The man who debated himself: 2 claims by Kenya presidency hopeful rated

In Kenya, six running-mates to presidential candidates were expected for a live debate at Nairobi’s Catholic University on 17 July. Only one took to the podium. Did Muthiora Eliud Kariara have his facts right? We checked.

Ahead of Kenya’s general election in early August, eight TV stations and over 30 radio stations got together to organise a series of debates for the presidential candidates and their running-mates.

The first debate on 10 July failed to take off after the eight presidential candidates claimed they were not consulted. The organisers then cancelled it.

For the second debate on 17 July, for running mates, only one candidate turned up: Muthiora Eliud Kariara, who is on the ticket of Dr Japheth Kavinga Kaluyu. Instead of a debate, he had the floor for 52 minutes of prime broadcasting time.

The former student leader, who said he was once a pig farmer and a banker, is vying on an independent ticket.

While Kariara spoke in general terms – much like the seasoned politician he isn’t – we isolated two factual claims he made on his night of fame.  

Africa Check contacted Kariara for the evidence that underpinned his claims. He promised to send a detailed response via email but hadn’t done so by the time of publishing this report. (Note: We will update this report when he does.)


“…the number one forex earner in Kenya today is remittances from the diaspora.”



Eliud Muthiora Kariara.
Eliud Muthiora Kariara.

Despite his ticket-mate working in the United States and sending money home to support his family, he is “very much in touch with what is happening in Kenya”, Kariara said during the broadcast.

“It is not like he’s coming to learn about what Kenya’s problems are,” he added.

Kenyans living abroad sent back home an estimated $1.6 billion (KSh160 billion) in 2015, according to the World Bank’s Migration and Remittances factbook for 2016. It contains information on diaspora remittances, immigration and migration for 214 countries and territories. This is gathered from the balance of payments statistics database of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank data obtained from central banks and statistical offices websites.

Using the Central Bank of Kenya’s data on diaspora remittances, Africa Check calculated that in 2016, money remitted had increased to KSh172 billion.

The country’s latest Economic Survey showed that tea was Kenya’s number one export in 2015 and in 2016, earning KSh123 billion and KSh124.5 billion in forex in each year. The next biggest export, horticulture, brought in KSh101 billion in 2015 and KSh110 billion in 2016.

Diaspora remittances are therefore the clear forex winner – something that the Central Bank had also reportedly confirmed previously.


“Our unemployment [rate] is over 40%…”



Kariara promised that should he and Kaluyu win the election, they would halve Kenya’s unemployment rate of “over 40%”.But is it true that two out of every five people in Kenya who qualify for jobs are unemployed?

The most recent data on unemployment is a labour force analysis by the Kenya statistics agency, based on 2009 census data. Released in 2012, it put the overall unemployment rate at 9.7% then. (Note: The statistics agency defines the unemployment rate as the proportion of the labour force that does not have a job and is actively looking for work.)

A report with the latest unemployment data is being finalised, James Gatungu, the director of production statistics at the agency recently told Africa Check.

The World Bank’s datasets, modelled from International Labour Organisation numbers, estimated that 11% of Kenya’s total workforce was unemployed in 2016.

No evidence backs up Kariara’s claim that the unemployment rate in Kenya is over 40%. We therefore rate it incorrect.


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