Ruto’s shut­tle diplo­macy for Amina job to cost mil­lions

The del­e­ga­tion has so far vis­ited Al­ge­ria, Mali, Chad, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Gabon, DRC and Nige­ria

The Star (Kenya) - - Front Page - FELIX OLICK AND SA­MUEL KISIKA @TheS­tarKenya

KENYA has char­tered a pri­vate plane for Deputy Pres­i­dent Wil­liam Ruto’s pan-African cam­paign for For­eign Af­fairs CS Amina Mo­hamed in a move rem­i­nis­cent of the Sh100 mil­lion “Hustler Jet” scan­dal of 2013.

Kenya has launched a mas­sive diplo­matic of­fen­sive to have Mo­hamed re­place South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma as the next chair­per­son of the African Union Com­mis­sion.

How­ever, the of­fen­sive, tar­geted at all the 53 AU states, is likely to cost Kenya hun­dreds of mil­lions of shillings in ex­pen­di­ture that was not fac­tored in the cur­rent fi­nan­cial year.

So far, Ruto has been to 10 African states in a week-long lob­by­ing blitz – fly­ing to the var­i­ous cap­i­tals in the pri­vate jet at the head of a large del­e­ga­tion.

Ruto has vis­ited Chad, the DRC, Nige­ria, Al­ge­ria, Liberia, Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Mali, Sierra Leone and Gabon.

Be­sides Ruto, there is a sep­a­rate seven-man Cabi­net sub-com­mit­tee headed by Ed­u­ca­tion CS Fred Ma­tiang’i that is spear­head­ing a sep­a­rate cam­paign.

Other mem­bers of the team in­clude Na­jib Balala (Tourism), Si­cily Kar­iuki (Pub­lic Ser­vice), Judy Wakhungu (En­vi­ron­ment), Henry Rotich (Na­tional Trea­sury), Adan Mo­hammed (In­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion) and Ray­chelle Omamo (De­fence).

Ac­cord­ing to on­line es­ti­mates for Para­mount Jets, a pri­vate jet hire com­pany, a VIP jet flight that can carry up to 50 pas­sen­gers costs be­tween Sh1.6 and Sh2.3 mil­lion per hour.

Apart from the cost of the jet the del­e­ga­tion is also be­ing paid huge daily al­lowances. The state also meets their ac­com­mo­da­tion, meals and bev­er­ages ex­penses.

But yes­ter­day, Gov­ern­ment Spokesman Eric Ki­raithe main­tained, “It is way much more ex­pen­sive” to take a com­mer­cial flight, espe­cially where there are no di­rect flights.

“When it’s [the pri­vate jet] prop­erly pro­cured, it’s way much cheaper,” Ki­raithe told the Star. “When it comes to fly­ing th­ese del­e­ga­tions, you can’t af­ford com­mer­cial. It’s not easy, it is way much more ex­pen­sive and takes way much longer.”

Ac­cord­ing to Ki­raithe, com­mer­cial flights are only eco­nom­i­cal where one or two peo­ple are in­volved.

“At the end of the day, the ex­penses ex­ceed the cost of get­ting a fair price for a pri­vate jet...Take it this way, if you want to go to Kakamega, then you go to Bu­sia, then you want to go to Kisumu, Kisii, the best thing you can do is to take a he­li­copter,” Ki­raithe said.

In his weekly me­dia brief­ings yes­ter­day, State House Spokesman Monoah Esip­isu said Kenyans will see more of the trips ahead of the AU elec­tions in Jan­uary.

“You can ex­pect to see more of the travel, as Kenya is ro­bustly seek­ing an African con­sen­sus on the can­di­da­ture of Am­bas­sador Mo­hamed and that can only be achieved if the Pres­i­dent reaches out to all the con­ti­nent’s lead­ers, which is what he is do­ing,” Esip­isu said.

But the new jet hire rekin­dles mem­o­ries of the Sh100 mil­lion Hustler Jet Scan­dal – the first cor­rup­tion in­ci­dent to hit Ju­bilee only two months af­ter Pres­i­dent Keny­atta’s


In May 2013, the gov­ern­ment hired a lux­ury jet for Ruto to lobby African states for de­fer­ral of the ICC crimes against hu­man­ity cases against him and Uhuru that were Ju­bilee’s big­gest headache at the time.

The Par­lia­men­tary Ac­counts Com­mit­tee in­dicted Ruto’s Chief of Staff Mar­i­anne Ki­tany and four other top of­fi­cials in the DP’s Of­fice for breach of pro­cure­ment rules.

How­ever, Ju­bilee flexed its nu­mer­i­cal strength in the ple­nary and de­feated MPs push­ing for pros­e­cu­tions.

This fi­nan­cial year, the Pres­i­dency was al­lo­cated Sh5 bil­lion in the Sh2.3 tril­lion bud­get to run its af­fairs.

State House got Sh2.94 bil­lion, while the Deputy Pres­i­dent’s Of­fice re­ceived Sh1.92 bil­lion.

How­ever, Ju­bilee has been un­der fire for the Pres­i­dency’s huge spend­ing, par­tic­u­larly on for­eign trav­els and hos­pi­tal­ity.

For in­stance, hos­pi­tal­ity and travel al­lo­ca­tions in the June Sup­ple­men­tary Bud­get were raised to Sh1.7 bil­lion, an 84 per cent in­crease, from Sh925.4 mil­lion in the 2015-16 fi­nan­cial year.

The Pres­i­dency spent Sh946 mil­lion on travel and hos­pi­tal­ity from July to De­cem­ber last year, a sum ex­ceed­ing the year’s al­lo­ca­tion by Sh21 mil­lion.

In April this year, the Chief Fi­nance Of­fi­cer in Ruto’s of­fice, Mary Kundu, told Par­lia­ment the DP’s Of­fice was faced with ac­crued huge pend­ing bills from his of­fi­cial trav­els while rep­re­sent­ing the Pres­i­dent abroad.

She ac­cused For­eign Af­fairs min­istry, which is man­dated with fund­ing for­eign trav­els within the Pres­i­dency, of be­ing re­luc­tant to fund Ruto’s vis­its.

She said, “Some­times we have to look for funds some­where and the bills have to be re­paid.”

Mo­hamed will face­off with can­di­dates from Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Botswana and Senegal in the Jan­uary elec­tions in Ad­dis Ababa, Ethiopia.

In July, the elec­tion flopped af­ter the can­di­dates failed to gar­ner the two-thirds ma­jor­ity vote in Ki­gali, Rwanda.

Mo­hamed has said she is best placed to guide the African Union into the fu­ture on the global stage.

“I am an African with im­pec­ca­ble pan-African cre­den­tials. I bring on board com­pe­ten­cies and ex­pe­ri­ence that shall make it pos­si­ble to se­cure the vi­sion of Agenda 2063,” Mo­hamed said.

This is con­tained in a vi­sion state­ment re­leased yes­ter­day.

“Ev­ery African cit­i­zen de­serves a life of dig­nity free from harm in or­der to pro­mote so­cial jus­tice and the re­al­i­sa­tion of their po­ten­tial. I am op­ti­mistic that to­gether we can con­tinue to cre­ate a con­ti­nent that not only em­bod­ies our pride and dig­nity, but also as a hub for peace and sta­bil­ity,” Mo­hamed said.

Ac­cord­ing to Mo­hamed, her 30 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence in diplo­macy gives her the edge in lead­ing the African Union into push­ing the con­ti­nent’s agenda in the global arena.

“I have shown my met­tle dur­ing the most dif­fi­cult times for the con­ti­nent. My in­de­pen­dent in­ter­na­tional cred­i­bil­ity and pro­fes­sion­al­ism have been tried and tested,” Mo­hamed said.

She said that she will lever­age on her rich ex­pe­ri­ence and con­tacts across the globe and shall not hes­i­tate to lobby for po­si­tions, part­ner­ships and pacts, “As well as ad­vo­cate a stronger and re­spected African voice in the in­ter­na­tional arena”.

Mo­hamed said she would fo­cus on in­tra-Africa trade, un­leash­ing the po­ten­tial of African women and youth and so­cial in­vest­ment and in­clu­sive growth.

Her pri­or­i­ties also in­clude peace and se­cu­rity, pre­dictable and ad­e­quate fi­nanc­ing as well as es­tab­lish­ing an en­hanced con­sul­ta­tive fo­rum.



Deputy Pres­i­dent Wil­liam Ruto in Kesses, Uasin Gishu county yes­ter­day/


For­eign Af­fairs Cabi­net Sec­re­tary Amina Mo­hamed, Deputy Pres­i­dent Wil­liam Ruto and Ivory Coast Pres­i­dent Alas­sane Ou­at­tara at the Pres­i­den­tial Palace in Abid­jan on Tues­day last week

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