Gachagua under siege as Mt Kenya leaders doubt his loyalty to Ruto

President William Ruto and Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua carried a pole during the commissioning of the Lariak Forest Wildlife electric fence in Laikipia County. [PCS]

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has been lately in the eye of a political storm and under vicious attacks by a section of Mt Kenya leaders who have questioned his loyalty to his boss, President William Ruto.

The Deputy President’s critics have been so enraged and emboldened that they recently went to the foothills of Mt Kenya where Laikipia East MP Mwangi Kiunjuri dared him to resign.

In a thinly veiled attack against Gachagua, the MP vilified him over his push for the one man, one shilling-one vote revenue sharing formula claiming he was right at the heart of government and need not to cry foul.

“If there is something we want to change in our country like the issue about the revenue or law amendment it is taken to Parliament for action. If we pass anything in Parliament we must defend it and if you don’t want to defend it, you reject it in Parliament so that the government is seen as one government. We can’t have one government which is split into two. It must be one government led by one leader, President William Ruto.”

Kiunjuri continued, “If you are dissatisfied with Ruto’s administration you may as well go and establish your own government or you wait for three years to campaign and form your own with the people you will convince so that those of us who want to continue with the President soldier on with his government.”

The MP spoke in Nanyuki town on Tuesday at an event to launch a multi-million modern market which was presided over by the National Assembly Majority leader Kimani Ichungwa who represented President Ruto.

Kiunjuri was elected to the National Assembly on The Service Party an affiliate party of Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza coalition.

Days before the Tuesday event, Kiunjuri had represented the President at a funds drive in Sirima Catholic church in Ngobit Ward where he was accompanied by three MPs: Duncan Mathenge (Nyeri Town) George Gachagua (Ndaragwa) and Sarah Korere (Laikipia North)

He used the event to attack Gachagua claiming he was bankrolling the Limuru III meeting saying: “Some government leaders holding high positions who he knows light fires against the President at night but during the day they claim to be together.”

Kiunjuri has been on the periphery and now seems to join Gachagua’s accusers opposing him with Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro who is perceived to be seeking to neutralise Gachagua’s influence in the mountain region.

But Gachagua fought back the accusations and warned his critics even as he sustained his unity call for the Mt Kenya region.

“Are you looking up to any other leader from this region apart from me? When the right time comes, I will disclose to you something but for now let those people be told that when a person thinks that he can plot something against some people, he should be told that a stalker is at times outwitted by a stealth hunter. We can read letters concealed in an envelope. The people of Mt Kenya are wise and discerning,” he warned.

This warning was issued in Gachagua’s last public appearance before retreating to his Mathira home where he has been meeting with political delegations.

Despite spearheading the tea sector reforms, Gachagua was not present at State House when Ruto met with the sector’s leadership to discuss looming elections.

He was also not present at the Africa Fertiliser and Soil Health Summit at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre which was held a week ago that brought together African heads of state and government, ministers responsible for foreign affairs and agriculture, senior policymakers and private sector players.

He was also not present at the airport to welcome the visiting Uganda President Yoweri Museveni on Wednesday and was a no-show at State House yesterday when the two heads of state discussed bilateral relations.

The second in command was consciously missing at State House during the swearing-in of 20 High Court judges in an event witnessed by the President.

 President William Ruto and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua at State House, Nairobi, on June 13, 2023. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

When the President led the country and members of his Cabinet in tree planting on May 10, Gachagua was also missing. He last shared a podium with the President during Labour Day celebrations where the Head of State blasted leaders whom he accused of propagating a tribal card to gain political mileage in their quest to get popularity instead of serving Kenyans.

“It is stupid and primitive to divide Kenyans along tribal lines and I urge leaders to desist from taking that route. And we must be brutally honest with one another, there is no need to lie to each other.

‘‘There is no need to look for popularity because those of us who were elected as leaders were not elected to serve and transform our country and to work for those who elected us,” Ruto said.

Although Nyoro and Gachagua have not been attending the same meetings, Nyoro’s followers have been treating him as Ruto’s potential running mate in 2027.

This was played out late last month when Nyoro was accompanied by MPs Edwin Mugo and Betty Maina and Senator Joe Nyutu at a function that was hosted by Gachagua.

Shortly before the DP arrived, Nyoro told Mathioya landslide victims that he was representing the President who had sent him a Sh1 million donation.

Leaders claimed Nyoro was their leader and that he was their link to the President and told locals to continue supporting their son.

Ms Maina said in reference to Nyoro: ‘’You came here because you love us and you are merciful, and we shall never forget that you gave us a shoulder to lean on when we were mourning.

‘‘As women we shall ask God to continue blessing you and uplifting you from one grace to another and protect you against your enemies and we recognise you as the senior most leader in this region.’’

The unfolding of events has not gone unnoticed.  Embakasi North MP James Gakuya, who is Gachagua’a ally,  feels there is a well-oiled strategy to undermine Gachagua with a view to belittling him under the guise of selling ‘the generational card’ narrative.

He claimed Nyoro has been touring the country using choppers he claimed belonged to the President saying there was an elaborate scheme to portray an image of a divided Mt Kenya region.

Too early to start

“Nyoro is not intending to vie for the Presidency in 2027 and his momentum does not seem to be channelled to the 2032 Presidential bid because it would be too early to start that for now.

‘‘He is a tortoise placed on top of the table. He uses choppers that belong to the President and this means he does not fuel them. Even if you want to replace Gachagua with Nyoro, why can’t you wait for the right time,” he said on the vernacular TV morning show last week.

However, Mathira MP, Eric Wamumbi, an ally of Gachagua dismissed the leaders playing anti-Gachagua politics and equated them with children playing with toys while their parents are discussing serious affairs. He explained that Ruto and Gachagua were conjoined at the hip and that their relationship is okay.

‘‘The two leaders know each other and have a strong and vibrant chemistry, nobody can interfere with their working arrangement. Gachagua is fulfilling his duties as outlined in his job description and his relationship with his boss is okay.

‘‘Those making noise are like the small he-goats that make noise while their parents are busy looking for food,” said Wamumbi.

Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga said he had no reason to believe that there was any humiliation or political machination being plotted against Gachagua adding: ‘‘The President is on record saying he went through a very difficult time when he was the Deputy President and that he could not subject his deputy to, but I would say that politics is like the Kenya shilling that goes high and low at times.”