Panic ahead of Uhuru Mt. Kenya tour

Panic ahead of Uhuru Mt. Kenya tour

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It took great courage for William Ruto to accompany Uhuru Kenyatta and other leaders to the burial of former Kenya National Congress party presidential candidate, Peter Kenneth’s mother, Rahab Muhuni, in Gatanga, Murang’a county.
For the entire week, the DP had suffered humiliation after scores of his key allies were targeted in a graft crackdown, which left many Kenyans asking whether he would survive the onslaught.

Ruto did not hide his disdain on the arrests that saw nearly all the Kerio Valley Development Directors paraded in court to answer graft charges, and was suspected to have sent his attack dogs led by Elgeyo/Marakwet senator Kipchumba Murkomen and Kapsaret MP Oscar Sudi to pour cold water on the investigations.

However, the wild applause the DP received from the thousands of mourners while delivering his condolences at the burial of Kenneth’s mother was confirmation that he still enjoys massive support in Central Kenya, despite a spirited campaign by the president to cut his influence.
Prior to the last elections, Kenneth had blamed Ruto for his loss to Mike Sonko, the Nairobi governor, in the Jubilee Party primaries, going ahead to campaign as an independent, and again falling to Sonko.
The former presidential candidate is a member of the Kieleweke group that is opposed to Ruto taking over from Uhuru in 2022.
Ironically, Raila Odinga who has become Uhuru’s buddy, received lukewarm support from the mourners, which is a pointer of the failure by the Kieleweke group to gain traction in marketing the handshake in Central Kenya.

The Handshake; Uhuru and Raila

Aware that the mourners were giving more attention to Ruto, Raila changed tune and told them what he thought they wanted to hear: asked the president to consider appointing Kenneth to a government position.
The ODM leader on reading the mourners’ mood heaped praises on the former Gatanga MP, describing him as a gentleman with vast experience who deserves a role in government.

“We are here to condole with you for losing Mama Rahab, who brought up this man ‘Muthungu (whiteman) wa Gatanga’ (Kenneth’s nickname) into the gentleman he is… His ways, the way he handles his business and the way he presents himself you can see he is a gentleman. So Mr President, this man needs to be given a job in government,” said Raila, causing the crowd to burst into laughter.
He went ahead to highlight Kenneth’s professional experience and their apparently common love for football, in a move to draw more attention from the mourners.
The burial came as Uhuru and Raila prepare to tour Central Kenya to dismantle Ruto’s network established by the DP himself, with the help of the Tanga Tanga team.
However, there are reports the president has been advised to visit the region without Raila, failure to which he will be heckled when he introduces the ODM leader to residents.

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There are also other reports that ODM supporters in Central Kenya, led by a former Gatundu South parliamentary aspirant CK Kihara are organising to ferry busloads of university hoodlums to the meetings, to wildly cheer whenever Uhuru introduces Raila to the crowds. The aim is to send the message to the Tanga Tanga team that Raila is the region’s preferred heir to Uhuru in 2022.
Indeed, it is the failure by the Kieleweke team to make inroads in Central Kenya in rallying the region behind Uhuru and Raila March 9 2018 handshake that has forced State House to change tact.
The Kieleweke group has failed to carry the Central Kenya voters along with them in the anti-Ruto campaign, despite spending huge sums of money in numerous trips, rallies and church functions.
The anti-Ruto group had even written to speaker of the national assembly Justin Muturi seeking to be recognised as a parliamentary caucus even as it seemed to have been running out of steam.
They wanted to operate in parliament as a ‘MPs for Unity Group’.

Ngunjiri Wambugu

Led by Nyeri Town legislator Wambugu Ngunjiri and nominated MP Maina Kamanda, the group fashioned itself as the antidote of Team Tanga Tanga, a political grouping that has coalesced around the deputy president and his presidential bid.
But in the past couple of months, members of the group have encountered hostile receptions in Kikuyu dominated regions.
In one instance, Wambugu, Kamanda, nominated senator Isaac Mwaura, Kasarani lawmaker Mercy Gakuya and Kiambaa MP Paul Koinange were denied a platform to address the congregation in a church in Limuru in Kiambu county.
A similar function almost aborted in Naivasha when area MP Jane Kihara stormed the service and warned them about creating divisions.
When her turn to speak came, she told off the MPs.

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“I want to tell you MPs from Central Kenya to leave us alone. Why do you want to bring trouble to the Rift Valley? You were not here when we had issues, please stay in your areas,” Kihara said in reference to the 2007/08 post-election violence that pitted the Kalenjins against the Kikuyus.

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So bad is the relationship between Kieleweke and Tanga Tanga that Kihara refused to sit with Ngunjiri’s team at the service.
The failure by the Kieleweke to sell Raila was evident when some of its leaders refuted claims that they have been using the handshake to popularise him for a 2022 presidential bid.
Ngunjiri, Muturi Kigano of Kangema, Gakuya, Kasarani and Wangari Mwaniki, Kigumo sounded desperate when they pointed finger at the Tanga Tanga faction, saying its members are the ones claiming they are being used by the opposition to popularise the ODM leader.
They, however, admitted they were part of the La Mada meetings that, they said, are focused on development.
But what they did not disclose is that it is failure by the Kieleweke to make inroads in marketing the handshake in Central Kenya that gave birth to the controversial La Mada meetings where top government officials from the region plotted how to market it, in a scheme disguised as development tours.

But the meetings at La Mada took a nasty turn after four cabinet secretaries Peter Munya of Trade, Joseph Mucheru, ICT, James Macharia, Transport and Sicily Kariuki, Health, were accused of using them to plan Ruto’s elimination.
However, the CS led by Munya rubbished the claims saying they were politically instigated.
During the meetings, the leaders had agreed to devolve their gatherings to counties and sub counties.
But the president later reportedly issued an order to cabinet secretaries against attending the highly publicised meetings, directing all leaders to hold theirs “within existing structures”.

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He further directed the CSs to hold their gatherings within the various cabinet subcommittees and that they should involve elected leaders in all development matters.
The directive was reportedly given shortly after a meeting between Uhuru and Ruto, though the Kieleweke team says no such directive was issued by the head of state.
For now Central Kenya talks have branched from the boardrooms into the barazas, as leaders seek to undertake a major public participation exercise to understand development interventions that Uhuru needs to make in the region. The president is scheduled to visit the region any time from now.

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