Murang’a factor in now hot Uhuru succession power game

Murang’a factor in now hot Uhuru succession power game

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An outcry has greeted Uhuru Kenyatta’s decision to drop Murang’a senator Irungu Kang’ata as senate majority whip and replace him with his Kiambu counterpart Kimani Wamatangi.

Irungu Kang’ata

The decision has irked Murang’ans who feel the president is now sidelining the region that voted him to a man in the past two general elections. Murang’a voters say it is payback time from their Kiambu and Nyeri brothers with whom they have always stood with during Jomo Kenyatta, Mwai Kibaki and Uhuru eras. Murang’a people are fronting for Peter Kenneth to carry the political mantle of the Kikuyu community in Uhuru succession matrix.

The residents are also unhappy that the president replaced Kang’ata with Wamatangi who comes from the same county as him. But insiders within Uhuru inner core say the president has a soft spot for Murang’a voters, and wants Kenneth to take over from him but unfortunately, politicians elected from the country are openly fighting his regime backing his deputy William Ruto. Kang’ata who took over the seat after Nakuru senator Susan Kihika was dewhipped for associating with Ruto during a Jubilee coalition parliamentary group meeting held at KICC in Nairobi.

The party secretary general Raphael Tuju stated that Kang’ata had lost the trust of his senate leaders for leaking confidential information. Tuju claimed Kang’ata had been leaking party secrets and cannot be trusted any more. “Senator Kang’ata has tried to create a narrative that he is being removed because of the letter he wrote to the president. But I want to make it clear that we invited him and discussed other confidential issues in which we put him online to be able to talk to us. But in a most unfortunate way, he decided to discuss the issues outside.

That was his biggest failure as far as leadership is concerned,” Tuju said. But sources said Murang’a residents are interpreting the sacking as part of a scheme by tycoons from Kiambu and Nyeri counties close to the president to sideline the region that is demanding it produces the next Mount Kenya kingpin. The tycoons from Murang’a have been rooting for former Gatanga MP Kenneth to assume the Central Kenya leadership after Uhuru retires. Kenneth had even announced he was ready to occupy any other senior post in post-Uhuru government to represent the interests of Central Kenya.

The former Gatanga MP was even in the delegation of Kikuyu leaders and elders hosted by Raila Odinga in Bondo and is preparing to host the ODM leader in Nyeri. He was also present in several meetings held at Central Organisation of Trade Union Francis Atwoli’s home in Kajiado to discuss post-Uhuru next government. Others present in the meetings included Jubilee vice chair David Murathe who also comes from Murang’a county. Murathe was elected Gatanga MP in 1997 general election on Charity Ngilu then led Social Democratic Party.

In the region, Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro and his Kandara counterpart Alice Wahome are firmly behind Ruto. The two legislators were among 41 others who wrote a scathing letter to Uhuru, cautioning him that he would fail in his bid to market Raila as the ideal successor. The letter that came a day before the president hosted Central Kenya leaders allied to him at Sagana in Nyeri warned the president that he was becoming unpopular in the region every passing day due to his move to sideline the deputy president.

Insiders revealed that the Nyeri and Kiambu tycoons are not convinced Murang’a leaders allied to Uhuru are doing their best to fight the rebellion against Uhuru’s administration. Already, Kang’ata has joined Ruto’s presidential bid in 2022 and will base his support for the DP on Uhuru’s public declaration regarding the DP’s presidential ambitions in the past. “In 2022, Uhuru will not be on the ballot, so by supporting Ruto, you cannot say that I will be disrespecting him,” Kang’ata said when he was hosted by a local television station.

Ruth Wangari Mwaniki

“After all, the president told us ‘yangu kumi ya Ruto kumi’ (I want to rule for 10 years and then will hand over for Ruto to rule for another ten). So, when I support Ruto, I am doing as the president has said in the past. The president by the way, recently told us that the promise still stands,” he added. With Kang’ata’s sacking, Infrastructure cabinet secretary James Macharia now remains the most senior leader from Murang’a. The region was pegging its hope on Kenneth to one day ascend to top political seat in BBI power arrangement to give it an equal footing with Kiambu and Nyeri that have produced three past presidents.

They are founding president Jomo Kenyatta and his son, Uhuru, who hail from Kiambu and Kibaki who come from Nyeri. The residents were hoping that Uhuru would back Kenneth to reciprocate the gesture by Kariuki Njiiri to step down from his Kigumo seat in Fort Hall (Murang’a) for his father Kenyatta thus easing his entry into parliament, Before Njiiri stepped down, Kanu leaders at the time had begged those from Kiambu to do so, but they adamantly refused to step down for the newly freed convict Kenyatta.

Njiiri later served as Kigumo MP and assistant minister for Local Government in 1964. Murang’a MPs in the president’s camp include Kigumo’s Wangari Mwaniki, Mathioya’s Peter Kimari, Kangema’s Muturi Kigano, Maragua’s Mary Wamaua and Gatanga’s Joseph Nduati. The woman representative, Sabina Chege had shifted allegiance to Ruto before making an abrupt about-turn. Murang’a residents are now suspecting that Uhuru is pushing for either Health cabinet secretary Mutahi Kagwe or his Agriculture counterpart Peter Munya to inherit his clout.

Kagwe is from Nyeri while Munya is from Meru, which is in Mount Kenya East. Munya even represented the president during the burial of Thika Town MP Wainaina Wajungle’s mother in Kiambu county. Mourners walked out of the funeral when Munya started reading Uhuru’s speech saying it was disrespect to Ruto who was present. They could be heard chanting Ruto! Ruto! as Munya read the speech ever louder interjecting it with pleas for respect. Wajungle was elected on an independent ticket.