As political temperatures continue to rise in the country, Kajiado County has been transformed into the theatre where fresh political formations are birthed.
Owing to its proximity to Nairobi, this satellite town is also the bedroom for the city’s workforce and a retreat for its elite and a favourite haunt of the glitterati.
Kajiado has also been a swing state in past elections, with residents throwing their weight behind President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto in the 2013 and 2017 polls.
Some of its eminent sons include the late George Saitoti and Joseph Nkaissery.
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Its most illustrious tenant currently is labour boss Francis Atwoli, who has transformed his home into a political Mecca where the high and mighty make pilgrimages as they chart the country’s destiny in 2022 and beyond.
The Ildamat home of the Central Organisation of Trade Unions secretary-general has become synonymous with political leaders who support the Building Bridges Initiative, the by-product of a 2018 unity agreement between Uhuru and ODM leader Raila Odinga.
On August 16, Atwoli hosted Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, who is also the Kanu chairman, Siaya Senator James Orengo and Jubilee Vice Chair David Murathe.
At another lunch meeting, former presidential candidate Peter Kenneth, Suna East MP Junet Mohamed, Igembe North MP Maore Maoka, Kajiado East MP Peris Tobiko, and her Kajiado Central counterpart Memusi Kanchori broke bread with each other.
People privy to the discussions say the focus is on the 2022 General Election and the creation of a summit with three principals – Uhuru, Raila and Gideon – who are expected to flesh out a succession plan agreeable with their bases.
Anarchy in the country
“You know where I am. I hold no position in government. I am an elder and I cannot sit back and watch as this country goes back to where it was. We need to have a president who will not turn this country to anarchy, and that is Right Honourable Raila Odinga. That is why I have volunteered my house to be a meeting venue,” said Atwoli when quizzed about the high-profile gatherings.
Ruto has been keenly monitoring the activities from afar and recently weighed in on the succession talk, saying there was a plot by the ‘Deep State’ to curtail his presidential ambition.
He claimed the group was similar to one that tried to thwart his joint ticket with Uhuru in 2013 when the pair had ongoing cases at the International Criminal Court at The Hague.
The DP also appears to have decided to fight fire with fire, and has made forays into the county as well as hosted five delegations at his Karen home.
Former Kajiado Senator Peter ole Mositet said no serious politician could ignore the county’s large voting bloc.
“It is payback time for the deputy president. He expects to get what he invested in the 2017 General Election when a majority of the current leaders were sponsored by him,” said Mositet.
Sources say Ruto may have chosen Kajiado South MP Katoo ole Metito as his point man, joining Kajiado West MP George Sunkuyia and Nominated Senator Mary Seneta in the DP’s bandwagon.
The argument is that Metito, who is the longest-serving MP in Maasailand and is said to be eyeing the Senate seat, will easily traverse the county and hunt for votes for Ruto.
The MP has made it clear he has no apologies for supporting the deputy president.
“It does not mean I don’t have respect for the president. Uhuru has not given us an alternative candidate for 2022, and if he does I have the right to make a choice and my choice is Ruto.”
The second delegation to Karen was led by Senator Philip Mpaayei while the third was led by Seneta, who is eyeing the Kajiado East seat.
Mpaayei said he had a long history with Ruto and could not afford to abandon him during his time of need. “If I’m not able to reach the president, I have access to his deputy.”
Seneta said she was pleased with how politics was shaping up in the country but declined to comment on the Karen visit.
The leaders’ visits to Ruto’s home, however, attracted the wrath of Kanchori who branded them, opportunists.
“We don’t know what goodies they are going for in Karen. It is a shame that leaders who want to lead this county would scramble for handouts,” he said.
The president still holds considerable sway in the region, with Governor Joseph ole Lenku appointed the BBI point man in Kajiado, Nakuru and Samburu last year.
“I am committed to Uhuru’s legacy-building efforts in the last two years of his reign,” he said during a recent meeting attended by Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i.