President William Ruto’s recent remarks towards investors in Kenya have sparked outrage and condemnation from the opposition.
President Ruto’s comments, made during a speech in Bungoma on August 28, 2023, appeared to threaten an investor with either deportation, a jail term, or a journey to heaven.
The Opposition’s Azimio Coalition, through Senators Stewart Madzayo, Enoch Wambua, and Eddy Oketch, expressed concern that such remarks could deter private investors from engaging in business activities in the country.
“It is quite disturbing to hear a whole President William Ruto threatening investors in Kenya by claiming that they be arrested, deported, or taken to heaven,” observed the lawmakers.
They further defended billionaire businessman Jaswant Singh Rai, who is believed to be the subject of President Ruto’s attacks, highlighting his right to own and run businesses without necessarily supporting the sitting President. While acknowledging allegations against Mr. Rai regarding the alleged stalling of the revival of the sugar industry, the lawmakers argued that there are better and more diplomatic ways to address such concerns rather than resorting to threats and intimidation.
The lawmakers stressed the need to revitalize state-owned sugarcane companies for the benefit of the residents. They argued that by reviving these industries, Kenyans will have access to affordable sugar and job opportunities will be created. Instead of targeting individual investors, they suggested that the government should focus on implementing strategies to ensure the growth of these industries and address any obstacles they may face.
President William Ruto, during his speech in Bungoma, emphasized his government’s commitment to ensuring the common citizens have access to essential services. He made it clear that his government will not spare anyone who frustrates the efforts to provide these services. While the intention behind his remarks may have been to promote accountability and efficiency, the opposition and critics argue that such statements only serve to create a hostile environment for investors and undermine Kenya’s attractiveness as an investment destination.
President Ruto issued a strong warning to individuals whom he accused of deliberately sabotaging the sugar factory mills in the western region. These actions have resulted in millions of unpaid dues for sugarcane farmers, who have been left in a dire financial situation.
Ruto made it clear that the cartels responsible for these acts would have three options: to leave the country, to face imprisonment, or to meet their fate in heaven.
This statement has sparked controversy and criticism from various groups including the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) and human rights organizations such as Haki Africa, Kenya Human Rights Commission, and Amnesty International Kenya.
These groups have jointly condemned the President’s remarks, stating that it raises serious concerns about the government’s commitment to upholding human rights and the rule of law. They argue that every person has the right to access the courts and have their disputes resolved in accordance with the law, as guaranteed by the Kenyan Constitution.
By seemingly suspending the Constitution and disregarding the rule of law, the President’s declaration has raised alarm among these lobby groups, who believe that it sets a dangerous precedent for the country.