Gachagua can threaten Ruto's re-election if he teams up with Natembeya

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua with Trans Nzoia Governor George Natembeya. [File, Standard]

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua’s goose might be cooked, but therein lies the silver lining. Nothing ranged against him is novel. History documents the indignity those who have held the second highest office in the land have endured.

Three of them, Daniel arap Moi, Mwai Kibaki and William Ruto later rose to the apex of the country’s leadership. Moi was sensitive to the needs of his people and often acceded to them. He never hesitated to rescind a decision that became unpopular. 

Kibaki was aloof, and intently focused on his work, but the people appreciated him for it because the results were felt. Not so Dr Ruto who has moved from hero to villain in under two years. He is deaf to the cries of hustlers as he shakes the last cent out of their shallow pockets, and does so with relish.

It is no no-brainer that Ruto and Gachagua are drifting apart. For the intuitive, that is hardly surprising considering that the two are strange bedfellows brought together by their individual grudges against the handshake brothers. Not much attention was given to the post ‘mission-accomplished’ period.

Expectedly, Ruto will defend his seat in 2027. This time, with a female running mate if an UDA proposal on the composition of the presidency is actualised. Added to this, the formation of the Haki Coalition in Central Kenya with Uhuru Kenyatta as its leader should have Gachagua sitting up.

To survive, he must outsmart his detractors by doing the unexpected, and force a rethink. The chance to do so is beckoning, not from Central, but from Trans Nzoia County in western Kenya. Hitherto complacent, Mt Kenya region is astir, and so is western, which is being rocked by the thunderbolt christened Tawe Movement, fronted by Trans Nzoia Governor George Natembeya. 

It is a potent rebellion against old guard Moses Wetangula and Musalia Mudavadi who appear comfortable playing second fiddle to Ruto until 2032. It is this type of patience the Luhya rank and file don’t have, and which gives succour to the Tawe Movement. 

Natembeya is very popular in Trans Nzoia and the four western Kenya counties. Even as a political greenhorn, he trounced his Ford-Kenya rival Chris Wamalwa by garnering 158, 919 against Wamalwa’s 79,020. 

Were Gachagua and Natembeya, both former administrators, to craft an alliance, forgo defending their current offices in 2027 and gun for the presidency, they could complicate things for Ruto whose bid for a second term will largely depend on marshaling Central and Western Kenya votes. 

At worst, Gachagua can get half of the slightly more than 4.4 million registered voters in Central while Natembeya, with help from Eugene Wamalwa, can easily get more than half of the more than 2.6 million registered voters in Western and Trans Nzoia. 

By working on growing discontent among hustlers staring at a bleak, penniless future under Kenya Kwanza’s insatiable greed for taxes, they can raise a sizeable number of votes from other regions to give them the edge.

This may seem improbable to some, but the life and times of Lech Walesa, including the 1930 Salt March organised by Mahatma Gandhi in India to protest the salt tax, among others, show that movements that helped transform much of the world started ludicrously small. 

Walesa was polish firebrand and trade unionist who later became the first democratically elected president of Poland. Gandhi led India’s successful non-violent struggle for independence. Like the Israelites, the Luhya, the second largest tribe in Kenya, has been in the political wilderness because their top leaders lack the faith necessary to lead them out. 

As long as these leaders continue to worship the golden calf, the Luhya need Joshua to deliver them, and they have him in Natembeya. The anticipated Bukhungu III is likely to come a cropper because those for whom it is organised would rather be UDA’s symbol - the wheelbarrow- static, waiting to be pushed around.