Limuru III is a vehicle for personal ambitions, not community interests


Former Ndaragwa Mp Jeremiah Kioni, Narc Kenya leader Martha Karu and former Governor Ndiritu Mureithi pray during Limuru 3 meeting at the Jumuiya center in Limuru. [George Njunge, Standard]

The Limuru III conference was intended to be a warning shot across the bow of the Kenya Kwanza (KK) government. It ended up being a veritable tower of babel with multiple agendas none of them coming together to make an ensemble. First, it was about the “one man, one shilling” revenue-sharing agenda allegedly because Central Kenya had been denied its share of the national cake.

Then it morphed into the endorsement of an outfit called Haki Coalition with former president Uhuru Kenyatta named as its leader. The outfit was ostensibly for the purpose of fielding a presidential candidate in 2027. The conference also resolved to protect the Deputy President (DP) Rigathi Gachagua from any political aggression, supposedly stemming from other leading KK lights.

A deconstruction of these arguments reveals them to be risible. The Mt Kenya community already holds a significant share of the government. Alongside the Rift Valley, it not only takes the lead when it comes to the distribution of public offices but has also been the beneficiary of the greater part of the development agenda. Anyone purporting to enhance this share of resources would be on a fool’s errand.

For Uhuru, taking leadership of the Haki Coalition would be a climbdown from leader of the nation to ethnic spokesman. It would detract greatly from the stature of statesmen held by Kenya’s retired presidents. It would thrust him into the murky business of national politics with benefit only to those seeking to ride on his name for the brand equity it carries. Curiously, the former president has not pronounced himself on the matter of his appointment.

Scourge of alcoholism

Similarly, purporting to protect Gachagua from contrived persecution is a gambit to ride on the indignation of the Mt Kenya community for political gain. The DP has not complained of exclusion from the government. If anything, he has been at the core of furthering community interests through tea and coffee sector reforms and ridding the region of the scourge of alcoholism. He too has not identified with his purported defenders.

Limuru III was noteworthy for the number of politicians who failed to capture elective seats. Most of them had not gotten sinecures usually given to supporters of the winning political formation. From the foregoing, the conference comes across as a vehicle for the enhancement of personal ambitions but disguised as community interests.

If the convenors intended to ride the ethnic wave into the next government, they have neglected a crucial detail. The Mt Kenya voter is moved, not so much by tribal fealty as by business interests.

Uhuru, in the last days of his administration, discovered that the anti-counterfeit campaign and the cargo consolidation policy had hurt the business interests of the community and eroded his appeal. Those attempting to rid the coffee industry of 'cartels' are discovering that sector reforms are a poisoned chalice with political repercussions.

Fixing the national economy may endear the Mt Kenya community’s large voting bloc to those who do it. But it is disingenuous to overlook the fact that the country’s parlous economic and financial traits have their genesis in the last administration. The community will not be hoodwinked by those who promise quick fixes.

Mr Khafafa is a public policy analyst