Why Rigathi Gachagua's campaign against killer brews in Mt Kenya must succeed

When police raided a secret den where illicit brew is cooked. [James Omoro, Standard]

To Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, there are no two ways about the success of the fight against illicit brew and drugs in Mt Kenya region. The war must be won at whatever cost.

On Friday he breathed fire speaking about the incident in Kingai Kirinyaga County where scores died after consuming illicit stuff from a local pub.

According to political pundits, in Mt Kenya region, for one to become their kingpin, they must identify a social problem and solve it to win the hearts of voters.

Every politician looks for the kingpin in the region because when his name is pronounced, women, the majority of the voters, wail in frenzy due to his ability to pull crowds. It is his ability to handle volatile political situations affecting the people that makes him the kingpin.

Many leaders from Mt Kenya region contend that holding the senior most political position in the Agikuyu community is not a direct ticket to becoming the regional kingpin.

According to Kikuyu Council of Elders (KCE) chairperson Wachira Kiago, despite the third President, the late Mwai Kibaki, holding the presidency, he did not become the region’s kingpin but his successor Uhuru Kenyatta did.

"To be eligible for the position with no office and allowance but yet an influential title, one must have helped to champion the community's interests, defend the region and its people during calamities. 

Uhuru's commitment to 'defend the region' after the post-election violence made him the kingpin,” Kiago reminisces.

Fight against illicit brew is deemed to be Gachagua's master card to win the peoples’ minds and that is why he is ruthless on whoever stands his way to eradicate the vice in the region.

Gachagua is also in the frontline to agitate for better prices for coffee, tea, and milk which are the main source of livelihoods.

Gachagua is on the record saying he is ready to pay the ultimate political price if that is what it will take to rid the Mt Kenya region of illicit alcohol which he said risks wiping out the entire generation of youths.

“We will not relent in this war. Many people have tried to dissuade me from it, but we will not," he said.

Gachagua also said there is no pride in leading a drunken population that is unproductive to the families and community.

“There is no need for one to lead a drunk population. There is no pride in being the Deputy President and everywhere I go, people are staggering and sleeping in ditches for being alcoholics," he said.

"I would like to lead sober and dignified people; people who are prosperous, smart and work hard and take care of themselves and their families.” 

So personal and compassionate Gachagua is determined to eradicate the killer brews that his spouse Dorcas Rigathi is leading one front of the fight against illicit liquor through her Office of the Spouse of Deputy President (OSDP) to drive a boy child empowerment programme focused to redeem young men and women who have been lost in drinking.

While her husband is engaged on the hardware part of the fight which includes amendment of laws to tighten the grip of illicit liquor, Pastor Dorcas’s campaign entails a rigorous screening of the addicts and taking the most deserving to rehabilitation centres.

That explains why the tough talking DP Gachagua on Friday announced the recalling of the security team in Kirinyaga County where people died after consuming illicit brew while 23 others lost their sight.

The officers led by the County Commissioner Tobiko Naiyoma, Police Commander Reuben Muli, criminal investigations boss and Administration Police commandant have been recalled to Nairobi headquarters with immediate effect. 

“A new team of security personnel led by the county commissioner and police commander will be in Kirinyaga by Saturday. They will do a thorough security operation to eradicate the illicit brews in the county. An inquiry will be opened to unearth who slept on his mandate,” he said.

Gachagua said the Kenya Kwanza administration will not transfer any officer who has failed on his duty saying doing so was tantamount to transferring a problem announcing that instead such officers will be fired.

The Deputy President while referring to his April last year meeting with the security and leadership team in Nyeri accused the police officers and chiefs and their assistants of laxity and condoning sale of killer brews due to bribes saying he will be summoning them soon for a show cause.

“I sat with all the County Criminal Investigations Officers (CCIOs), intelligence officers and police officers and we agreed that the nonsense must stop but now we are asking where was the county commissioner, county police commander, it is because your work is collecting bribes from these people that people have died,” Gachagua said.

He also blamed the courts for releasing the suspect who operated the pub that sold the killer brew in Kirinyaga. 

“Judges ought to be patriotic and reasonable, how do you apply the law to the detriment of the people that you serve,” he posed.

"Public officers who are active in the alcohol business have been mentioned as the main challenge in the war against counterfeit alcohol," Gachagua said.