There is more than meets the eye in the postponement of William Ruto’s tour of the three counties of Ukambani last week.
Although the postponement was attributed to the suspension of public meetings announced by Uhuru Kenyatta in face of increasing Covid-19 cases, there were those who were perplexed to see Ruto in a church function in Nyahururu on the day he had been to start the tour of Ukambani, hence raising the question as to whether the suspension only affected Ukambani. Those who say that there is nothing to read from the Ruto visit to Nyahururu, however, say that the Ukambani tour was going to be massive public rallies while the Nyahururu visit was in a church where movement and interaction are controlled.
It is a point of view not shared by everyone with those who do not go with it explaining that the real reason Ruto cancelled his Ukambani tour was that there has exploded fierce infighting between his top supporters in the region. So bad is the situation that MPs from Ukambani kept off a Ruto meeting at Karen where Ruto was to meet Kamba leaders. When Ruto called the MPs to ask where they were, they said that they were not comfortable with Muthama because he was bullying them. Before Ruto’s Hustler Movement started having traction in the country and was merely dismissed as Tangatanga, Ruto’s most prominent point men in the region were Machakos Town MP Victor Munyaka, Mwala MP Vincent Musyoka, Kitui East MP Nimrod Mbai and Kangundo’s Fabian Kyule.
It must be noted that the MPs never made any impact on the general public apart from their occasional announcement at funerals that area political supremo Kalonzo Musyoka should hitch his horse onto Ruto’s bandwagon. Enter Johnson Muthama and everything changed instantly overnight with the Ruto axis in the region suddenly seeming to get a new lease of life. As is usual with Muthama, a man not known for half measures, he went full throttle to the front of the Ruto campaign train and has since not looked back with Munyaka now forced to play second fiddle. Indeed, ever since the entry of Muthama to Ruto’s campaign, nothing has been heard of Munyaka and Musyoka as far as selling Ruto in Ukambani goes.
Probably, because Muthama is running at a pace they find too fast for them to keep up with the two are now reportedly quietly accusing Muthama of hijacking the Ruto campaigns in Ukambani. According to sources, the Munyaka team has now been relegated to being spectators in a game that they started. Those in the know, however, say that the fighting is all about the money that the MPs had been getting in the name of pushing Ruto’s agenda in Ukambani which now has not been forthcoming as Muthama reportedly tells Ruto that he will take care of Ruto’s Ukambani campaigns financially.
Munyaka and group were also eyeing a Ruto windfall come the campaigns proper as they would have been the ones controlling the goings-on for him but they now fear that it is Muthama who is going to be in charge of the campaign. There are claims that Muthama received Sh3m from Ruto to woo Kambas in Msambweni to vote for the independent candidate Feisal Bader but he left out the Kamba MPs and took Bonnie Khalwale and Omar Hassan. After realizing that the MPs were not happy, Ruto arranged a meeting with them at Karen where they took a delegation of 650 people and were given Sh4m that they shared amongst themselves with each carrying Sh3500 former minister Gideon Ndambuki included.
To his credit, Muthama has been hosting delegations from across Ukambani at his Mua Hills home where they strategize on how to take the Ruto gospel to the ground. At every meeting, Muthama never fails to take the opportunity to tell the visitors how he has more money than Ruto and hence, he does not have to ask for money from Ruto. It is this Muthama verbosity and his boldness to attack Raila Odinga and Kalonzo that is earning him more marks in Ruto’s scorecard than the MPs who have even now stopped backing Muthama for governor of Machakos. With Muthama talking in this manner, the Ruto old team fears that the DP will stop funding them believing that Muthama will do so.
As number two to Kalonzo politically in Ukambani, it would be expected that Muthama’s impact would be much felt than Munyaka whose weight in Ukambani politics is not much more than that of a ward MCA when it comes to national politics. As much as he is a Johnnie-come-lately therefore, Muthama is as big a catch as they get for Ruto and it is not likely that Ruto will want to make Muthama the chief. Incidentally, Munyaka is Muthama’s neighbour in Mua but he has not been to any of the delegates meetings that Muthama hosts at his home. Another political heavyweight to join the Ruto axis is Makueni governor Kivutha Kibwana who has reportedly impressed Ruto with his boldness to defend Ruto as he did in the funeral of Nzamba Kitonga where he told Raila and Kalonzo that they should stop hoodwinking Kenyans that they are advocating for inclusivity when they are openly trying to isolate Ruto.
Unable to resist the bait, Raila when he stood up threw all manner of barbs on Ruto making nonsense of his claims that the so-called Building Bridges Initiative is aimed at resolving political differences. Raila in his attacks on Ruto had mourners murmuring as it is not known in Ukambani to attack others at funerals because funerals in the first place remind people that they will end up dead and so there is no need of feeling better than anyone. Should the BBI amendments see the light of the day and become law, it goes without saying that Kivutha would be one of the big five players in the Ruto team.
It will be interesting to see how Muthama and Kivutha will be accommodated in the Ruto camp without any feeling that he is being denied the position that he deserves. Could this shape up to be the next point of friction for the Ruto camp in Ukambani? This is also the question being asked of the Kalonzo, Raila, Uhuru Kenyatta side where it is said that Kalonzo will soon to contend with the presence of Kitui governor Charity Ngilu whom Raila is wooing to his side with a promise of a top-five position. Kalonzo is also eyeing a top position in the same setup where he hopes Uhuru will push his agenda for him in this regard. Raila is said to be scheming to use Ngilu just as he used her in 2007 to give his coalition a national image.