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Succession politics in Mt Kenya dominate Muthoni Kirima burial

 DP Rigathi Gachagua speaks during the burial ceremony of Muthoni Kirima at Kinunga Stadium, Nyeri, on September 22, 2023. [Kibata Kihu, Standard]

The burial ceremony of liberation heroine Muthoni Kirima was reduced to a theatre of political showmanship between government-allied leaders and those from the opposition, with Mt Kenya region succession politics also taking centre stage.

The leaders tore each other apart with those in government castigating their opposition counterparts for what they described as using violence as a platform to demand for talks to enter government through the back door.

At the same time, Mt Kenya leaders decided to use the platform to remind their colleagues to respect Agikuyu’s senior-most political leader, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, and to support him in his endeavours.

At the burial ceremony held at Kinunga stadium in Tetu, which was attended by Gachagua and the opposition led by Wiper Leader Kalonzo Musyoka and former CS Eugene Wamalwa, both teams outshined each other.

While the leaders refrained from using names, they hinted at the ongoing cold war between Gachagua and Trade Industry and Investment Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria that saw the former caution the latter while addressing Kenyans especially on the cost of fuel.

 Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga insisted that there is need for the community leaders to rally behind Gachagua and support him, warning that it was not time to agitate for kingship position as it was already occupied.

“All leaders from Gikuyu, Embu, Meru (Gema) must understand that there is no vacuum in the kingship position and they must understand that ears have never surpassed horns; we are all under Gachagua,” he maintained.

Political turmoil

Nyeri Senator Wahome Wamatinga asked his colleagues to understand that only Gachagua could save the region in case of political turmoil, insisting that every leader in government ought to support the Deputy President.

“If our community faces a situation like that of 42 against one, only Gachagua has the capacity to save us. We should not have traitors in our government who will betray our region and our son Gachagua,” said the Senator.

East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) MP Kanini Kega said: “Let us reduce infighting, let us understand that Gachagua is our leader and when we walk together we shall win. Let us shun from creating factions which are not necessary and healthy for our community in the 2027 elections.”

Kuria, who attended the event, avoided the debate and only acknowledged Gachagua as his boss while asking him to use his position to help the Mau Mau freedom fighters to attain justice.

When he rose to speak, Gachagua downplayed fears that there was infighting between him and Kuria, saying there can never be a fight between a worker and their employer.

“When Kuria goes offbeat, I just bring him back to the fold and there is no problem because once beaten twice shy. We are still united,” he said.

He, however, urged the community leaders to unite and told them that their unity was their strength.

 Mourners follow proceedings during the burial of Field Marshal Muthoni Kirima at Kinunga Stadium in Nyeri. [Kibata Kihu, Standard]

Gachagua warned those who may want to walk alone that buffaloes don’t walk together because of their love for each other but because of the impending danger.

At the same time, Gachagua appreciated the community’s uniqueness, noting that despite leaders holding different stands, they always unite when their interests are threatened.

“A classic example when during the Eala elections, when our interests were threatened we put all our differences apart and voted as a team and that is why we voted Kega in alongside our people in the region,” added Gachagua.

He said his first duty was to assist the President to deliver on his mandate, and his second was to champion the interests of the Mt Kenya region.

Leaders accompanying Gachagua criticised their counterparts in Azimio coalition led by Kalonzo Musyoka and Eugene Wamalwa accusing them of being hypocritical by failing to accept defeat in last year’s presidential election.

Naivasha MP Jane Kihara said: “While Mau Mau freedom fighters fought for all the communities in Kenya but it’s unfortunate that the Opposition is calling for secession while seeking for their selfish interests pretending to be agitating for Kenyans rights.”

Murang’a Woman Representative Betty Maina took a swipe at Kalonzo and accused him of betraying the honour given to him by the third President Mwai Kibaki.

In response, Kalonzo scolded the leaders for being sycophantic and asked them to face the truth.

“I was not given the Vice Presidency from silver platter, I earned for it.” He said and added “When the Kibaki government was going to the dogs, I filled the vacuum. On the issue of the ongoing talks leaders must understand that we are not in Bomas to be managed we seek to unite this country which is divided right at the middle,” 

Kalonzo used the opportunity to remind Gachagua to walk the talk in his quest of being ‘a truthful man’ claiming he lied by claiming he had gone to State House to feast to paint him as untrusted in the face of Kenyans.

On his part, Wamalwa said in the spirit of being truthful, it was essential for the government to admit that the high cost of living was afflicting Kenyans and that the only way to solve the problem was through dialogue.

“When things are okay, we shall praise government and congratulate it but when life is unbearable we must tell them that they have taken the prices of food from bottom to up,” he said.

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