A fractured ruling party, a simmering rebellion in his backyard and the slow implementation of the Big Four agenda could be the factors behind President Uhuru Kenyatta’s recent public displays of disaffection.
Last week’s outburst by the President against Jubilee rebels is likely to precipitate the disintegration of the ruling party in the countdown to the next elections.
His remarks on Sunday while addressing adherents of Akorino sect at Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi and ostensibly directed to his perceived critics were the latest in a series of hard-hitting speeches by the Head of state that seem to expose the pressures at his doorstep.
Cracking the whip
“I’m still the man to watch in this region, they should not mistake my silence for cowardice,” Uhuru said, before warning that he still commanded sway in how central would approach the next election.
“There have been some leaders who are campaigning and insulting me, I will go round the region and deal with them,” he added.
During the beginning of his second term, President Kenyatta unveiled the Big Four agenda that seeks to deliver food security, affordable housing, grow manufacturing and improve accessibility to healthcare by the end of his second term.
But the political goodwill that could catapult his ambitious legacy projects into a reality seems to have run out. Constant wrangles between MPs affiliated to his Jubilee Party, which controls both the Senate and the National Assembly, have derailed him somewhat.
From a united house, the legislators are now either allied to the Deputy President William Ruto’s Tanga Tanga or the rival Kieleweke factions. Some MPs who are more calculating remain neutral.
Now, most of the leaders are advocating for a parliamentary group meeting to seal the gaping differences in the giant party.
Recent events have also showed that the rivalry is likely to get uglier with at least two incidents in Murang’a County where suspected hired hecklers have appeared at Kieleweke functions.
“The President was always aware of the machinations in the 2017 Jubilee primaries though he did not wish to rattle the campaigns,” says MP Maore Maoka, who identifies himself with the Kieleweke team.
But as the internal party wrangles persist, the President’s blossoming friendship with the Opposition leader Raila Odinga complicates the healing journey further.
Political pundits believe that the disunity, increasing rebellion from the legislators - especially lawmakers from Mt Kenya region - and the uphill task the Government has in fulfilling the Big Four could be ‘haunting’ Uhuru.
“Under his nose, while he still has the oath of office, the country has moved on into campaigns and people have begun looking at a post-Uhuru administration. This to a sitting president should be disquieting,” says political commentator Javas Bigambo.
Dismas Mokua, another political analyst, agrees that Uhuru needs to bring together his party so that they can pull in the same direction to allow him to deliver.
To him, the President faces a complicated equation; balancing the interests of a fractured party and succession politics on one hand and his legacy on the other.
Nyeri Town MP Wambugu Ngunjiri says Uhuru’s anger is because he feels betrayed by the people he helped politically. “No leader in Mt Kenya region can claim that he did not have the blessings of the President for them to be elected. It is a pure case of betrayal for those who think that they can rebel against him now,” he says.
According to Ngunjiri, the politicians allied to the DP, though pledging allegiance to Uhuru, are preoccupied with the creation of a political fiefdom at the expense of helping the President implement the party’s manifesto.
The National Assembly Chief Whip Ben Washiali, however, feels the President’s comments only show that he is human. “Uhuru is genuine. When is he angry he shows it and it ends there. He is a good person and means well, it would be worse if he did not raise a voice but deal ruthlessly with those he disagreed with,” he says.