The entry of Uongozi Forum into the murky Mt Kenya succession politics has added swell to the confusion sweeping across President Uhuru Kenyatta’s backyard.
Convened last week in Safari Park and comprising a constellation of choice leaders, the grouping appears to have caught area MPs, who are split between Kieleweke, Tanga Tanga and Team Wanjiku movements, off guard.
Flashing what seems to be support from the top and cutting across the broad spectrum of area leadership -- businessmen, academics, ex-politicians and carefully chosen leaders -- the group claims it’s ideals are beyond vain ends of cheap politics.
There are those who say the regional development talk is a cover for politics. Others like Moses Kuria have since dismissed it as comprising octogenarians who lack mandate.
But the organisers are sticking to their course, and they are taking no prisoners.
“We selectively chose people we thought are our legitimate leaders even if they are not elected and that is how the likes of (former Murang’a Senator Getura) Kembi, Mutahi Kagwe, Priscila Nyokabi, Martha Karua, Njenga Mungai and Daniel Karaba attended,” Peter Kagwanja, one of the convenors, told Sunday Standard.
National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi opened the forum, also attended by Gen (Rtd) Julius Karangi, Governors Francis Kimemia, Nderitu Mureithi and Kiraitu Murungi, political scientist Mutahi Ngunyi, Kipipiri MP Amos Kimunya, Karanja Kabage (who died shortly thereafter), Rtd Lt Col Joseph Kingori, Daniel Karaba and Prof Njunguna Ndung’u.
Respected clerics, Bishops Anthony Muheria (Catholic Church) and Peter Njenga (ACK), were there to offer spiritual guidance as the group took off.
Kuria, who fired the first salvo against the group, argued that leaving out elected leaders was indicative of sinister motives. He said the group was introducing further divisions in the region.
Kikuyu MP Kamau Ichung’wa took up on a similar line. “What I am opposed to is the political ethnic mobilisation and balkanisation in the pretext of discussing development. Let them continue with it, they know what they want to achieve,” said Ichung’wa.
But Kagwanja says the new forum has no place for sycophants. In fact, he argues it is because the present leadership was reincarnating the sycophantic ethos of the past that ignited the spark for the group.
“We cannot see the difference between Ichungwa and Kanyingi, and I also cannot tell the difference between Ndindi Nyoro and Gidraf Mweru who was supposed to have replaced Matiba. Gidraf could have performed better. I cannot see the Matibas, the Michukis, the Mwichigi’s and the Kiano’s,” he says.
Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Muriithi, who was involved in meetings leading up to the group, says the region needs “every ounce of intelligence” to move forward. He said those feeling threatened by the new group are operating with limited thinking.
“It is a good forum and the sole intend is to solidify the economic thinking of our region. It is unfortunate a few stuck in the old way of doing things are still reading funny things into this. They will be on the wrong side of history,” Muriithi said.
Former Cabinet Minister Martha Karua put it bluntly. She told the conveners to stop hiding behind the development agenda when issues to be discussed were clear.
“You don’t have to convene us with the excuse of development, we can convene without talking development and we don’t have to ask for permission to meet,” said Karua.
Freedom of speech
Lawyer and politician Paul Muite was invited but missed the sitting because he had a matter in court, while Peter Kenneth sent his apologies. Of the 75 invited, 70 of them -- past and current MPs, senior retired security officers, captains of industry, top businessmen, policy experts and lawyers -- attended.
“Yes, the meeting was intensely political because it came against the background of allegations by the Deputy President’s allies of assassination claims against them,” said Kagwanja.
That was in reference to claims that Interior PS Karanja Kibicho had whittled down Ruto’s security, that the second in command had confronted the PS over it and allegations that CSs met to plot the DP’s assassination.
The concern at the Safari Park meeting was that some quarters in government want to return them to the Kanu days, an era when leaders from the region or even bishops and other preachers weren’t allowed freedom of speech, association or assembly.
Do not miss out on the latest news. Join the Standard Digital Telegram channel HERE.