Kirinyaga Governor Ann Waiguru is facing a major political test following her recent announcement that she could dump the Jubilee Party.
The governor hinted at joining Deputy President William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) whose face in Kirinyaga is Woman Representative Wangui Ngirichi.
The clearest indication that Waiguru is caught between a rock and a hard place was when she told her supporters that she would join the party of their choice.
”If they question this, I will say that my people directed me to join their party of choice,” Waiguru said in Jericho, Thiba ward, when her supporters urged her to join UDA.
Another factor that puts the first-term governor in a precarious situation is her dalliance with President Uhuru Kenyatta and her political friendship with Opposition chief Raila Odinga after the handshake.
After a truce between Raila and Uhuru, Waiguru visited the ODM leader at his Capital Hill office and went ahead to withdraw defamation charges she had filed against him following the latter’s remarks that linked her to the National Youth Service scandal.
Waiguru has also interacted well with political bigwigs who include Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi and Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka who recently visited her in Kirinyaga.
This makes it difficult for her to be combative and to become a harsh critic of any of the leaders. This could be informing her move to keep her fingers crossed and waiting for an opportunity to present itself.
Waiguru has been Uhuru’s loyal supporter and a Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) champion. She crisscrossed her country campaigning for BBI.
While campaigning for BBI, Waiguru attacked Deputy President William Ruto and came up with the slogan “you can’t buy a Kikuyu, you can only rent one,” a phrase that was interpreted to mean that leaders from Mt Kenya following the DP were doing so for personal gain and would be back into Uhuru’s fold.
She was a leading light of “Embrace”, a women-led BBI campaign machine that sold the document across the country but after the courts annulled the BBI process, she announced she had gone into “self-introspection”.
But is Waiguru welcome in UDA? Although Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua has welcomed Waiguru and others willing to join the party, Ngirichi says “she should çome slowly” and understand she (Ngirichi) is part of the founder members of UDA.
“She should offer a public apology to some of us in UDA and to the deputy president. We are okay when members join the winning party, although to me she is not adding value to UDA. I think she hopes to use the party’s popularity to recapture her seat,” Ngirichi said.
Ngirichi has announced her bid to challenge Waiguru for the county’s top job through UDA party.
The Kirinyaga politics is another key factor giving the governor sleepless nights.
The governor does not see eye to eye with Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho, who seeks to control the county politics.
Kibicho enjoys a cordial working relationship with President Kenyatta and is one of the president’s trusted men.
Their rivalry was laid bare over the proposed construction of Sh15 billion Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) when Waiguru was reluctant to surrender the land until an Memorandum of Understanding was signed.
With Mashujaa Day celebrations scheduled for next week in Kirinyaga County, Waiguru, Kibicho and Ngirichi have been forced to work together but they are clear that they are only temporarily suspending their political rivalry because of the respect they have for the presidency.
In the preparations, Kibicho and Ngirichi seem to be reading from the same script as opposed to Waiguru.
The two have been crisscrossing the county with other leaders but Waiguru is a no-show in all the meetings.
Pundits believe that Waiguru is like the proverbial cat that has nine lives and that a political opportunity will present itself just like was the case when she left the Devolution ministry and was elected Kirinyaga County’s second governor.
“We thought her career was over but she astonished many when she was elected governor. I believe she is holding her cards very close to her chest and her next political move could surprise many,” said James Irungu, a political commentator.
Meanwhile, Waiguru says she will make a major political declaration after the Mashujaa Day celebrations.