The rebuke by Trade cabinet secretary Peter Munya on those calling for a meeting to pick Uhuru Kenyatta’s successor in Mt Kenya when his term expires in 2022 demonstrates the uneasiness in the region.
The Mt Kenya region finds itself in unfamiliar territory, without a
successor, with the eventual exit of Uhuru from politics upon the completion of his second term.
Several leaders are lining up to take over the mantle and become the region’s spokesperson among them former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth, former Kiambu governor William Kabogo, cabinet secretaries Mwangi Kiunjuri, Munya and a host of other wannabes.
Others are pushing for speaker of national assembly Justin Muturi to be the region’s pointman in Uhuru succession race and afterwards. Muturi is from Embu community.
These leaders, however, do not command a mass following and therefore face the challenge of galvanising the entire region behind them in order to gather the needed political influence in national politics.
The search for an influential spokesperson has formed the basis of political debate in recent months with many stating that Uhuru’s replacement should emerge naturally and not be forced down people’s throat.
As the search for a successor gains momentum, some leaders from the region have also trashed the political deal between the president and his deputy William Ruto that was to ensure the region supports Ruto’s 2022 presidential bid.
David Murathe one time Jubilee vice chairman, together with a section of former and current MPs, currently going by the name Kieleweke, are of the opinion that the region does not owe Ruto any debt.
But according to pundits, the group has trained its eyes on scuttling any plans to give DP Ruto a direct Jubilee party ticket to vie in the 2022 presidential election, with reports emerging that the anti-Ruto section is hellbent on fielding their own presidential candidate.
Politics, however, is a game of interests and it will be interesting to see which candidate the region will settle on to protect their interests beyond 2022.
Recently, Kiunjuri and Meru governor Kiraitu Murungi proposed that the region meets to pick a representative in Limuru.
Since 1966, Limuru town in Kiambu county has been the centre of regional politics.
The first conference came up with decisions to water down the powers of vice president Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and his eventual removal from the ruling party, Kanu.
There was no other meeting until 2012 when then deputy prime minister Uhuru was anointed the Mt Kenya leader.
At the time, Uhuru, alongside Ruto and four others were facing crimes against humanity charges at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands.
Seven years later and with the clock ticking towards the end of Uhuru presidency, leaders from the region are drumming up support for a “Limuru Three” summit to set the political agenda for the region.
According to Kiunjuri, time has come for members of Kiama kia Ma (Kikuyu elders), Njuri Ncheke (Meru elders), religious and political leaders to come together and set the post-2022 agenda for Mt Kenya region.
Whereas there seems to be a consensus that the region needs to have such a meeting, the leaders are divided on when it should take place.
While some believe it should be held soon, others say it should take place a year or less to the general election.
The leaders are in agreement that Mt Kenya is more divided politically than at any other time since 1992.
Two groups, Tanga Tanga and Kieleweke, pulling in different directions, have emerged.
The situation has left the region politically without direction.
Tanga Tanga is associated with leaders who support Ruto’s presidential bid while Kieleweke is opposed to that.
Since his reelection in 2017, Uhuru has reduced his tours to the region, confounding elected leaders.
On the other hand, Ruto has pitched camp in Mt Kenya in a bid to solidify his support base ahead of the election.
Kiunjuri and Murungi are seen as potential kingpins of the region.
Senate deputy speaker Kindiki Kithure who has good relations with the president and Ruto was also being touted as a possible leader but he seems to have run short of selfconfidence.
Mt Kenya has 10 counties.
Nominated MP Maina Kamanda who is the foremost leader of the Kieleweke group recently accompanied Baringo senator Gideon Moi, who for the first time joined the team opposed to Ruto’s presidential bid, to a church service in Meru.
They carried along MPs Maoka Maore, Gladys Wanga, Mercy Gakuya, William Kamket and former MP Silas Muriuki in the service.
They claimed their group aimed at drumming up support for the war against corruption and push for a referendum to boost cohesion in the country.
However, it was not lost to observers that the group was indirectly campaigning for Gideon, who has declared interest in the presidential seat in 2022.