Mt Kenya voters were deliberate, not duped

Former President Uhuru Kenyatta. Mt Kenya voters voted rock solid for Dr William Ruto for President (in defiance of their chieftain Uhuru Kenyatta). [File, Standard]

The tone, arguments and assertions made by columnist Kamau Ngotho in The Sunday Standard of March 5, 2023 on Mt Kenya voter behaviour on August 9, 2022 must not go unchallenged.Voting rock solid for Dr William Ruto for President (in defiance of their chieftain and former President Uhuru Kenyatta), and a clean sweep by UDA for other positions.

The article: “Laikipia lessons on why voters should not fix it if it ain’t broken” was inaccurate, misleading and a distorted revisionism of contemporary historical events, still fresh in the living memory of readers and Kenyans in general.

Mr Ngotho’s audacity in his central assertion that Mt Kenya voters were not deliberate and intentional in their choice of leaders, but rather voted on the crest of some blinding and unthinking euphoria, is a demeaning attack of their expression at the ballot box.

Without naming names, Ngotho re-pins the label of “tugege” (imbeciles) on elected leaders, an indignant sneer invented by former Nakuru governor Lee Kinyanjui, aimed at less wealthy but more popular campaign rivals who gave his Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Alliance side a run for their old money.

Safe for the extreme unjustified cynicism, it would be hilarious Ngotho spins a tale to fault the Mt Kenya voters for brutally handing a red card to an entire crop of political elite he credits with “having a grasp of issues, track record and background”, but who evidently were out of touch and insular to the voters’ needs and aspirations hence the rejection at the ballot box.

After circling the runway of his denigration of the wisdom and discernment abilities of Mt Kenya voters going by their rock solid vote for United Democratic Alliance (UDA) candidates, Ngotho lands with a strange and nerve grating prescription for what voters in Laikipia County should have done in his view: “The many I talked to in my rural village (in Laikipia) said ‘kaba Muriithi’ (better Muriithi).They have learned the hard way that if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it, and voting on euphoria is ‘bure kabisa’ (stupid)” .

Ndiritu Muriithi is former Laikipia governor, and who was defeated for the second time in 2022 by Joshua Irungu. Mr Irungu beat Muriithi in their first duel in 2013.

For those who follow Kenya’s political discourse, they will not miss the fact that Ngotho’s article falls in the category of an apologist endeavour for a section of Mt Kenya political players still hurting from defeat in 2022 for backing a losing horse in the presidential contest.

Since winners and losers of the 2022 elections were announced, it emerged that Mt Kenya voters exhibited two unprecedented forms of voting behaviour that neither Kenya Kwanza nor Azimio la Umoja One Kenya sides had expected.

Voting rock solid for Dr William Ruto for President (in defiance of their chieftain and former President Uhuru Kenyatta), and a clean sweep by UDA for other positions.

Although UDA strategists expected to carry majority vote in the region, they had not expected the overwhelming clean sweep. By these two decisions, the region averted a polarising and destabilising noisy rivalry in Parliament between two rival Mt Kenya blocs, one loyal to Uhuru and Raila, and another loyal to President Ruto and Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua. This enhances smooth running of government and execution of legislative agenda in Parliament.

However, rather than acknowledge Mt Kenya voters for being discerning in securing their interests, aspirations and hopes, the party of their choice and preferred leadership, a narrative has been invented by leading voices of the losing side, that the voters will live to regret.

It is a classic case of sour grapes. This is the narrative Ngotho’s article attempted to amplify by his assertion that, six months after elections - even before implementation of programmes - voters in Laikipia were lamenting “kaba Muriithi (better Muriithi)”.

Finally, for the benefit of readers of The Sunday Standard, it is worth highlighting that the cadre of leadership that emerged from 2022 elections in Mt Kenya, would easily fit in the pages of JF Kennedy’s 1956 Profiles in Courage, going by the draconian intimidation they endured from state agencies.

-The writer is Laikipia County Secretary