Uhuru, allies regroup and set for political duel

Jubilee Secretary General Jeremiah Kioni, Former President Uhuru Kenyatta and David Murathe gestures during Jubilee Party National Delegates Convention at Ngong Racecourse on May 22, 2023. [John Muchucha, Standard]

Former President Uhuru Kenyatta has roared back to politics. 

Uhuru’s lieutenants who served in the 12th parliament yesterday met with over 500 grassroots leaders at the Kiambu High School before announcing that they will be crisscrossing Mt Kenya region to show “empathy” for Kenyans due to the high cost of living. 

With the choice of Kiambu County, the Kenyattas home, as the host of the first meeting, there could be a plan to form something akin to the Kieleweke movement that was initiated by those who supported his administration and were against his deputy William Ruto, whose allies in the region were referred to as Tanga Tanga movement. 

It is understood that Uhuru’s new political game will involve the former Jubilee Party leaders in specific counties who lost their seats to Ruto’s UDA and who will take advantage of the harsh economic times to sway the public against the government. 

In Kiambu, the leaders who were involved in the meeting included former MPs Jude Jomo (Kiambu town), Peter Mwathi (Limuru), Mumbi Ngaru (EALA) and a host of former MCAs, among them former Majority Leader Simon Karema. 

The leaders insisted that they still recognise Uhuru as Mt Kenya’s kingpin even as they pledged to start civic education to the electorate on the negative impact of various government policies.

“We shall also stand firm against the government’s move to divert funds meant for our region and that had been earmarked by Uhuru’s administration to other regions. If the push comes to shove we shall urge our people to stop paying taxes until our region gets its rightful share of development,” Mwathi said. 

Stalled projects

He cited the 54-Mau Mau Road, Ruiru 11 and Karemenu Dam as some of the projects that had been halted, saying they will be demanding that the projects are revived.  

He said they had agreed to oppose the Housing Levy, among other taxes that have been introduced by the Kenya Kwanza administration, claiming the policies targeted Mt Kenya region. 

Jomo, while putting those who hurl insults to the former President on notice, said any political leader who dares them will be attracting a political duel. 

“Uhuru is our leader, he cuts a national image and is a pride of our nation and we will protect and defend him from any acts of political aggression,” he said, noting that they were following his guidance.

Jubilee Party Organising Secretary Pauline Njoroge hit out at the Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua over failure to defend the interests of the region, which she claimed were being ignored by the government.

“While funds for our development projects continue to be diverted to other regions the DP is holding onto a shareholding narrative. MPs and Cabinet Secretaries who try to express their concerns are silenced through a phone call while others are transferred from their ministries. We will say no to this,” she said.

Last week, Uhuru challenged the Mt Kenya leadership to defend their people against the “oppressive regime”, saying that despite the opposition he got after supporting Raila for the presidency, he has not regretted his decision.

“Always stand for the truth. I stood with my truth and opted for Raila because I knew him. People’s representatives should provide leadership instead of being dictated by the wave,” Uhuru said at Raila’s Karen home last Monday.

Party factions

The retired Head of State said he had been receiving calls from his friends complaining how their businesses have closed down, noting that most of them belong to people from the Mt Kenya region. 

“Even when you are intimidated, stand by the truth if you don’t oppose bad leadership you will still suffer by its policies,” he told leaders.

Jubilee Secretary General Jeremiah Kioni has held meetings with party members in Murang’a, Nyeri and Kiambu, among other counties, pushing for the replacement of county officials aligned to the Kanini Kega and Sabina Chege faction.

Kioni has also been using the platform to hit out at the Kenya Kwanza administration, claiming it has never addressed the plight of the suffering Kenyans.

He has claimed that the current party activities are being implemented with the blessings of the former President, who is the party leader, even though he’s not hitting the ground.

But pundits have pondered on Uhuru’s game plan especially after Raila endorsed the National Dialogue Committee report, which he has opposed over claims that it has not addressed the high cost of living and the one-man-one-vote-one-shilling push.

According to Charles Njoroge, a political commentator, the retired President could want to take advantage of the prevailing situation to push for his political interests and raise his bargaining power.

“The Ruto-Raila political rapprochement could be a major shock to Mt Kenya region and to Uhuru Kenyatta as an individual to some extent the government may not attack the Kenyattas due to the Raila factor and once he is alone, you may start hearing about the state capture commission of inquiry. To save the situation that could be the reason why Uhuru is slowly charting his own political journey,” he argues.

Electioneering mood

He notes that Uhuru could not be sponsoring such political activities without an end game given that he did his two terms and could not seek for any political position.

“Although the end game will be a major boost for Mt Kenya region he must also be doing it for his political expediency.”

However, according to another commentator Pius Wambui, Uhuru was keen on destabilising the government to delegitimize it to the people in what he describes as “revenge”.

“He wants to start an anti-government wave akin to what was started by Dr Ruto in 2018 and to incite Kenyans against the government. He is determined to ensure that the government serves one term. I foresee an electioneering mood up to 2027,” he argues.