Deputy President William Ruto with Taita Taveta Woman Representative Lydia Haika (centre) and Taveta MP Naomi Shaban during a meeting at Luma conservancy. [DPPS]

Deputy President William Ruto has acquired new political allies while others have deserted him in Taita Taveta County.

The DP made two visits last week as he seeks to wrest the county from opposition leader Raila Odinga, who has enjoyed overwhelming support in the region.

Former Governor John Mruttu joined Dr Ruto’s bandwagon during a leaders’ meeting at Lumi Community Wildlife Sanctuary in Mwatate Sub-County last Friday.

New supporters

Other leaders who have crossed to Ruto’s side are Challa Ward Representative Omar Nguzo (Muungano Party), his Mgange-Mwanda counterpart Anselm Mwadime (independent) and former MCAs Celestine Mwakio and Flumence Mshila.

Former Wundanyi MP Thomas Mwadeghu is also reported to be warming up to the DP.

Ruto’s key allies in the region include Taveta MP Naomi Shaban and Taita Taveta Woman Representative Lydia Haika.

Mr Mruttu, Ms Shaban and Ms Haika, all from the minority Taveta community, will spearhead Ruto’s presidential campaigns in the county.

The former governor was officially received by the DP at the leaders’ meeting last Friday. ODM and Wiper Party legislators boycotted the meeting

But as the DP received new allies to bolster his presidential bid in Coast region, some of his key allies among them former Senator Dan Mwazo, MPs Jones Mlolwa (Voi), Dan Mwashako (Wundanyi) and Andrew Mwadime (Mwatate) appear to have deserted him. Mwazo contested the governorship in 2017 but lost.

Governor Granton Samboja also abandoned him last year, opting to throw his weight behind Raila. Ruto and Samboja differed over the planned dissolution of the county government.

Recently, the governor confirmed that he supports ODM and the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila.

Mwazo, who vied for governorship on a Jubilee party ticket, did not attend Ruto’s two meetings last week.

According to his close allies, the former Cabinet minister has distanced himself from the ruling coalition following his sacking by the president as the Kenya Ferry Services chairman.

“Mwazo has been skipping the DP’s meetings in the region and is no longer interested in Jubilee Party. He is now fighting for his political survival by strategising how he will win the gubernatorial seat in the next General Election. The politician is now weighing his options and contemplating rejoining ODM,” said a close ally of the former senator.

Mlolwa, Mwashako and Mwadime have been close allies of the DP but have of late been quiet and skipped his meetings in the region. They have in the past been accompanying the DP on his tours in the region.

Not invited

Yesterday, Mwashako told The Standard that the DP did not invite him to his meetings last week.

The youthful politician said he was still a Wiper party legislator and had not abandoned his party leader Kalonzo Musyoka for the DP.

“In fact, the former VP is the right candidate to succeed President Kenyatta when his second term express in 2022. He is the compromise presidential candidate and Raila Odinga will support his presidential bid,” said Mwashako.

Mlolwa and Mwadime were not available for comment.