More pressure on Ruto to quit

February 12, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 12 – Pressure is mounting on Agriculture Minister William Ruto to resign to allow investigations into the maize scandal.

Cabinet Minister Mutula Kilonzo said on Thursday that graft is negatively impacting on the government’s efforts to ensure quality service delivery to Kenyans.

“If I were honourable Ruto, I would resign. Because you have seen these appeals for food are driven by corruption. Kenya is not poor and I have no doubt in my mind that if we managed the simple resources that we have, we will be able to handle the famine,” he stated.

Mr Kilonzo said if the investigations clear Mr Ruto, then he should be reinstated.

“It would be far better if he said I step down like honourable Kimunya did for a month or so, so that the matter can be investigated when he is out of office,” he said.

“If a situation arises and doubts have been raised, you step back to allow for investigations. The President and Prime Minister no doubt will be able reinstate honourable Ruto.”

The Agriculture Minister had categorically stated that he would not resign, pointing out that his performance in the ministry was above board.

He had been put on the spot over allegations of impropriety in the trading in maize involving the National Cereals and Produce Board, which is in charge of maintaining strategic food reserves for the country.

The NCPB irregularly allocated maize to individuals, who then sold the commodity to millers at an inflated price occasioning a shortage in the market.

The shortage has seen at least 10 millions Kenyans facing starvation leading the government to issue a food aid appeal to the international community.

Mr Ruto said that he was proud of his performance at the Agriculture Ministry, daring anybody with any evidence of his involvement in any scandal to come forward with it.

He attributed recent allegations linking him to corruption at the ministry, to jealousy by his political enemies and some people who believe he should not be in that office.

The Minister had also defended the appointment of Mohammed Islam Ali, the boss of Mombasa Maize Millers to NCPB’s board, saying it was in line with the provisions of the NCPB Act.

The Minister had, however, acknowledged authorising his personal assistant Oscar Simanto to write a note to the head of NCPB, Dr Gideon Misoi, to release 1,000 bags of maize to a miller known as Robinson Mbugua Nene.


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