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Kajiado leaders divided as Uhuru, Ruto turf war rages

POLITICS
By Peterson Githaiga | September 6th 2020

Kajiado MCAs with Deputy President William Ruto at his Karen home on Friday. [Courtesy]

The succession battle between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto has created a rift among Kajiado leaders.

The political honeymoon between Kajiado Governor Joseph ole Lenku and Kajiado South MP Katoo ole Metito has ended after the two politicians differed over President Kenyatta’s succession.

Governor Lenku has embraced the Handshake between Uhuru and ODM leader Raila Odinga while Metito says he owes no one an apology for supporting Ruto's succession plan.

Ruto's side

Metito has been a key ally of President Kenyatta since 2013 but his move to decamp to Ruto's side is set to sour his political relationship with the governor, both from Kajiado South.

In the past few weeks, Ruto, whose strategists consider Kajiado one of his vote-hunting grounds, has intensified his political activities, meeting four delegations at his Karen home, much to the chagrin of President Kenyatta’s allies in Kajiado.

The first delegation was led by Metito and the way he rallied support for Ruto indicated he had severed political links with Uhuru.

The second delegation was taken to Karen by Senator Philip Mpaayei while the third was led by nominated senator Mary Seneta, who is eyeing the Kajiado East MP seat.

Other groups that have visited the DP include 25 local MCAs.

Metito’s move now sets the ground for the battle for Kajiado’s political soul between the MP and the governor.

The latter has been leading pro-Handshake forces in the county.

Lenku's appointment by President Kenyatta as the chairman of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) and a rare visit to Capitol Hill to meet Raila enhanced his position as the man the two leaders entrust with the Handshake politics of the county.

Uhuru and Ruto’s camps have been positioning themselves, with the governor and Kajiado North MP Joseph Manje remaining steadfast in the president’s corner.

Lenku has been joined by ODM's nominated senator Judy Pareno, who is said to be eyeing a county seat in 2022.

Governor Lenku has also won the heart of his foe-turned-friend Kajiado Central MP Memusi Kanchory. He also has the County Assembly Speaker Johnson Osoi and majority of the MCAs.

Ruto has Mpaayei, Katoo and Seneta.

Kajiado West MP George Sunkuyia is still flip-flopping between Tanga Tanga and Uhuru’s camp, owing to his attendance of meeting of both political formations.

On Tuesday, Lenku met 37 out of 41 MCAs in Ongata Rongai. They reaffirmed their support for the president and Raila in their efforts to unite the country.

Two days later, he told a chiefs' meeting convened by Interior CS Fred Matiang’i in Kajiado town that his political camp was steadfast in the Handshake team.

“I am committed to Kenyatta’s legacy building efforts in the last two years of his reign.

"We are satisfied that the efforts are best for this county. The Handshake is the real deal in Kajiado,” he said.

Ruto’s forays in Kajiado seem to have rattled the Handshake camp, with Memusi attacking the Karen delegations as the work of opportunists and handout seekers.

Speaking to the Sunday Standard on phone, Katoo said he owed no one an apology for supporting Ruto in his struggle to succeed Uhuru come the 2022 General Election.

He said since President Kenyatta will not be contesting, he has decided to support his deputy.

And Seneta said it's good succession politics is taking shape but declined to elaborate.

Lenku camp had a good week after receiving backing from three Cabinet Secretaries — Matiang’i and his colleagues Mutahi Kagwe (Health) and Keriako Tobiko (Environment) — when they visited Kajiado for a development tour on Thursday.

Premature campaigns

Tobiko threw the first salvo at Ruto and averred that Uhuru’s tenure was still active and that it was immoral to start premature campaigns.

Matiang’i was more blunt in his support for Lenku’s camp.

“Governor Lenku is the principal contact between the people of Kajiado and the government of President Kenyatta. All leaders need to work with him because we have confidence in him,” said the CS. 

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