A war of supremacy has erupted between East African Legislative Assembly member Kanini Kega and embattled Jubilee Party secretary general Jeremiah Kioni over Mt Kenya political turf.
On the other hand, Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro appears to sizing up Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua over the title for the mountain, while Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua and nominated MP Sabina Chege are also part of the succession matrix.
Five months after the General Election, succession talk in Mt Kenya revolving around former President Uhuru Kenyatta, DP Gachagua and newest entrant Nyoro, is bubbling onto the surface.
This past week has seen battle for the soul of Uhuru’s Jubilee Party pit leaders from the region against each other, with a faction led by Kega ousting Secretary General Kioni and Vice chair David Murathe.
Uhuru’s allies believe the party’s woes are engineered by the government to ‘finish the former president politically’ given that if he is removed from being party leader, he will have no loci stadi to be the region’s kingpin.
Gachagua, having succeeded the former President in assuming the highest political position was thought to automatically take up the mantle, but recent talk among politicians shows it may be no walk in the park for him.
While the DP has been enjoying support from a number of MPs and elected leaders, there are murmurs among some that he ‘has not kept all of them under his fold and hasn’t been reaching out to them when visiting the counties’.
“It is not Gachagua who should be speaking for himself about how he will bring together leaders from the region or how he has assumed the kingpin position. He is supposed to facilitate us to speak on his behalf,” an MP told The Sunday Standard.
He said the Deputy President should facilitate them in his regional tours to spice up his events but has not been doing so.
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“If you look at the President, he used to personally call us on phone to accompany him in various events and the magnitude of leaders attending his event spoke a political message but our son does not seem to understand this,” the legislator added.
But Maragua MP Mary Waithira said there is no doubt that DP Gachagua is the Mt Kenya kingpin.
“He is the second in command and senior most politician and hence the kingpin, we should avoid confusion and concentrate on service delivery to Wanjiku on the promises we made,” said Waithira.
Nyoro on the other hand, has not openly said he wants to be the community leader but has earned himself an adherent in Murang’a Senator Joe Nyutu.
On two occasions, the senator has publicly fronted Nyoro to take over the mountain and even revived debate in political mischief that Murang’a has suffered in the hands of sister counties in Mt Kenya region.
“We have been taken for a ride for a long time. Despite supporting and voting for current and past governments in a pattern, we have not produced a leader at the top but we want to front Nyoro to represent us after Gachagua.
Nyutu explained that the first senior political position in Mt Kenya went to Kiambu where the founding President Jomo Kenyatta hailed.
It then went to Nyeri, the home of the third president the late Mwai Kibaki and then back to Kiambu to former President Uhuru and is now back to Nyeri through Gachagua.
“This time round we want to be honoured to present Nyoro to serve the country. He has worked for Kiharu and he can deliver,” the senator said.
“Uhuru was appointed by Moi and although he did not make it at his first stab he made it finally. When Ruto was looking for his Deputy, Nyoro’s name was on the table. Murang’a will produce the president in Nyoro,” he added.
Nyoro has however distanced himself from the succession politics talk maintaining that all leaders are under Ruto and Gachagua.
“All of us in Kenya Kwanza are under the President and the Deputy President. We are their subordinates,” he said.
The MP who had brought together over ten MPs and senators from across the country to witness his Masomo Bora initiative told a vernacular radio station that his main aim for the event was education and not politics.
Other than Nyutu, no other MP from Murang’a was present.
Murang’a Woman Representative Bettie Maina who has been an ardent supporter of Gachagua was absent despite her warm political relationship with Nyoro in the past where she never missed his function.
In a past interview Ms Maina told The Sunday Standard that regardless of some leaders cordial relationship with the president, the community should know that the only existing link between them and the head of state is Gachagua claiming others, who she did not mention, were only after their selfish interests.
Of all the political events that Gachagua has attended in Mt Kenya region, Nyoro has been missing in action with the latest being Governor Irungu Kangata’s issuance of bursary program on January 28 at Ihura stadium Kiharu constituency.
In December, Gachagua was at Maragua to commission Murang’a Technical Training Institute (M.T.T.I) and Nyoro was conspicuously absent at the function.
“The two have only shared a podium when the President is around. This in itself is a major political statement on their political relationship and ideologies,” Felix Muchoki, a political scientist said.
Kieni MP Wainaina Njoroge has dismissed the rifts between them terming them imaginary and maintaining that Gachagua was the de facto leader.
“You can’t compare the DP with an MP. Gachagua is our leader and that’s final,” said the MP.
According to the MP, instead of focusing on Nyoro, he said he was mobilising like-minded MPs to convince Gachagua to meet Uhuru for a truce so that there can be peaceful transition of leadership mantle from Uhuru to Gachagua.
“Two weeks ago, I mobilised about five MPs and had tea with the Deputy President with possibilities of meeting the former president for his blessings and truce. Our course will continue,” said Njoroge.
According to the MP, they need Uhuru more than he needs them since he is still a community leader with immeasurable following in the region.
“Uhuru was able to marshall support for Azimio leader Raila Odinga and for the first time he garnered over 800,000 votes. We need the votes in our basket since Uhuru will not run for any seat and hence he is not our competitor,” said Njoroge alias Cieni.
The UDA MP said the move will increase Gachagua dominance in kingship politics since it will not only contain the former President but will demand respect in the Kenya Kwanza administration.
“If Uhuru is brought on board by the President, that would dwarf the Deputy President politically and this is what we want to avoid in our push to have the two reconcile,” said the MP.
But then its also not lost to observers that Ruto’s hold on the region saw it overwhelmingly vote for him in last year’s election.
During last year’s campaigns President Ruto then the Deputy President said he was ‘Mt Kenya region’s kingpin’ saying he knew the gates and the coordinates as he dismissed Uhuru’s remarks that he could dictate to the region on who to vote for.
The President, after clinching the top seat, thanked the locals from the mountain for ‘breaking the yoke of ethnic political grouping that gave rise to tribal chiefs in the country’s regions.”
Kioni argues that all political parties in the country bear the brand of certain politicians and as such given that Jubilee identifies itself with Uhuru, the recent events in his party aim at dealing him a political blow.
“They are after the former President who financed the formation of Jubilee party. The President is wrestling Jubilee from Uhuru so that they can impose a ‘Mr Yes man party leader’ and then prevail upon the leaders to ditch Jubilee to UDA,” said Kioni.
“Ruto is the face of UDA, Uhuru, Jubilee, Musalia Mudavadi Amani National Congress (ANC), National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetangula for Ford Kenya and the leaders are respected by their communities. They want to remove Uhuru from the matrix.”