, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 4 – Eldoret North MP William Ruto has challenged political parties to aspire to address the problems that affect the country, like food security and unemployment among the youth.
Ruto who spoke during the official launch of a national recruitment drive for members of the United Democratic Movement (UDM) particularly hit out at the labor intensive component of the Kazi Kwa Vijana program saying that the country in this age needed knowledge intensive programs to help the youth.
“In an age where we are talking about computers and knowledge based economies, surely Kenya shouldn’t be arming its youth with pangas (machetes) and hoes to dig trenches and clear bushes, that is not the youth empowerment in the 21st century,” said Ruto of a program that has seen pressure mount on Prime Minister Raila Odinga to take political responsibility over alleged misappropriations of funds allocated to it.
“We have very serious problems in our country and we can solve them; as parties we have to respond to these challenges through our programmes and in our manifestos chief of them being the challenge of hunger.
“We must tackle head-on the challenge of youth empowerment; a clearly thought out comprehensive program for youth empowerment is necessary for any party to aspire for any form of leadership,” he further said.
Although Ruto did not register as a member of the party, he said that it will be his preferred vehicle in the next general election saying that it was only a matter of time before he decamped from ODM where his relationship wit the party leader, Prime Minister Raila Odinga has soured.
Other members of ODM allied to the former Cabinet Minister have also indicated willingness to join the party in the run up to the elections.
Ruto has called on political parties as primary democratic institutions to henceforth set the standards for democracy in the country by allowing for competition and open mindedness in line with the political parties act.
“Democracy in our country is going to be measured by democracy in political parties; days when parties were the property of individuals to be folded and kept in briefcases are now gone, parties are now public institutions and managed by a law because they will be expending public money,” he reiterated.
Party chairman Joseph Chirchir, whose position has attracted interest including from former speaker Francis Ole Kaparo, asserted that the position will be open for contention in party elections after the recruitment of members.
“After the recruitment in all counties we will have elections for all party officials, I welcome everybody who is interested in this position to show up then,” Chirchir said adding that only the party’s national delegates will choose the party’s presidential candidate.
Kaparo has been proposed for the post of chairman of the United Democratic Movement (UDM), a move that has upset some of the current officials.
The UDM party has already prepared 100,000 cards targeting at least 2,000 members in the 47 counties.
A case by former Army chief Lt-Gen John Koech seeking to oust Chirchir as chairman of the party is already in court and pending determination.
Other current officials of UDM are Secretary General Martin ole Kamwaro, deputy chairman Charfano Moku, five vice chairmen Tom Ikwenya, Milicent Nyaboke, Philemon Koech, Hamed Balala and Paul Cheboi. Yusuf Abdi is the national treasurer, Joseph Lagat the organising secretary and Machache Majembe the youth league chairman.