How Ruto is isolating Gachagua, setting Mt Kenya politics in a spin

President William Ruto and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua at State House, Nairobi, on June 13, 2023. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

If recent engagements are anything to go by, it is clear that President William Ruto and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua may not be reading from the same script any more.

The two have not shared a podium since May 3, which is unusual because they have always been spotted together at key events after they came into office in 2022.

Lately, the second in command has retreated to his Mt Kenya backyard and has revived the push for the controversial one-man one-vote one-shilling revenue-sharing formula. Recently he claimed that he was aware of a scheme by some people to divide Mt Kenya region.

“Are you looking up to any other leader from this region apart from me? When the right time comes, I will disclose to you something but for now let those people be told that when a person thinks that he can plot something against some people, he should be told that mucemi akorire mukungi (a Kikuyu proverb that is a message to a person who tries to be cunning in the face of a more cunning partner) and we are able to interpret letters while in the envelope. We are wise and the people of Mt Kenya are wise and discerning,” Gachagua made the remarks in Kagumo last week.

The Standard has learnt that the DP’s team is unhappy with a faction of MPs from Mt Kenya allied to the President, “who hop from one church to another using choppers and dishing money in millions, part of it said to be President Ruto’s donation.”

One of the incidents that has caused acrimony between the president’s loyalists and Gachagua was in Mathioya where Murang’a leaders, led by Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro arrived early at an event organised by the DP and donated Sh1 million, announcing that it had come from Ruto, and left.

The leaders accompanying Nyoro, including area MP Edwin Mugo, fronted the Kiharu MP as their leader who is also the link between them and President Ruto. They asked locals to continue praying for Nyoro.

In yet another incident, Laikipia East MP Mwangi Kiunjuri, who has styled himself as an anti-Gachagua crusader to the extent of asking him to resign if he is dissatisfied with President Ruto’s administration, has dished out money in his constituency saying it is the President’s donation.

“If you are dissatisfied with his administration you may as well go and establish your own government on the sidelines or you wait for three years to campaign and form your own government with the people you will convince. Those of us who want to continue with the president, will re-elect him and soldier on with his government,” Kiunjuri said after donating Sh1 million in his constituency.

Gachagua’s allies wonder why MPs who have been representing the president have been using the same platform to criticize his (DP’s) leadership.

“Nyoro is a tortoise placed on top of a table. He uses choppers that belong to the president and this means he does not fuel them. Even if you want to replace Gachagua with Nyoro, why can’t you wait for the right time,” Embakasi North MP James Gakuya, who has been vocal in support of Gachagua, told The Standard.

Gakuya, who is vying for Nairobi UDA chairmanship “so that Mt Kenya region can own the ruling UDA party” believes the president should come out and warn the youthful leaders “who are disrespecting Gachagua, to show that they don’t have his blessings.”

A section of leaders allied to the DP have also been approached by the president’s team and have shifted allegiance, a move that has angered Gachagua’s team.

On May 10, during the Tree Planting Day in Maragua, Murang’a, presided over by Ruto, the Kiharu MP claimed that he would personally look for money to ensure that the pleas by area MP Mary Waithira alias Wamaua are addressed. This was interpreted as efforts by Nyoro to woo the MP who has been Gachagua’s major mobiliser and has been accompanying him to all his political meetings.

“Mr President, you have given me permission and you have directed that I do not wait for the next budget to factor in funds for the tarmacking of Mbombo-Gwathamaki road. I will factor it into the supplementary budget. I will also look for Sh10 million to upgrade the infrastructure of Igikiro Secondary school, and on top of it, I will factor both Kamahuha and Saba Saba markets in the budget because Wamaua is like my elder sister,” Nyoro, who has been seen as the face of the team wedging a cold war against Gachagua, said.

During Gachagua’s church fundraiser in Kieni, Nyeri county, on Sunday, Wamaua was conspicuously absent.

When President Ruto flew to Rwanda on Friday, he was accompanied by six elected leaders from Mt Kenya region. Interestingly, all have been touted to be Gachagua’s lieutenants. It is worth noting that all, except one, were conspicuously missing at the DP’s event in Kieni.

The MPs include Peter Kihungi (Kangema) Muchangi Karemba (Runyenjes) George Murugara (Tharaka) Wainaina Wambugu (Othaya) and Kirinyaga Senator Kamau Murango. Only Wambugu was in Kieni.

“There is a scheme to divide Mt Kenya region and the gear is on a very high note. I have been in this game and I know how people are divided. I want to tell my fellow leaders that if you find that you are being called alone, just know you are going to be radicalised,” said Naivasha MP Jayne Kihara.