Political jostling and infighting among local leaders could have led to the cancellation of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s trip to Ukambani.
It has emerged that Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka and three governors from the region are at loggerheads over who will control the programme. The President, through his communication team, yesterday said he postponed the trip that was to start today till Thursday to stop the possible spread of Covid-19.
But insiders believe that the push-and-pull among leaders in the region over who has a say on the projects to be launched and the region’s wish list could have led the Head of State to cancel the planned trip.
Speaking at St Jude Kisooni Catholic Church in Mumbuni, Machakos, on Sunday, Kalonzo announced that the President will be touring the Lower Eastern region, and urged residents to turn up in large numbers to welcome him.
The Wiper leader had indicated that the Head of State will tour Konza, the Sh39 billion Thwake dam and later open the multi-million Kibwezi–Mutomo–Kitui Road that connects the country to Ethiopia, a multi-million irrigation scheme in Tseikuru, open Tseikuru Technical Institute as well as launch a new university in Makueni, among other projects.
But earlier in the week, governors Charity Ngilu (Kitui), and Alfred Mutua (Machakos) while visiting Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana, who has been ailing, said they will present their development agenda to the President.
Unlike what was witnessed when Kenyatta visited Nyanza with ODM leader Raila Odinga taking the lead to welcome him, the Ukambani governors told off Kalonzo, accusing him of scheming to turn the developmental tour to a platform for 2022 politics.
Dr Mutua and Prof Kibwana, who have declared interest to succeed Uhuru in 2022, urged the President to dish out development goodies to the region. “We expect the tour to yield positive development projects and not just an opportunity for some idle leaders to be seen walking around with the Head of State,” said the Machakos governor.
Ngilu said they expected the Budget which was presented before Parliament a fortnight ago to impact the region significantly. “A Budget of Sh3.6 trillion is not small. This region would like to have a share of that and that is what we want to tell him when he comes,” she said.
Kibwana said the President’s tour will be an opportunity for him to assess the progress of development projects in Ukambani.
The Makueni governor took issue with Kalonzo’s role in the president’s tour, saying he has no business being involved. “Let the President tag along the AU special envoy on infrastructure Raila Odinga since he was initiated some road projects in our region and maybe any other person who wishes to come,” Kibwana said.
United Democratic Alliance chair and former Machakos Senator Johnson Muthama said the Head of State cancelled the trip to Ukambani because his hosts did not have tangible projects to be launched.
“The truth remains, Uhuru’s would-be-hosts in Lower Eastern do not have any meaningful infrastructural development agenda for their people” said Mr Muthama.