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The Rigathi Gachagua factor in growing discontent in Mount Kenya region

Lady Speak
 Deputy President William Ruto with his running mate Rigathi Gachagua arrive for a political rally at Kamukunji grounds on June 4, 2022. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard

Restlessness surrounding the nomination of Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua as Deputy President William Ruto’s running mate is rocking the Kenya Kwanza coalition boat with a section of leaders faulting his style of politics.

Besides issuing controversial remarks that he claims have been distorted to perpetuate a narrative that he was not the best choice for Ruto, Gachagua has also been on the receiving end after United Democratic Alliance (UDA) affiliate parties accused him of “sidelining them and plotting to embarrass them in political rallies.”

UDA affiliate parties that have raised concern over their treatment in Kenya Kwanza rallies include Chama Cha Kazi led by Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, former Kiambu governor William Kabogo’s Wakenya Tujibebe party, Irungu Nyakera’s  Farmers Party and The Service Party of former Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri.

The alliance has 12 parties but UDA, Moses Wetang’ula’s Ford Kenya and Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress are listed by the registrar of political parties as the founding parties.

Eight others, which have their roots in Mt Kenya region, feel disoriented amid claims power will only be shared by the three founder parties. Two of these parties have their roots in Western region while UDA, is solely Ruto’s special purpose vehicle for the presidency.

Coalition agreement

Before entering into a coalition agreement with ANC and Ford-K, Ruto was categorical that his party would not enter into any coalition agreement with small parties from Mt Kenya region and demanded that they fold and join his national party, UDA. Ruto, however, backtracked on his earlier stand following growing discontent in the region, choosing to enter into an agreement with parties.

UDA’s legal secretary Edward Muriu declare they did not have a coalition agreement with the small parties.

“We don’t have a coalition agreement with Kabogo and all the other parties. What we have is a cooperation agreement which is more or less a post-election pact. We only have a coalition agreement with ANC and Ford Kenya,” said Muriu.

Last month, Kabogo claimed the power sharing deal shortchanged Mt Kenya which only got the running mate post which was given to UDA, reducing them to spectators.

Things haven’t been made any easier by Gachagua’s insistence on the electorate to give them UDA legislators to enable Ruto, should he win the election, have enough numbers to run government business.

“We have no problem with our affiliates but I will need soldiers who will defend the government through the ruling party and hence the reason we are popularising and campaigning for UDA candidates,” Gachagua said, when sought for comment.

There are those who view this as a way of Gachagua presenting himself as a top leader within the party keen to grow his influence in the region.

This, according to politician Mwangi Nganga, could make Gachagua as strong as Ruto was during Uhuru’s first term.

“Ruto consolidated his support base in Rift Valley. The elected leaders and appointed leaders owe their allegiance to him and not the President who is the appointing authority. Gachagua is following in  the footsteps of Ruto in readiness of whipping the region,” Nganga said.

Gachagua is holding nothing back and is on record dismissing political parties in the region that “claim to agitate for the place of Mt Kenya region in Ruto’s government.”

“The region’s interests are ably represented by leaders from Mt Kenya region who are members of UDA,” he says.

Other than the jostling for power and positions, another source of conflict is succession politics.

Kabogo appears to have a problem with Gachagua’s moves, probably because of his experience and seniority in politics.

“I’m the de facto leader of Mt Kenya region and he (Gachagua) is bitter about it. He can’t marshall huge numbers even in his home county while I have the following and influence,” said Kabogo.

Earlier this week, Kabogo and Kuria skipped rallies in Githunguri, Gatundu South and North where Gachagua urged residents to only vote for UDA candidates.

An altercation between Senator Kimani Wamatangi and Kabogo during Kenya Kwanza’s tour of Kiambu also left little doubt on the fierce rivalry wracking the alliance.

Kuria claimed the altercation was a wider scheme by UDA to silence him and Kabogo.


“We feel unwanted in the campaign rallies. I chose to boycott the rally. They don’t want us to campaign for ourselves and our candidates,” he said on phone.

Nyeri County Assembly Speaker John Kaguchia said the flexing of muscles between Kabogo and Gachagua on succession politics.

“Kabogo believes he has the political acumen compared to Gachagua and that is why he is even claiming that he will make Ruto lose votes. He is seeking to succeed Uhuru to be the region’s kingpin,”said Kaguchia.

Political commentator Njuguna Thuita opines Ruto could have embraced the parties to quell growing discontent.

“The parties lacked impetus and were swallowed by Ruto’s wave while Ruto saw an opportunity to embrace them for the sole reason of quelling the noise by Kuria and others. But from the word go, Ruto counted Mt Kenya region as his stronghold,” he said.

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