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Uhuru prepares Sagana meeting as Ruto courts MCAs in battle for Mt Kenya

By Ndungu Gachane | January 23rd 2021 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Agriculture CS Peter Munya. [Boniface Gikandi, Standard]

Political activities in Mt Kenya region have reached fever pitch, with leaders allied to both President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto pulling in different directions.

As the president’s allies, who include government officials, plan for a leaders’ meeting at Sagana State Lodge next week to strategise on how to drum up support for the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), Ruto’s group is hosting MCAs from across the region in Murang’a today.

Those in the know said all is set for the Sagana meeting where the president is set to galvanise his support base as the BBI process enters the crucial stage after verification of signatures, paving way for a referendum.

“We have a meeting this weekend in Nairobi to finalise on the Sagana convention, which will bring together both elected and government officials from the region. We are also targeting grassroots leaders since it will not be a one-day event,” said a government official involved in the preparations for the meeting.

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“The kind of momentum we are going to gather after the president’s meeting will surprise many. We have been quiet but we are now determined to go full throttle. You just wait and see.”

This is a follow-up to a meeting held last week at La Mada Hotel in Nairobi, chaired by Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya.

Cabinet Secretaries and senior government officials have pitched tent in Mt Kenya region showcasing the Government’s achievements in what observers see as a way of “regaining lost ground”.

Unlike before where public participation on passage of laws has taken just hours in different counties, Munya has devised a new way in his forums to drum up support for the reforms in the coffee sector.

Since the beginning of the month, the CS has been in the region spending at least three days in each of the counties in well-organised forums.

On the other hand, MCAs allied to Ruto from across the 10 counties in the region will be meeting at Thika Greens in Murang’a today, while another team will be in Nyahururu next weekend to chart the way forward and give their stand on the BBI issue, which has divided the region.

Ruto’s allies have clustered counties in three groups where they are scheduled to meet the ward representatives to discuss BBI and his 2022 presidential bid.

Already, the allies have met MCAs from Meru, Isiolo and Tharaka Nithi, which formed the first group that had an inaugural meeting on Saturday last week.

Today, Tangatanga leaders will meet MCAs from Kiambu, Nairobi, Murang’a, Kirinyaga and Embu while the last meeting at Nyahururu town on January 30 will be targeting MCAs in Nyeri, Nyandarua, Nakuru and Laikipia.

Forty-two Meru MCAs attended the meeting alongside five from Isiolo, five from Tharaka Nithi, and 19 from Kirinyaga. There were also a couple of MCAs from Nyeri and Kiambu. MPs Rahim Dawood (North Imenti) and Josephat Gichunge (Tigania West) also attended.

Charm offensive

The steering committee of the Mt Kenya MCAs meeting includes Chinga MCA Kiruga Thuku, Gatanga’s Nahashon Gachuhi, Ken Mukira (Nyandarua), Kinyua Wangui (Kirinyaga), Elias Murage (Meru), Peter Mbae (Nakuru), Robarto Maina (Laikipia) and Mr Ikonya from Kiambu.

It is understood that after the meeting today, the allies will then select their representatives who will lead a charm offensive campaigns at the grassroots to popularise Ruto’s bid.

“We have requested the deputy president to attend the ceremony and he said he will if he will be available,” said Thuku, adding that they will not discuss BBI. 

Ruto’s Spokesman David Mugonyi, however, said he was not aware that his boss will attend the meeting, answering in a brief text message, “There is nothing like that.”

Mt Kenya region Assemblies Caucus representative Charles Ng’ang’a said Ruto’s allies have been wooing them to oppose the BBI report in a bid to flex their muscles and to prove that although the region is perceived as President Kenyatta’s stronghold, they have been able to turn tables.

“We have been approached on how we shall reject the BBI report in the region. They argue that the proposed Ward Development Fund is just but a sweetener and a bait for us to approve the report but they are telling us that the State has been unable to release development monies from the Treasury and will not be able to implement the proposal,” said Ng’ang’a.

“However, I urge MCAS to reject such gimmicks and approve the report due to the gains that the region will get. Other than ward fund, there are other proposals like the revenue sharing formula and representation that favours our region, Ruto’s allies are only interested in settling political scores but the report seeks to cater for our interests.”

President Uhuru Kenyatta with his deputy William Ruto (left). [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Parliamentary caucus

Kieleweke’s side is also not sitting pretty, they have been grouping through caucuses; parliamentary caucus that brings together MPs, senators and women representatives chaired by Kirinyaga Senator Charles Kibiru, governors caucus led by Nyandarua Governor Francis Kimemia, speakers forum and the County Assemblies Forum who are yet to meet and select their representatives.

The clergy and opinion leaders will also form their caucuses after which all the representatives will meet and form an umbrella coordinating group, which will be in charge of logistics and communication.

They will be tasked with conducting a massive civic education drive and explaining to the locals about the BBI document in a bid to puncture the narrative by the Tangatanga group.

Murang’a Woman Rep Sabina Chege said they decided to go the caucus way instead of joining Senate Majority Whip Irungu Kang’ata in “causing confusion in Mt Kenya region”.

“This is a gain to all of us and any single effort to popularise the BBI is welcome, not to cry wolf like Kangata did,” she said.

Mt Kenya region President Uhuru Kenyatta DP Willam Ruto
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