Gachagua bonds with Mt Kenya as his critics accuse him of tribalism

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, with his spouse Dorcas, Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza and other leaders at Our Lady of Visitation Timau Catholic, Meru Meru County. [Phares Mutembei, Standard]

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua’s unity clarion call and the push for one-man one-vote one-shilling has begun to resonate with his backyard.

But it is also causing ripples within government circles as Cabinet Secretaries and top politicos dismiss the push as ethnic balkanisation.

By presenting himself as saviour and defender of the Mt Kenya region, Gachagua scored victories in the Nairobi grassroots United Democratic Alliance (UDA) elections where delegates from the only four constituencies that the party won voted for his allies.

The victors also happen to be allies of Gachagua’s preferred candidate for Nairobi UDA chair, Embakasi North MP James Gakuya. The MP is currently salivating for the city’s gubernatorial seat.

The MPs, who include Gakuya, John Kiarie (Dagoretti South) and Benjamin Gathiru (Embakasi Central), successfully garnered seats of chair in their respective constituencies. Former Embakasi West MP George Theuri who had crossed over to Gachagua’s camp also got the chair position.

The win is being seen as a major boost to Gachagua’s strategy to influence Nairobi politics with sources indicating that Gakuya could contest against Sakaja in the 2027 election.

Just like Gachagua, Gakuya has been using the tribal card to win Nairobians, claiming that the Agikuyu community has been left out in employment opportunities while scores have been fired indiscriminately, despite voting Sakaja to a man.

“There was a pre-coalition deal between Sakaja and former Starehe MP Bishop Margaret Wanjiru that saw the later step down to support the latter. The deal was reached after the intervention of Gachagua and I, and part of the agreement was that our community would get key positions in his administration. But upon election, Sakaja turned a blind eye,” Gakuya told The Standard yesterday.

The second in command has also been crisscrossing Mt Kenya region asking members of the Agikuyu community to stick together to forestall political aggression. He has reiterated his call for forgiveness from former President Uhuru Kenyatta.

On Saturday, Gachagua told fans of the Agikuyu golden oldies that when they see him “silent, things are not going on well and” promised that at the best opportune time, he will speak out.

While calling his critics betrayers, home guards and collaborators, Gachagua maintained that he was made deputy president because of the votes of Mt Kenya region. He told the locals not to be intimidated for being members of the Agikuyu community.

“Your votes made me the deputy president and my work is to help the president to lead Kenya. But as I assist him, it is my duty too to keep my eyes open to safeguard the interests of our community. And every time when you see me quiet, just know things are not okay. When I realise things are not going well, I will speak out. The elected leaders should remember that they were given votes to defend their electorate and agitate for their interests,” Gachagua said during a music extravaganza held in Nanyuki.

Prior to attending the extravaganza, Gachagua was in Bungoma alongside President William Ruto celebrating this year’s Mdaraka Day with sources indicating that he did not join the Head of State for the usual dinner that follows such festivities. He instead opted to join his natives in Nanyuki for the extravaganza.

In his Madaraka Day speech, President Ruto criticised the push for one man one vote shilling mantra terming the move ethnic balkanisation.

“The 2022 general election was a defining moment for the political trajectory of our country as it brought to an end politics of ethnicity as Kenyans voted us based on our manifesto and not because of our individualism, or personality,” Dr Ruto said.

In what Gachagua’s allies have interpreted as a coordinated attack against the DP, Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi, Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki, Defense counterpart Aden Duale, Kirinyaga Governor Ann Waiguru and National Assembly Majority leader Kimani Ichungwa picked from where the president   left and criticized Gachagua for “advancing a tribal agenda”.

 “The president made a very fundamental statement because the election we held in 2022 debunked ethnic myths around the voting pattern and voting practices of Kenyans. Who would have ever imagined that such a huge block of people from Mt Kenya region would want to vote for Raila  and the majority would vote for Ruto. This is a pattern you can trace across the entire country where people were not glued to the ethnic agenda as it has been in the past and I think it is something we should build on. It is something we should consolidate so that, going in the future, we should be persuaded on basis of ideology, programmes and policies.,” Mudavadi said in an interview with Citizen TV.

“The President’s remarks aptly capture our journey as a nation. Indeed, we have come a long way, painstakingly freeing our people from the shackles of tribal bigotry and ethnicity. We have delivered a united Kenya governed by democracy, the rule of law, and constitutionalism. Our goal is to create equal opportunities and prosperity for all, regardless of background, tribe, religion, or any other affiliation. This vision was central to the 2022 elections, where the people voted for issue-based politics with economic empowerment at its core.Tribalism and corruption is a threat to national security , creates political instability, economic underdevelopment, and poverty,” Duale said.

Kindiki said mobilisation and incitement of ethnic communities against each other is “a barbaric, cruel and dangerous political misadventure that poses grave danger to our country’s future”.

 “Kenya’s ugly past experience with ethnically brewed violence should jolt all of us. Whatever tongue we speak and whichever part of the country we come from, we need to resist and to name and shame the propagators of ethnic hate and the “us” versus “them” narrative that nearly destroyed Kenya in December and January of 2007 and 2008,” Kindiki tweeted and repeated the message yesterday in Bungoma. 

“The 2022 general election was a referendum on tribal and personality cult politics. We shall not be derailed into engaging in this backward, archaic, and retrogressive politics. If it is not about agenda and development, we shall not engage in it,” Ichung’wa said

“In 2007, we were in the same situation as we are now, and I cannot allow our people to be misled,” Waiguru tweeted.