In the last three weeks, Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria has been on a charm offensive in the Mt Kenya region in what the political pundits believe is a way of positioning himself as its spokesperson.
On March 26, Kuria threw a party for over 100 leaders at his palatial home at Thika Greens where five governors, Principal Secretaries, Chief Administrative Secretaries, and other top government officials attended.
The first of its kind to have been conducted since the Kenya Kwanza administration took over, the meeting brought together over 20 MPs where it was agreed that they will be meeting every fortnight to discuss the welfare of Mt Kenya region.
A WhatsApp group was also formed to be a medium of communication between Kuria and the elected leaders whenever they need his assistance or presence at their functions.
The notable leaders from Mt Kenya and the Diaspora who attended the event include governors Ann Waiguru (Kirinyaga) Irungu Kang’ata (Murang’a) Susan Kihika (Nakuru) Cecily Mbarire (Embu) Kiarie Badilisha (Nyandarua) and Kimani Wamatangi (Kiambu).
MPs present included Martha Wangari (Gilgil), Jane Kihara (Naivasha), Alice Ng’ang’a (Thika Town), Patrick Munene (Chuka Igamba Ngombe), Njuguna Kawanjiku (Kiambaa), Geoffrey Wandeto (Tetu), Maina Karobia (Eala), Rahab Mukami (Nyeri), Anne Muratha (Kiambu), Mary Wamaua (Maragua), Peter Kihungi (Kangema), Njoroge Kururia (Gatundu North) and James Gakuya (Embakasi North).
The resolutions passed included unity of purpose in the fight against illicit brews, a ceasefire on leaders sabotaging each other and a joint agitation of better prices for cash crops.
On April 4, Kuria was in Embu county with local leaders for a business exposition and then on Saturday April 8 the CS was with MPs Betty Maina (Murang’a), Moses Kirima (Central Imenti), Simon Kingara (Ruiru), Maina Karobia (Eala), Mburu Kahangara (Lari), Mugambi Rindikiri (Buuri), and Njuguna Kawanjiku (Kiambaa) where they graced a thanksgiving ceremony for area MP George Koimburi.
Other leaders who attended the event were Gitonga Mukunji (Manyatta) Edward Muriu (Gatanga) Onesmus Ngogoyo (Kajiado North) and Gachoki Gitari (Kirinyaga Central)
On Sunday, April 9, Kuria attended two separate thanksgiving ceremonies in Laikipia and Kirinyaga counties for Women Representatives Jane Kagiri and Njeri Maina respectively. Again he was accompanied by a battalion of leaders, elected and non-elected.
Some of the leaders who have been accompanying Kuria said he has mentored many in politics and is more accessible compared to other senior government officials.
MPs Koimburi, Muriu, Mukunji and Wangari said Kuria played a huge role in shaping their political careers and that is why they will support his cause.
“We worked with Kuria in the tenth parliament and he is forthright and committed to the agenda of Mt Kenya people. Leaders will support his cause as he embarks on policies to uplift our people,” said Mbarire.
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While the trend is indicating that Kuria most of the time is accompanied by over 10 leaders at each event, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has been struggling to convince a handful of elected leaders to accompany him at regional meetings.
As Kuria was crisscrossing Laikipia and Kirinyaga counties on Sunday, the Deputy President was attending a church service at his Mathira home with local MPs. Embakasi Central MP Benjamin Gathiru alias Major Donk was the only elected leader from outside Nyeri County, who was available to join the DP.
But while speaking to the leaders at his home last month, Kuria said he and other leaders were President William Ruto and Gachagua’s subordinates and that he could not allow anyone to divide the region.
However, Kuria made some interesting remarks when he disclosed that one of the reasons that settled the Ruto running mate debacle was that they convinced current Interior CS Kithure Kindiki that he was among youthful leaders, who would be left to seek the presidency after 10 years.
Kuria disclosed that when the stalemate on who to deputise Ruto persisted, he (Ruto) called him at 3am and summoned him to his Karen residence the following day at 7am to try and find a solution and that he tagged along Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru, now Attorney General Justin Muturi and former Kiambu governor William Kabogo.
However, Githunguri MP Gathoni Wamuchomba is of the opinion that Kuria is a man on a mission to try and unsettle Gachagua and cautioned leaders who ignorantly follow him that “he would throw them under the bus’’ once he gets the legitimacy he seeks.
“He is packaging himself as a Mt Kenya region spokesperson and is using first-timers to seek legitimacy and that’s why he is not inviting some of us who have been in this game for a while. He is a good brain but a poor leader,” Wamuchomba said.
An MP from Nyeri who requested anonymity said Kuria was enjoying the support of leaders more compared to Gachagua because the former was a mobilizer and accessible compared to the latter.
“We lack the zeal of accompanying the Deputy President because most are the times that he will ask us to stand up and wave while with Kuria, he will let every leader speak to the electorate, you see we gain relevance when our people hear us speak,” he said.
Political analyst Prof Gitile Naituli who described Kuria as a political strategist, calculative but sly, said he was working on a certain political game plan that will give him political relevance and rattle other leaders in the region.
“This is where the government is getting it wrong, even after the elections, there seem to be positioning and angling in the Kenya Kwanza government with political games overtaking service delivery and leading to misplaced priorities,” he said.