The vote-rich Mt Kenya region will be a focal point for political watchers in 2019 as alignments ahead of the 2022 Uhuru succession takes root.
Former Gatanga MP, Uhuru loyalist and current Jubilee Party vice-chair David Murathe, stocked political fires when he recently declared that Central Kenya voters would not automatically pick Deputy President William Ruto, the presumed heir-apparent, for the big job when Uhuru retires in 2022 since, in his own words, the Kikuyu community does not owe him any political debt for joining forces with Uhuru ahead of the 2013 presidential elections.
Murathe made the remarks during the Maragoli Cultural Festival in Vihiga where he let it known that Central Kenya, and by extension the Mt Kenya region, will support former Vice President Musalia Mudavadi if the Luhya Nation agrees to rally behind his candidature.
Earlier, Jubilee chairman and Cabinet Secretary without portfolio Raphael Tuju had also intimated that Ruto was not an automatic candidate and Jubilee party’s top brass would pick its candidate when the time comes.
As expected, Ruto’s lieutenants, including Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen, dismissed Murathe, arguing that only Uhuru can undo his pre-2013 deal with Ruto that saw him secure tenancy at the House on the Hill against a formidable offensive fronted by Raila Odinga.
“Like Winston Churchill said, you will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks” said Murkomen whose sentiments were echoed by his National Assembly counterpart Aden Duale and Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru- who is widely viewed as one potential running mate for Ruto in 2022.
Other political haters dismissed Murathe in view of him being a non-entity in Uhuru Succession as he’s a non-elected party official holding a position out of goodwill. But those in the know are cognizant of the fact that Murathe is a key cog in Uhuru’s Kitchen Cabinet and is often consulted on matters politics.
The two come a long way as Murathe was Uhuru’s aide at Treasury when he was Minister for Finance in retired President Mwai Kibaki’s ‘Nusu Mkate’ government in which he also served as Deputy Prime Minister in 2008.
Those in the know also say Murathe was one of the forces behind the pre-2013 deal that would have seen Mudavadi handed the Jubilee presidential ticket when Uhuru and Ruto were fighting, among others, crimes against humanity charges related to the post-2007 election violence at the International Criminal Court at The Hague, Netherlands, before the agreement collapsed following its rejection by political backers from Central Kenya.
Before visiting Vihiga, Murathe had hosted Mudavadi at his home though he downplayed their discussions, stating they were meeting as old friends. Both studied at the prestigious St Mary’s School in Nairobi as did President Uhuru before Murathe and Mudavadi reunited at the University of Nairobi.
During a media roundtable at State House Mombasa Uhuru appeared to dismiss Murathe’s position saying Jubilee will decide on the matter at the right time, but what was not lost on observers was his earlier assertion that he will shock Kenyans on his choice of successor considering besides Ruto there is also Raila, Mudavadi and former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka.
Raila and Mudavadi are rooting for a referendum as a necessity in enhancing inclusivity in the national government structure, a position Ruto is viciously opposed to saying it is mean to create positions for individuals.
In this, Mudavadi has the support of politicians from Central Kenya and its diaspora, mainly consisting of former MPs including; former Nyeri Senator Mutahi Kagwe, former Nyandarua Senator Muriuki Karue, former Murang’a Senator and Senate Deputy Speaker Kembi Gitura, former Roads assistant minister Joshua Toro and former Kasarani MP John Njoroge. Other key players to watch in the region include Senate Deputy Speaker Kithure Kindiki, whose star had begun to rise before it took a fall after controversy hit Ruto’s ‘Sky Team.’
But he is seen as a sober politician who can easily gain tract in the region if he gets into the core of the Uhuru succession matrix.