President Ruto addresses infighting and early campaigning in Kiambu county

Kiambu Governor kimani Wamatangi, Majority Leader Kimani Ichungwa, President William Ruto with Kiambu Governor and PS Charles Hinga to lay the foundation stone for the construction of the Soko Mjinga Market. [PCS]

Political turmoil in Kiambu County, fuelled by thirst for public resources, supremacy battles, and realignments for future elections, has transformed the region into a theatre of conflict.

The wrangles have split the county leadership, where about 70 out of 86 ward reps and a section of MPs are in Governor Kimani Wamatangi’s corner while the rest are coalescing around National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wa.

Ichung’wa has teamed up with Senator Karungo wa Thang’wa, MPs Njuguna Ka Wanjiku (Kiambaa), Alice Ng’ang’a (Thika), John Kiragu (Limuru), Gabriel Kagombe (Gatundu South) and Githua Wa Machukuru (Kabete) and few MCAs, in stepping up war against the governor.

In contrast, Gathoni Wa Muchomba (Githunguri) with several MCAs have boldly accused the Kikuyu MP of deliberately inciting conflicts targeted at the governor.

Ichung’wa, a third-term Kikuyu MP, is also grappling with allegations of sponsoring wars against the county chief.

Ann Wamuratha, the county Woman Representative, has emerged as a voice of reason amidst the chaos, advocating a more dignified approach to governance. Her calls for sobriety and cessation of name-calling and bickering underscore the importance of fostering constructive dialogue and collaboration among leaders for the betterment of the county.

President William Ruto, during his tour of Kiambu on Wednesday, was forced to wade into the wrangles.

Early campaigns

He warned leaders against infighting and early campaigns, promising to convene a meeting of Kiambu leaders.

Four months ago, while launching the Thika-Magumu road at Kamwangi shopping centre in Gatundu North, President Ruto issued the same warning to Kiambu leaders over the infighting.

During the tour, Thika Town MP Alice Ng’ang’a announced her bid for the Kiambu gubernatorial seat amidst jeers and cheers from residents.

Gathoni Wamuchomba has also shown interest in the seat but she is yet to declare her candidature.

“I want to ask leaders to slow down on politics and fighting. Let’s stop these early campaigns and focus on serving the people. I will soon have a meeting with them to end those fights,” Ruto said. 

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, who was in the entourage, was angered over the heckling from supporters, calling on them to stop dirty politics and instead allow the leaders to speak.

But in his defence, Ichung’wa said: “Even if I am an MP, I am an elected leader in Kiambu and therefore I have a responsibility to ask questions. We are asking about matters of public interest and we are not doing it in bad faith.”

Senator Karungo Thang’wa said he was not fighting the governor but was only playing his oversight role as the county’s senator.

Wamatangi blamed his attacks on some county elected leaders who were disgruntled with him for turning down their graft invitations, specifically to steal county funds through shady tenders and grabbing public land.

The governor claims his war began when he reclaimed a 100-acre plot of land in Gatuanyaga in Thika.

Land surrendered

He said the land was surrendered to the county by Del Monte during earlier regime but had already been taken and divided by people, including politicians.

He added that the battles intensified last year after Del Monte completed the surrender of another 695 acres, claiming some people were eyeing the property, from which the county eventually gazetted 325 acres for an Export Processing Zone (EPZ).

“Who is this that hates Kiambu so much that anytime we get peace, something must be plotted to take away that tranquility? I heard some people saying that this governor should be tamed because if he isn’t, he will be a problem to them in 2032,” said Wamatangi. 

He added: “I am focused on making Kiambu great again. But the target has been those grabbing public land and stealing county money. They think by attacking me, I will soften but I will not.”

Since his election, Wamatangi has been traversing the county, reviving projects that stalled in the previous regime, distributing chicks and fertiliser to Kiambu residents amidst criticism.

In his meetings, he is accompanied by a host of MCAs led Majority Leader Godfrey Mucheke who have been hurling attacks at his nemesis, among them Ichung’wa.

The anticipation is palpable as a scheduled meeting between President Ruto and elected leaders in Kiambu looms on the horizon.