President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday, October 18, termed Sonko’s “acting President” remark as a non-issue that should not be given much prominence by media.
Speaking at State House Nairobi, where the President hosted the Accountability Summit – a convention which brought together different stakeholders in the media, clergy, security department, government agencies, business community to discuss perennial and emerging issues like corruption and insecurity respectively –, Uhuru said regardless where he is, he remains the elected President of the Republic of Kenya – so long as he is still in office.
“Don’t bother about what people say at funerals, weddings and all these other issues. I have only on one occasion left the office of Presidency. Whether I am in Togo, I am still President of the Republic of Kenya. Only once when some people took me to some funny court out there and I signed a piece of paper, leaving my deputy (William Ruto) to act as President; any other occasion, wacha media waseme vile wanataka kusema (Let the media report what they want).
“Don’t be bothered about small things my friend. Tunaelewana (Are we together on that)? So this is the President speaking, and he is speaking from Nairobi; whether he was in Togo, he was in charge,” said President Kenyatta to the applause of the convention attendees.
The President was reacting to moderator Jeff Koinange’s banter: “It is really good to see you coming from Togo, and the Deputy President from France because a guy was saying that he is third in command… (I am kidding).”
President Kenyatta called out sections of society for judging the executive harshly when it comes to the executive’s commitment to the fight against corruption, saying he has done all he can within the Constitution as Head of State to curtail the perennial cancer of graft.
“When it comes to this issue of corruption that has been at the centre stage of Kenyan public debate, it has frustrated me as President. And I would say why: because the pressure is on me to do something about corruption. I then sit back and ask: show me an administration, since independence, that has tackled corruption like I have done. I have removed everybody who has ever been named or touched upon on the issue of corruption,” he said.
President Kenyatta said despite his efforts to tackle graft, other state agencies mandated to support the executive are ostensibly “sleeping on the job”.
“I have done my part, at great expense – political. I have told them to step aside, and they have done it; whether guilty or innocent, I suspend them for three months until investigations are concluded. By the way that pronouncement by itself is unconstitutional. I have no power (to suspend them). (They then ask) where do we go to from there? I tell them I don’t know. I wish there was a way guilty persons could be charged, but nothing! We set up a multi-agency so that we can coordinate our affairs, still no movement; I sit with the Chief Justice and say: ‘please why don’t we expedite this?’ still no movement. I have taken the actions that I can take within the Constitution. I have given all agencies resources to fight corruption, and I challenge any agency to come out and say that I haven’t given them the resources. I stand accused that the executive is not doing its work. What do you want me to do?” posed President Kenyatta.
The Head of State has, however, urged Kenyans to voice their grievances in a civilized manner so that an amicable solution can be reached.
“If people discuss what the problems are, we will always get solutions. We don’t need to shout out there. Let’s talk to each other, let us find solutions, let us not beat each other,” he said.