DP Ruto’s opposition to the Ksh4B small arms factory elicits mixed reactions
Deputy President William Ruto’s open and direct questioning of the Jubilee administration’s financial wisdom in investing Ksh.4b in a small arms manufacturing plant has elicited varied reactions.
Ruto, in an interview on Wednesday used the arms investment to demonstrate why the government should have instead invested in labour-intensive projects that would create more job opportunities.
But while launching the project back in April, President Uhuru Kenyatta termed it a game changer in the country’s security management, while Interior Affairs Cabinet Secretary Dr. Fred Matiang’i said it would decisively eliminate brokers from the arms supply chain.
The Ksh.4B small arms factory launched in Ruiru by President Uhuru Kenyatta three months ago became the first Jubilee administration mega project whose economic sense was questioned by deputy president William Ruto, as he pushed for his ‘bottom-up’ economic model.
“Hiyo 4b na hiyo kampuni inaajiri watt mia moja. Kama tungeweka a different investment hiyo 4b kwa manufacturing Katika informal sector, tungetengeneza nafasi za Kazi elfu ishirini,” Ruto said on Thursday.
His criticism of the project confirming his deteriorating relationship with President Kenyatta and his status as an outsider in the government he helped establish after the 2013 and 2017 General Election.
On the 8th of April 2021, an upbeat President Kenyatta took a tour of a facility of its kind, mingling with officials and workers at a factory meant to revolutionize the country’s standing with security weaponry.
The small arms factory, at the moment targeting to produce 12,000 units of CMZ-4 assault rifle, a Kenyan rifle of 45 by 5.56 millimetre calibre.
The government citing the erratic nature of the international weapons trade that compromises Kenya’s interests.
“This is a game changer. Since independence Kenya has always relied on imports for our firearms requirements with only our Kenya ordinates factory providing a minimal capacity,” President Kenyatta said.
The arms supply business is one of the most lucrative and sought after by business persons and brokers.
The arms plant in Ruiru, Kiambu county was established through use of local expertise, and according to the president, saved the taxpayer more than ksh.11b. An initial quote of ksh.15b was slashed to ksh.4b…
“People briefcase carriers hover around, people at Harambee house move around to get tenders to supply guns, equipment, and when that equipment gets here, it’s probably twice or thrice the actual cost. To the loss of taxpayer.” Interior CS Fred Matiangi said.
However, according to the deputy president, it would have been more prudent to invest the Ksh.4b in an enterprise that would directly benefit more job seekers…
“kama ungeweka the same money kwa housing ,it would have created 5,000 jobs…” Ruto argued.
But the interior cabinet secretary holds that the factory would eliminate cartels and middlemen who for years have dominated the security sector by supplying arms, uniforms and other equipment at exorbitant prices.
“This will give us capacity and for the life of all of us we will say goodbye to people who stress us trying to sell us guns, and the time it takes us to get them here,” CS Matiangi said.
The tale of one strategic investment that has split the top two officials in government that has now come into focus in the Kenyatta succession politics. Of a deputy who feels government projects ought to be labour-intensive.
“That’s why I am saying unahitaji kubadilisha sera kama uko na pesa kiasi fulani, utawekeza wapi upate nafasi kubwa ya kutengeneza kazi au biashara,” the DP said.
When asked to clarify whether he is opposed to the Ruiru plant a day after the revealing interview with Inooro fm, Ruto responded.
“I’d recommend… It’s available on YouTube. I did not oppose, neither am I trying to run away from anything,” DP Ruto added.