Deputy President William Ruto on Thursday described himself as a punching bag at whom all competitors take aim.
Speaking a day after an Ipsos survey showed that a third of Kenyans (33 per cent) viewed him as the most corrupt “of all the current, and past but still living political leaders”, Mr Ruto shrugged off the corruption claims and dared his opponents to a match he said he is sure to win — his and President Uhuru Kenyatta’s development record. He said they were behind the allegations.
“The constant, perennial and unending headlines about William Ruto this, William Ruto that, opinion polls this, corruption the other, is sponsored by our competitors because they cannot match our development records,” Mr Ruto said.
He was speaking during a breakfast meeting with Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru — who was ranked second in the Ipsos survey — and 33 members of county assemblies from the region at his Karen office in Nairobi.
Mr Ruto had on Wednesday argued that the survey used data that is “too politically correlated to be meaningful”, and hence, he said, produced “distorted opinions in a libellous crusade by shadowy sponsors”.
“When they are through with the headlines and the corruption propaganda, let us meet at the development arena of the people of Kenya because that is where the real contest is, and we will not allow them to take us to an arena that has no benefit to Kenyans,” the DP said.
“We have beaten them in serving Kenyans, now they have opted to fake opinion polls. As a matter of fact, they will never match our development records,” he added.
Later on Twitter, Mr Ruto was livid about unidentified people he suggested were blocking his planned ascent to the presidency in 2022.
“Those running injili ya shetani (the gospel of the devil) that unless your father was a minister, a vice- president or a president, however hard you work, you must remain poor and if not, you must be corrupt and have stolen, they should know that those without god fathers have God the father. Shindwe (To hell!),” Mr Ruto tweeted on his verified account at 2.20pm, before it was pulled down 30 minutes later.
He took the same stand he took during an interview with NTVlast month, during which he said that Kenyans judge him harsher than they do any other leader, most of whom he said were far 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?
“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 would 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 said in a spirited defence of his wealth.
During the interview, the DPsaid most of the things he was alleged to own were actually not his.
“William Ruto has never, ever been involved in any form of corruption, either as MP, or today as deputy president. And I give my pledge that I will not,” he said at the end of the interview with Mark Masai.
The Ipsos survey ranked former President Daniel arap Moi third among those Kenyans perceive to be most corrupt (17 per cent), with President Uhuru Kenyatta coming fourth (11 per cent).
Opposition leader Raila Odinga and former President Mwai Kibaki tied at fifth position (five per cent) in the poll that showed that more than half of Kenyans (51 per cent) feel that President Kenyatta is sincere in the fight against corruption.
Mr Ruto defended himself, saying the Jubilee Party’s development record — whose figures he has at his fingertips and frequently reels off during his numerous tours across the country — is unmatched, and linked what he said was an impressive record to his current woes.
“In the last six years of our leadership, we have put massive resources in the modernisation of roads and intensified power connectivity to households and businesses. Our goal is to make Kenya business-friendly and attract foreign investments,” Mr Ruto said.
While promising to support Mr Ruto’s presidential bid in 2022, Ms Waiguru observed that even though they have been advised to stop politicking, they have no option but to defend themselves against political attacks.
Kirinyaga County Assembly Majority Leader Kamau Murango said they were committed to supporting the deputy president.
“This is not a debt the people of Mt Kenya would be paying; they will be fulfilling a promise,” Mr Murango said.