Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, an ardent critic of former President Uhuru Kenyatta and his family, now says he is ready to meet and reconcile with the man he once served as a personal assistant.
In a dramatic and inexplicable climbdown from his hard stance against the Kenyatta family, Mr Gachagua on Friday said he would seek and meet Uhuru in an effort to unite the country.
He spoke during an interview at Inooro FM - a Kikuyu language radio station. Mr Gachagua further disclosed that he had directed Mt Kenya leaders to desist from attacking Mr Kenyatta, who he kept referring to as ‘President’ and ‘our son’.
“The elections are over. It is time to unite our people, including those who opposed us in last year’s election since they are still our people. We have agreed that no leader will pelt stones at former President Uhuru Kenyatta because he is still our son and although we faced each other during elections, that period is over,” he said.
While vowing to protect and support Uhuru and his family, Gachagua said the former president had kept off the political scene, which was their desire as leaders of Mt Kenya. “We have always wanted him to retire with the respect he deserves,” he said.
“For three to four months, he has lived like an elder and a community leader and that is why I have directed all our MPs to respect him and let him enjoy his retirement. When the right time comes, I will reach out to him,” he added.
Mr Gachagua also called on Mt Kenya leaders to rally behind him, claiming that God had anointed him to lead the community using the support he gained in last year’s election.
In yet another change of tune, Mr Gachagua, who had accused a section of wealthy people in Mt Kenya region of plotting to bring down the Kenya Kwanza administration, vowed to reach out to the group, especially the Mt Kenya Foundation, to help him rehabilitate victims of illicit brews in the region.
“Our community has three important pillars, including the kingpin, the warrior and the rich. I am the kingpin and the warrior who has vowed to protect my community, but I need the support of the rich in my war against the alcohol menace,” he said.
He said other than planning a meeting with the Mt Kenya Foundation, a wealthy club of oligarchs from Mt Kenya, he had organised a series of golf tournaments, starting October 21, to raise funds for his campaign against the consumption of illicit alcohol in the region.
The Mt Kenya Foundation, a group of wealthy individuals led by former Equity Group chairman Peter Munga, organised a mega fundraiser in support of Azimio La Umoja leader Raila Odinga’s Presidential bid ahead of last year’s election.
Mr Gachagua’s change of heart comes barely two weeks after he announced that Mt Kenya leaders would always ditch their political differences and unite whenever their interests were threatened.
“This community of Mt Kenya people is unique. We talk differently but when our interests are threatened, we put our differences aside, meet at night and speak in one voice the following morning as was the case during the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala),” Mr Gachagua said during the burial of freedom heroine Muthoni Kirima.
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Back to the region
He further promised to be back to the region ‘should things go south’ between him and the President.
Days after his remarks, Mr Gachagua presided over a meeting of 12 Kiambu leaders at his Karen home even as a parallel meeting of 48 central Kenya leaders took place at the Thika Greens home of one of the Kirinyaga MPs.
Political observers have seen Mr Gachagua’s change of tune as a strategic shift that is aimed at harnessing and strengthening Mt Kenya’s clout in national politics while at the same time affirming himself as the man in charge.
“This is an excellent move. Mr Gachagua seems to have abandoned his combative stance of attacking his rivals and is instead taking a reconciliatory path. It shows that he is making major strides in politics but at the same time signals that there are red flags within the Kenya Kwanza government,” Charles Njoroge, a political analyst said.
Mr Njoroge said the move was welcome as the region stood to gain more when its leaders are united than when they continue to tear at each other politically.
During last year’s campaigns, Mr Gachagua consistently attacked the Kenyatta family, seeking to create phobia against the founding president’s family. He accused the family, led by then-President Uhuru Kenyatta, of oppressing the Kikuyu community to its advantage.
He also accused Mr Kenyatta of holding the country captive for his own gains in what he described as State capture.
In April, a group of hooligans, deemed to have had the blessing of influential people in government, invaded the expansive Kenyatta family land in Ruiru, where they cut trees, set the farm on fire, sub-divided the land and made away over 2,500 sheep.
Property would be invaded
The invasion come a month after the National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichungwa warned the former president to stop ‘funding Azimio activities’ or else his property would be invaded.
“When a Kenyan’s property is invaded, then we will also invade your land and ask homeless Kenyans to settle on it. Don’t think that only the ordinary Kenyan will lose his property. Even you will pay a price if you continue to instigate violence and bloodshed in the country. That is my message to none other than Uhuru Kenyatta,” he said.
In the same month, Mr Gachagua, while reacting to a meeting between Field Marshal Muthoni Kirima and Mama Ngina Kenyatta, accused the Kenyattas of taking land from Mau Mau.
“They should return at least half of the parcels they took from the Mau Mau. The vast parcels of land have over the years remained idle even as the Mau Mau and their children are being buried in public cemeteries,” he said.