Trouble in Uhuru's 'bedroom' as allies switch camps

Kiambu Woman Rep Gathoni wa Muchomba.

Kiambu Woman Rep Gathoni wa Muchomba, a key ally of President Uhuru Kenyatta, has moved to Deputy President Willam Ruto’s camp.

Gathoni and MPs David Gikaria (Nakuru Town East) and Samwel Gachobe (Subukia) met Ruto at his official residence in Karen, Nairobi, yesterday, and vowed to support his presidential bid.

The three MPs were staunch supporters of Jubilee’s Kieleweke wing allied to Uhuru and their exit is likely to boost campaigns for United Democratic Alliance (UDA) candidate in the Kiambaa by-election, John Njuguna Wanjiku.

Out of the 13 MPs in Uhuru’s Kiambu backyard, nine have joined Ruto’s wing. They include Gabriel Kago (Githunguri), Kimani Ichung’wa (Kikuyu), Moses Kuria (Gatundu South), Githua Wamacukuru (Kabete), Wanjiku Kibe (Gatundu North), Patrick Muiruri (Thika), Jonah Mburu (Lari), George Koimburi (Juja) and Ng’ang’a King’ara (Ruiru).

With Kiambaa by-elections yet to be decided, MPs Peter Mwathi (Limuru) and Jude Njomo (Kiambu) and Senator Kimani Wamatangi are the only ones remaining in President Kenyatta’s stead. Gathoni told The Standard she took a back seat to read the mood of the people of Kiambu and consulted them on her next move.

“Upon consultation with the Kiambu electorate and myself, I have made this decision to ditch the party that took me to Parliament and ride on what my people want,” she said.

“I have listened to what the people of Kiambu are telling me, I have taken their advice and am now firmly in support of Ruto to succeed President Kenyatta. The hustler nation ideology and the bottom-up economy resonates with majority residents of Kiambu County,” she added.

The Woman Rep said Jubilee’s planned merger with ODM was against the will of the people.

”Personally I won’t join ODM. We campaigned as Jubilee and won as Jubilee; this business of merger without consultation is what we are resisting now,” Gathoni stated.

She further accused Jubilee luminaries of not consulting them on plans to join hands with ODM ahead of 2022 polls.

Kiambu Women Representative Gathoni Wa Muchomba in Central on 4/03/17. [File, Standard]

Taken by surprise

“We were not consulted nor informed; we were taken by surprise by the party’s move. The ground is saying otherwise, we must be where the people are and that is where I am moving to without regrets,” Gathoni said.

She added that she has been silent for more than three months weighing her options, noting that her absence from the public limelight had sparked anxiety which she sought to quell by her action.

“I was well received by the DP and now I know I shall work hand in hand with him,” she said.

Earlier in the day, photos of Gathoni with Ruto, Ichung’wa and Macukuru were doing rounds on social media.

Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru and Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu yesterday decried Gathoni’s exit from the Kieleweke wing saying she was a valuable asset.

“Knowing her well, I am sure that she has thought this through and she believes she’s doing the right thing. I don’t agree with her, but this doesn’t change the respect I have for her,” Wambugu said.

He said for those like him who were still supporting Jubilee, this was a lesson and warning to focus on fixing the ruling party to stem further loss of supporters.

Ms Waiguru said Jubilee party needed ‘serious introspection’ and warned that if it was not careful, it would continue to lose members.

“A party’s strength is dependent on the quality of its members and more so strong ones as opposed to having bureaucrats running the party living on directives that eventually end up making the party to lose its popular foot soldiers,” she said.

The new move comes after Jubilee lost to Gatundu South MP’s People Empowerment Party (PEP) candidate George Koimburi in the Juja parliamentary by-election. PEP is associated with the DP.

Last month, Gathoni gave an indication that she was considering her political affiliation after Jubilee lost the Juja by-election.

“From my recent experiences in Juja, I will remain ‘hapa nyuma ya hema’ (behind the tent) just to listen and learn, na huku nyuma ya hema tuko wengi leo (and behind the tent we are many),” she said.

When reached for comment, Gathoni told The Standard yesterday that after soul searching for almost a month, she arrived at the decision to support DP Ruto’s presidential bid following the overwhelming support he enjoyed in Kiambu.

“It was a difficult decision but following the outcome of the Juja by-election it goes without saying that DP Ruto enjoys support in the county,” she told The Standard on phone. She said she has already notified the Jubilee party secretariat of her intention to support Ruto, but disclosed that she was still in Jubilee and had not defected from the party.

Gathoni said she would campaign for UDA in the upcoming Kiambaa by-election slated for July 15.

Yesterday, Ichung’wa said Jubilee was a collapsing house and the sooner people left the party the better.

“We are many who have left Jubilee and we shall officially leave at an opportune moment. Githunguri MP Kago wa Lydia was here as was (Nakuru East Town MP David) Gikaria,” he said.

He added that UDA was the future of this country and any politician keen on keeping his political star shinning must look at where life is and the party that people are identifying themselves with.

“Jubilee is our bad past; our terrible past. Soon we shall move en masse to UDA, especially the Kiambu politicians, and I can bet anything on this,” Ichung’wa said.

Kimani denied reports that he facilitated Gathoni’s visit to Karen, saying the DP’s was a public office accessible to all and therefore she did not need to be facilitated to go there.

“Almost all governors from Mt Kenya are hustlers. We are in talks with several Cabinet and principal secretaries and others with political ambitions. Most MPs except about five from Mt Kenya are hustlers. Expect major transfers by August. Intimidation has limits,” said Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro.

The defections sparked jubilation in the National Assembly, with Tangatanga MPs congratulating them.