Isaac Ruto Biography and Profile
Isaac Ruto is a Kenyan politician and the governor of Bomet county, alongside deputy governor Stephen Mutai. He was a member of the United Republican Party but currently working on publicizing his new party Chama Cha Mashinani(CCM).
Isaac Ruto is a former Chairman of the council of Governors. He hails from Tumoi, Sigor in Chepalungu District and studied political science at the University of Nairobi. While at university, Isaac Ruto became a student activist opposing policies of President Daniel arap Moi and thus came to be detained along with other student activists following the coup d’état attempt of 1982.
Isaac Ruto Political Position
Current Political Positions
April 2013 – Chairman of the Council of Governors (a body set up by the Intergovernmental Relations Act 2012 to encourage consultation and cooperation between the national and county governments, and between county governments themselves.)
March 2013 – Up to date : Governor for Bomet county
Previous Political Positions
2007 – 2013 : Member of Parliament for Chepalungu constituency
2002 – 2007 : Member of Parliament for Chepalungu constituency
2001 – 2002 : Minister of Environment and Natural Resources
1999- 2001 : Assistant Minister to the Ministry of Agriculture
1998 – 1999 : Assistant Minister to the Ministry of Education
1997 – 2002 : Member of Parliament for Chepalungu constituency
Isaac Ruto Committee Membership
2007- 2013: Member of the Administration of Justice and Legal Affairs Committee.
2008 – 2010 : Member of the Select Committee on Constitutional Review, supporting the formulation of the draft Kenyan constitution, which included strong provisions for devolved governance and was approved by 67 percent of Kenyans in an August 2010 referendum.
Isaac Ruto Family, Wife and Children
Isaac Ruto is married and has children. His daughter Emmy Chepng’etich Ruto died in 2014.
Isaac Ruto Interview
Interviewer : You were the choirmaster in the song “Don’t be Vague Let us Go to the Hague”. Do you still stand by your chorus?
Isaac Ruto : I was preventing war. The issue then was whether to establish a local tribunal or not. My argument then was that the plan to establish the tribunals in Eldoret and Kericho would have seen hundreds of youths arrested because there were video clips. The rest would have taken up arms. I said then even if it meant some of us being taken to The Hague, so be it. I did it to prevent harassment of our youth.
Interviewer : Your enemies say you should have been on the Ocampo list. How did you miss out?
Isaac Ruto : That is ridiculous. My constituency, Chepalungu, was one of the most peaceful during the violence. Together with Lorna Laboso and former Borabu MP Wilfred Ombui, we were active in reconciling the Kisii and the Kipsigis on the Borabu-Sotik border. I have never believed in violence.
Interviewer : At least 40 MPs have declared they are going to put in motion efforts to have you impeached over the mission to Homa Bay recently.
Isaac Ruto : I am in very familiar waters. I have gone through worse in my 20-year political career. Removing a governor is no mean feat. It can’t be done on political whims.
A governor is not bound by the provisions of Article 103, which says a member of Parliament can lose his seat if removed from his party. It does not apply to governors. I would continue as governor even if they were to remove me from the United Republican Party (URP).
Interviewer : What is the quarrel?
Isaac Ruto : The bureaucrats in the national government are misadvising that money given to the counties in the 14 devolved functions should be retained at the centre.
Interviewer : You laid the ground for the Kalenjin to get out of ODM. Are you on a similar mission?
Isaac Ruto : I am in Jubilee to stay and the issues I am raising are close to my heart. What I said in Homa Bay was that the people of Nyanza were the people of Kenya. That is a fact. I said we must develop a culture of working together after elections.
Interviewer : So why did you go to Homa Bay?
Isaac Ruto : To raise funds for a church. I was returning a favour after Governor Cyprian Awiti visited Bomet. I have no apologies to make to anyone. I can even go to Siaya tomorrow, then Machakos and any other place in Kenya.
Interviewer : There are those who say your activities are advancing Cord’s interests.
Isaac Ruto : I have not talked to any Cord operative, but governors do not work on party agenda. I work with all the 47 governors. We have the people. I have not fought the government. How can a head of government fight his own government?
Interviewer : In Kalenjin Rift Valley, you have been nicknamed Atiech I? Kipsigis for ‘spoiler’. You appear to be set for muddy the waters with Uhuru and William Ruto over devolution.
Isaac Ruto : What I am defending is in the Jubilee manifesto. I am the Bomet Governor under URP and Jubilee. If they are not careful, they will divide the Kalenjin down the middle.
Those MPs who are trying to sabotage devolution are the ones making Jubilee unpopular. They claim to be digital, but it seems the software is analogue. Do those MPs know how Jubilee was formed? These are people we gave tickets.
Interviewer : How far are you prepared to go with your mission?
Isaac Ruto : The whole hog. I am ready.
Interviewer : Samoei is the leader of the Kalenjin. From where do you summon the courage to throw a spear into his court?
Isaac Ruto: I don’t know where Ruto is coming in. Does he not support devolution? If he is not, he has to come clear and explain to the people. Is he the one sending the MPs to insult me?
Interviewer : Has he asked you to go slow?
Isaac Ruto : I don’t know whether telling MPs to abuse me is intervening. That is a divisive approach, but I can assure them that I am carrying on with the referendum. (Senators and Governors want to amend Article 95 of the Constitution that gives the National Assembly veto powers over the Division of Revenue Bill.)
Interviewer : Senator Boni Khalwale is introducing a Bill to amend the National Flag, Emblems and Names Act to prevent governors from flying the national flags outside their jurisdictions. The Bill also ranks Governors below Senators in the power hierarchy. Are Governors being cut to size?
Isaac Ruto : I don’t want to get into argument with Khalwale because he is very petty. However, I believe nobody should monopolise the national flag or overpromote the use of local symbols. That would not be good for cohesion.
Interviewer : MPs recently described Governors as imperial mini-presidents. Are Governors drunk with power?
Isaac Ruto : They are presidents of their counties. Governors are heads of their governments. They have a Cabinet and a civil service. The Constitution says the country will have the national government and 47 county governments and their territorial integrity must be respected.
Interviewer : Your colleagues have been criticised for outrageous spending, part of which borders on obscenity, such as allocating Sh50 million to fight pornography.
Isaac Ruto : Where did that happen? Don’t tell me about that propaganda from Bungoma. I have even heard they are next going to Bomet to unleash more falsehoods.
Interviewer : As Cabinet minister in 2001, President Moi abandoned you in a South African airport runway in a winter morning. What happened?
Isaac Ruto : I had been in Pretoria for two weeks on government business. I heard that he had sacked (then VP) George Saitoti and Kalonzo Musyoka. When he arrived in Pretoria, I asked him: “If you sack these guys, won’t it complicate matters for our Kanu candidate?
What if Saitoti runs? I was in the room with Nicholas Biwott and Moi. A phone rang and I left the room. Later Biwott called me to ask whether I was the leader of Kanu in Kenya and I told him to go to hell. In the evening, I sent my bags to the cargo section but they were returned.
The next morning, I tried to board the plane on our way to Nairobi but I was denied access. Moi and his delegation flew back. I was left on the tarmac. I was stranded for a few more days before I raised funds for fare back home.
Interviewer : You were detained for three months in the aftermath of the 1982 coup attempt. Did you support efforts to remove Moi from power?
Isaac Ruto : Not really. Neither was I his enthusiastic supporter. We were the student leadership that came after the radical Sonu had been proscribed. (Tito) Adungosi and I both came from poor families and we didn’t want to jeopardise our education by supporting subversive activities.
I was very close to Adungosi and I know he was not even aware there was going to be a coup attempt. He adored Moi and was the only student leader with President Moi’s portrait in his room.
Interviewer : Could this be the reason why students burnt your room accusing you of being a Moi spy?
Isaac Ruto : No, no, no. Nothing of the sort happened. It was J.B. Muturi’s room that was burnt. (Mr Muturi is the Speaker of the National Assembly).
Interviewer : Why?
Isaac Ruto : Ha ha ha. No. That is a story for another day. I am not going to tell you. Go and find out for yourselves.
Interviewer : You fought Moi, Raila and now you have taken on Uhuru and Ruto. Who radicalised you?
Isaac Ruto : I couldn’t point to any particular person. I was a student when the University of Nairobi was heavily radicalised.
Interviewer : Which are some of the books you would say have shaped the man you are today?
Isaac Ruto : As a student of political science, I got to read a lot of Karl Marx and I was fascinated with historical materialism and dialectics. I was inspired by Franz Fannon’s The Wretched Of The Earth, literature on civil rights crusader Malcolm X and Latin American revolutionaries.
Interviewer : The job of a governor is tedious. Do you get time to read?
Isaac Ruto : Yes I still read, but now mainly books on leadership. I spend between Sh 10,000 and Sh 20,000 on books whenever I travel. I have a big library in Bomet.
Interviewer : What are you reading now?
Isaac Ruto : The Heart Of Leadership: Becoming A Leader People Want To Follow by Mark Miller. I have also read Bennis Warren’s On Becoming a Leader. The author argues that leaders are not born — they are made.
Interviewer : Which Kenyan author do you read?
Isaac Ruto : Since Ngugi stopped churning out his serious novels and revolutionary works, I have not seen any Kenyan reader worth my time.
Interviewer : Koigi wa Wamwere last week told us that the Uhuru-Ruto government is an alliance between two tribes and is therefore unlikely to unite the country. You must have a view.
Isaac Ruto : The two groups, which have been fighting before, were supposed to be the core, but the rest of the country has to be brought in. You can’t rubbish Ukambani, Luo Nyanza, Luhyia, Coast and the rest of the regions.
Interviewer : If you were in Uhuru and Ruto’s shoes, how differently would you have managed the teachers’ strike?
Isaac Ruto : I would have withdrawn the court case. You can’t criminalise strikes as they are an integral part of labour relations. A worker has the right to withdraw his or her labour and negotiate. We don’t even pay our drivers what teachers are earning.
Interviewer : And how should they treat Raila?
Isaac Ruto : We need to respect our leaders. I am not saying this because I have specific sympathies for Raila, but as a standard practice, which should be applied across the board for all of us when we retire.
Maybe he shouldn’t be treated exactly like Kibaki and Moi because he hasn’t retired, but he should be accorded respect. Belittling our retired leaders would create Musevenis and Mugabes in Kenya where nobody will be willing to release the reins of power. Uhuru and Ruto should be magnanimous in power.