An earlier directive believed to have come from State House meant to keep legislators from Mt Kenya off succession politics seems to have taken effect.
Many of the legislators who have been vocal in airing their views about 2022 politics are now curiously going silent.
The directive, also seen as part of a wider scheme to pull the carpet from under the feet of Deputy President Wiliam Ruto, has left many legislators in limbo. They are now forced to choose between risking it all for their preferred candidate to take over from President Uhuru Kenyatta and remaining in good books of Jubilee Party bosses.
Jubilee Party vice Chair David Murathe last week said party MPs, especially from Central Kenya, had been asked to concentrate on pushing for government agenda, programmes and pledges and shun the 2022 politics.
Yesterday, Murathe said the directive was being followed.
“I told you to watch this space. See now, the region is quiet and can now concentrate on development. The MPs must support the government projects and stop politicking,” he said.
Notably, unlike in the past when a number of MPs from the region accompanied Ruto for events within the region and across the country, the lawmakers have gone slowly on the trips in what signals the seriousness of the matter.
For the last one week, apart from Laikipia Woman Representative Catherine Waruguru who accompanied Ruto to Modogashe in Garissa County and Merti in Isiolo and previously to Kakamega and the Coast, no other MP has attended the DP’s meetings outside of the Mt Kenya region.
Murathe however says the gag is not targeted at the Deputy President but meant to help in the succession politics by ensuring development becomes a strong selling point for Jubilee to retain power in 2022.
“Some of the loud MPs from Mt Kenya are busy sowing seeds of discord. Why insist that they will support Ruto when that is the succession plan of the party?” said Murathe.
He says those crisscrossing Mt Kenya to campaign for Ruto are trying to cast doubts on Uhuru’s support for his deputy.
Prior to the gag order a month ago, Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria had written on Facebook that some leaders were holding private meetings planning to fight the DP.
“I have been in politics for a long time, long enough to know that people set up secretariats to support a candidate, not to fight another. Some of my colleagues in Jubilee have set up a secretariat in Runda not to campaign for someone but to fight someone,” read the post. A day before, on June 23, Kuria had shared a WhatsApp conversation between him and Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu in which the former appeared to warn the first-term legislator against participating in such private meetings.
The war of words between Kuria and Wambugu epitomises the political battle for and against Ruto that could have provoked the gag on the legislators.
The support for the DP has divided the region, with a group of former MPs regrouping and declaring their support for ODM leader Raila Odinga, further splitting up the region.
Wambugu currently carries the mantle of anti-Ruto campaigners in Central, taking over from former Kiambu Governor William Kabogo who has since reconciled with the DP.
On Wambugu’s team are former MPs Jamleck Kamau, Kabando wa Kabando, Kembi Gitura, Joshua Toro, among others.
The former MPs met Raila at a Nairobi hotel last week and said the goodwill between him and President Kenyatta was important for Mt Kenya’s future. They vowed to embrace the former Prime Minister’s politics.
Kuria and Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa are among the lawmakers who have been vocal in supporting Ruto and both have in the past said they will not be cowed from supporting the DP’s 2022 bid.
Yesterday, Ichungw’a said he will continue to speak his mind and accompany the President or his deputy in any development agenda across the country and would not be cowed.
“We are politicians, we are not running a church, but a political party with a development agenda. No one can stop me as a leader from attending meetings, or accompanying anybody for meetings to push for the Big Four in any part of the country,” he said.
“I will not change my mind on my political persuasion.”
Ndaragua MP Jeremiah Kioni agreed with Ichungw’a, saying politicians should be free to speak their mind on any issue.
“Whenever we discuss politics in our backyards, people do ask or expect us to give them directions on topical issues. We cannot limit ourselves as leaders to these issues,” said Kioni.