2022. Image: EZEKIEL AMINGA

However, Wamae was confronted with questions on why bhang farming has not changed economic fortunes of other countries around the globe that have legalised it.

“Kenyans are not taking home bhang but the returns from the investment in the farming of the product,” she said, insisting that their administration will focus on exports only.

However, Agano's Mutua dismissed the Roots Party's plan to legalise marijuana, saying it will trigger massive social crises that will ground the country's progress.

“This is not practical. Kenyans should not be cheated. I don't think I would allow my family members to take up marijuana,” Mutua said.

Wamae claimed that the international lenders put Kenya under pressure in early 2000s to ban marijuana so that they can impoverish the country and loan it.

“Nacada was gazetted in 2001 when the economy was doing badly. IMF told Kenya to ban marijuana and curtailed our potential to invest so that they could give us loans with high interests,” Wamae insisted.

She wondered why most of the developed countries that have legalised marijuana pushed the country to criminalise bang farming.

Agano Party's Ruth Mutua during the presidential debate at CUEA on July 19, 2022. View pictures in App save up to 80% data.
Agano Party's Ruth Mutua during the presidential debate at CUEA on July 19, 2022. Image: EZEKIEL AMINGA

But Mutua rubbished the proposal, suggesting that the Agano government will fight corruption to get enough resources to run government.

“I don't think that trying to legalise marijuana is responsible for the country's poor economy; corruption has eaten us up,” she said.

She added, “As Agano Party, we stand for morality, we don't want to destroy a whole generation by legalising bhang.”

The two running mates insisted they will be loyal to their bosses if elected to avoid the current situation that has seen President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto fall out.

“My work will not be to fight my boss. My role is to support the president; my role is not to tell the president I am better than you on this or that,” Wamae said.

Mutua said, “ I will dedicate my time to assist and give the President counsel on the agenda of the government.”

On fighting corruption, Wamae said Kenyans found to be corrupt would face the hangman’s noose.

However, Mutua said her administration will not deal with the menace by breaking the law.

“People who are corrupt have been running to the courts for protection. Even those in the judicial system will be subjected to hanging if they are found to be corrupt,” Wamae said.

Mutua said, "My counterparts are telling us that they will breach the law starting from day one by smoking bhang and then hanging people who are corrupt,” she said.

Both, however, concurred that no development agenda could be implemented if corruption is allowed to continue to thrive.

“We cannot change anything without ending corruption first. We can do nothing about the poor state of agriculture if we have corrupt people going about their daily activities,” Mutua said.

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