Ruto's Interview With Citizen TV's Joe Ageyo Elicits Debate

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    Photo collage of Deputy President William Ruto (left) and Citizen TV's Editorial Director Joe Ageyo (right)
  • The interview between Citizen TV’s Editorial Director Joe Ageyo and Deputy President William Ruto on Thursday, December 3 elicited sharp debate, particularly on social media as netizens expressed robust opinions on the conduct of the guest and the host. 

    The interview was held at Ruto's official residence in Karen with their discussion centring majorly on the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) process. 

    A section of Kenyans, many of them Ruto's supporters, accused Joe Ageyo of being biased and pushing the DP to oppose the BBI referendum. Ruto was categorical that he would not oppose the project but would push for what he described as consensus on the issues. 

    Another section lauded Ageyo for his calm composed nature and urging Ruto to answer and explain his questions. The duo argued on some answers Ruto gave, with Ageyo intimating that the DP was circumventing around responses. 

    "The BBI is operating without a legal framework. Yes I participated in nominating the BBI task force, but we had no plans for changing the constitution," Ruto said.

    Joe Ageyo interviews Deputy President William Ruto (right) at the DP's Karen, Nairobi home on Thursday, December 3, 2020

    At that point, Ageyo inquired on whether the DP meant that the BBI was illegal. He explained that no legal framework meant that the project was being pushed outside the law confinements. 

    "Those are your words and not mine. I am only referring to the framework," Ruto answered back vaguely. 

    Another visible issue was the fundamentals of the BBI. Ageyo and Ruto differed on how a multiple-choice referendum would be carried out. Ruto said that he was keen on pushing for a model that had been used in different countries as opposed to the No versus Yes referendum. 

    "Joe, you are not a legal expert. That's why you are talking like you are. Experts can be able to package the sections that go together. Liberia is voting on a multiple-choice referendum in December, New Zealand, Switzerland, Peru, US have done it. It is not something far-fetched," Ruto hit back. 

    The relationship between the DP and President Uhuru Kenyatta also surfaced. Ageyo pushed him to explain whether Kenyatta shortchanged him in formulating BBI proposals. Ruto had claimed that the BBI team had been tasked with hatching strategies on uniting the country and not changing the constitution. 

    "The President has never told anybody that I have absconded duty neither have I complained that I have a problem with him. The relationship between the President and I is not a subject of any discussion. He is my boss and you never discuss your boss," Ruto responded as the took went silent for over a minute. 

    Kenyans shared their sentiments regarding the interview. Radio Africa journalist Oliver Mathenge accusing Ageyo of failing to do his homework before conducting the interview.

    "When doing interviews related to law, you must do a lot of homework. How do you ask what is a multiple question referendum? He could have even googled before the interview," he reacted. 

    Citizen TV Editorial Director Joe Ageyo (left) with DP William Ruto (right) at Karen, Nairobi on Thursday, December 3, 2020

    "Interviewers need to learn Political Psychology. Interviewers in Kenya ask questions with an expected answer in mind. They never ask questions to listen nor understand," Wanjiru Kung'u added. 

    Political analyst David Makali differed, saying Ageyo was right to ask simple questions. "When you are not the originator of a phrase or didn't coin the concept, you let the owner explain what he meant. You don't presume to know. That's excellent journalism. Words are given meaning by the context of their usage, especially if controversial," he responded.

    Others felt that Ruto was not forthright with his answers adding that he kept deviating from Ageyo's questions.