Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua's first year in office has been marked by several controversial statements that saw him become a subject of discussion on social and mainstream media.
The self-proclaimed truthful man is known for speaking his mind regardless of the consequences his statements may elicit.
In this article, we outline 5 controversial statements made by the DP for the time he's been in office:
Government is a Company
Speaking at an event in Kericho in February 2023, Gachagua claimed that the government is a company, noting that those who made a huge investment in it will reap big, while those who made little investment will not get much.
He said this in regards to regions that heavily rallied behind Kenya Kwanza in the 2022 general election. In his view, the regions should get more government appointments.
“This government is a company that has shares. There are owners who have the majority of shares, and those with just a few, while others do not have any. You invested in this government and you must reap. You sowed, tilled, put manure and irrigated, and now it is time to reap,” Gachagua announced.
The statement elicited debate in the country, prompting the DP to clarify that the statement was in regards to government appointments and not development.
Speaking in Siaya in October 2023, President William Ruto distanced himself from the shareholder statement, stating that no part of the country would be discriminated against during his reign.
Recalling Ambassadors Who Fail to Secure Markets Abroad
In September 2022, the DP made headlines after he stated Ambassadors and Kenya's High Commissioners would be required to secure markets for Kenyan produce, failure to which they would be recalled.
DP Gachagua argued that as Kenyan representatives abroad, ambassadors and high commissioners needed to do more than just attend events and enjoy meals.
"We want to move away from the traditional diplomacy of attending meetings, cocktails, barbecues and such. Seventy percent of their work will be to pursue commercial interests of our country, to market our agricultural produce, to make sure our exporters get the best deals," remarked Gachagua.
File image of DP Rigathi Gachagua. [Photo: Courtesy]
Return of Shamba System
Speaking in Baringo in September 2022, the DP appeared to support the return of the Shamba system, where communities living near forests are allocated forest plots and allowed to plant crops.
“There was a shamba system where residents could plant maize until the trees grow. We have made an order for wananchi to be allowed to cultivate in the forest for more food,” he said.
However, following uproar, DP Gachagua claimed he was misquoted and urged the media to be objective in its reporting.
"We want to tell the press that the campaign is over, report us objectively. When I was in Baringo I announced that we have a serious programme on afforestation. There is a lot of land within the forest reserve that has been earmarked for tree planting and we are going to mobilize farmers in the old spirit to assist us in planting new trees in those areas that have no trees and take care of them as they farm until the trees are of age.
"So when you twist it that we have said we are going to bring the farmers to come and farm in the forest that is in bad taste," he divulged.
Tigers in Kenya
During his visit to Colombia in September 2023, Gachagua became a topic of discussion after he said there are tigers in Kenya and urged investors and tourists to come and visit.
“As you come to invest in Kenya, we have many facilities for tourism. We have rare species of wildlife such as elephants, lions, buffaloes, and Tigers," Gachagua said.
His remark created a buzz in the country as there are no tigers in Kenya. Tigers are majorly found in the Asian continent.
When he returned to the country, the DP tried justifying his statement, arguing that in the Kikuyu community, Leopards and tigers are the same.
“From the Kikuyu nation where I come from, the leopard and the tiger are one and the same thing. When I said there are tigers I meant leopards," he stated.
El Nino funds
Speaking in Mombasa on 21 November 2023, DP Gachagua claimed that the government had released Ksh 10 billion to counties to mitigate the effects of the ongoing El Nino rains.
He appeared to hit out at Mombasa Governor Mombasa Governor Abdulswamad Nassir, claiming that the county boss had not done enough, despite receiving support from the national government.
"We don’t want to see any Governor blaming the national government for not distributing food. As the Governor, you also have money,” he said.
Governor Nassir, however, came out guns blazing and challenged the DP to provide evidence that counties had received money for El Nino.
The, DP, however, changed tune and stated that counties are expected to use funds in their accounts to counter the impacts of the heavy rains, adding that no funds will be sent by the government for that purpose.
"We are shocked when we see governors complaining that they are yet to receive money for El Nino from the national government. Such money is not forthcoming. They are expected to use emergency money within their financial provision and to re-allocate money within their budget to intervene for the people that they govern," the DP said.