Ruto now denies he is owner of 15,000-acre ranch
Controversy regarding Deputy President William Ruto’s multi-billion-shilling estate deepened yesterday after he disowned some of the properties linked to him by Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i on Wednesday.
Ruto told a delegation from Nakuru county led by Senator Susan Kihika at his Karen residence that he did not own the 6,073-hectare (15,000-acre) ADC Mutara ranch in Laikipia County, as stated by Matiang’i.
“These OP people got about 70 per cent right but they got others wrong, like the ADC farm, I don’t own that one,” said the DP.
Tongue-in-cheek, Ruto said Matiang’i had helped him set the record straight on allegations that he owned the 680 Hotel and the Hotel Boulevard in Nairobi.
“They at least helped correct the reports that I own 680 hotel and Boulevard Hotel, which is not true,” he added.
Ruto’s assertions yesterday only added more mystery to the multi-billion-shilling empire he is believed to own following Matiang’i’s claims on Wednesday.
The Interior CS told a parliamentary committee that Ruto’s vast empire, including a 22,000-acre estate, five-helicopter hangars and several private homes, is protected by heavily armed police officers.
Matiang’i said six police officers were deployed at the Kitengela gas company owned by Ruto with four manning the 395-hectare (1,000-acre) Murumbi Farm in Transmara, Narok County.
The other listed properties guarded by police include Dolphin Hotel, Mombasa (LR. No. MN/1/3266)-3 Hectares (six), Mata Farm – Taita Taveta (LR. No.10287/10 & 11) 2,537 Hectares (6,300-acre) that has six officers, private residence Elgon View Eldoret (four), Koitalel Poultry Farm Eldoret (four), private residence in Kosachei Eldoret (three prison officer, one AP).
The CS also revealed that Kwae Island Development Ltd – Wilson Airport with two Hangers and five helicopters has five officers manning the facility with four others manning the nearby Weston Hotel on Lang’ata Road.
Incidentally most of the mentioned properties have either been acquired controversially or sparked outrage from local communities.
For instance, the Hangars at Wilson airport are said to have been constructed inside the airport on government land.
Although the DP is not a director of Kwae Island that operates the hangars and choppers, the state secures its facilities since the helicopters are linked to Ruto.
Of all the Ruto properties, Weston has hit the news headlines most with a pending case in court in which the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) seeks to repossess the land.
In 2019, the National Land Commission determined that Weston grabbed the land from KCAA’s predecessor DCA but ordered Ruto to compensate KCAA. However, the agency rejected the directive and moved to the High Court.
In January 2015, Weston hit the headlines both locally and internationally after a contingent of police officers threw teargas canisters at Lang’ata Road Primary School pupils who were protesting a move to fence off their playground.
Weston was said to be eying the playground for use as a parking lot but the move was thwarted when the government reclaimed the plot.
The hotel denied any links to the grabbing attempt in an incident where then Lands Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu declined to mention the grabber.
However, as Kitui governor, Ngilu has openly linked Ruto to the attempted grabbing but the DP has never responded.
Number of scandals
Last week, Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka offer himself for investigations concerning a number of scandals that are in public domain after the DP accused him of grabbing Yatta farm from NYS.
“I demand, on behalf of Kenyans, that the DP subjects himself to a transparent lifestyle audit on all the pieces of land he owns,” Kalonzo said.
In October 2019, a local newspaper reported that a lobby group wanted the DP investigated over what they termed as an irregular acquisition of Murumbi Farm, a vast ranch near the Masai Mara National Reserve.
The DP dismissed the story while claiming the media was being used as a tool to tarnish his name.
“The now persistent, obviously sponsored fake news by hired bankrupt media that finds it difficult to make a sale without the name Ruto. Bure Kabisa. Riswa!” he tweeted.
Last year, Ruto was sucked into yet another controversy, with residents of a village in Taita Taveta County accusing him of diverting their public water to his expansive ranch which was among the ones listed by Matiang’i.
Upon acquisition, according to media reports, Ruto first fortified the 2,537-acre farm by erecting an electric fence to keep off squatters before embarking on livestock farming and planting pasture for the animals.
Ruto is said to have diverted the main water pipeline that serves the location to his farm, denying more than 300 households water and forcing them to walk long distances in search of the commodity.
This forced the Taita Taveta government to move to court to secure orders to access the farm and open the water source.
In 2015, newspapers reported that as conflict over pasture in Laikipia County escalates, questions emerged about the ownership of a vast ranch leased out to an influential individual by the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC).
Word on the ground is that the ranch, along the Rumuruti-Nanyuki road, was acquired in 2015 by a top government official.
There is heavy presence of armed police officers deployed inside the enormous ranch to provide 24-hour security. Matiang’i has now disclosed that the top government official is Ruto.
Just like in Taita Taveta County, locals also staged a protest around that time claiming their source of water and pasture for their livestock had been sealed off.
In 2018, it was revealed that the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) controversially allowed Weston Hotel to extend Dolphin Hotel’s construction into the Indian Ocean, thereby encroaching on the beach. The extension was approved under reference NEMA/EIA/PSR/6347.
Dolphin was in the news in August 2018, when two journalists were roughed up for recording operations around its construction as residents protested.
Mombasa County then began its own investigations that led to the stalling of construction with the Hassan Joho administration accusing Ruto of shifting the beachline.
In 2017, the construction was stopped after regulations regarding disposal of waste from the site were breached. The county said debris was dumped on the roadside.
Contractor Avco Agencies Limited was ordered to stop operations but still went on.
But in a response yesterday, Ruto through his Director of Communications David Mugonyi, accused the CS of peddling falsehoods against him.
“Matiang’i has conducted himself in a manner totally unbecoming of the holder of such high office and has attempted to profile the DP as ineligible to receive services from his ministry,” Mugonyi wrote.
“To underscore Matiang’i’s recklessness, many properties allocated to the Deputy President in his statement to Parliament are in fact not his.
To add insult to injury, Matiang’i asserts that he has deployed security officers to these unknown strange properties.
In any event, the Deputy President went on record as early as 2018 to announce his readiness to undergo a lifestyle audit per the President’s directive.
This false association with strange and fictitious properties is therefore unnecessary and malicious,” Mugonyi wrote.