To his backers, he's the ideal man to succeed Uhuru in Central Kenya. But for some, despite his courage and loyalty, he's better off in his Meru backyard.
The perception that Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya (pictured) is being considered for Mt Kenya kingpin in the post-Uhuru Kenyatta era has raised questions not least in his Meru backyard.
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Leaders supporting Munya such as East African Legislative Assembly MP Mpuru Aburi said he was best placed to play that role because of his loyal support to President Kenyatta, his age advantage and courage to confront 'real game-changer issues'.
“My bet is that Munya will easily reclaim the Meru governor's seat and some other senior Meru leaders of today are likely to end up in the losing national ticket of William Ruto,” said Aburi, who is back to Munya’s camp after a fallout for most of the term he served as Tigania East MP between 2013-2017.
South Imenti MP Kathuri Murungi said it would be a big political statement if Munya was to win the support of Central Kenya to be the kingpin, but cautioned the region on celebrating early, saying his feeling was that such a position should be held by someone able to bring leaders and the community together especially in their backyard.
“We (Ameru) have supported Central Kenya for many years since former President's Kibaki's stub for presidency in 1992. It is very welcome if our brothers in Central Kenya have decided to front the CS for Agriculture if what was pronounced by (David) Murathe is anything to go by,” said Kathuri.
Kathuri said he wanted to see both Munya and Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi do more to unite the locals, noting it was regrettable that the CS had failed to consult and involve local leaders in the reforms he is currently rolling out in the coffee and tea sub-sectors.
"I think we have a big problem in Meru. We expect our seniors to show us the way. For the two terms I've served as MP, I'm yet to experience this. This will come to pass at some point,” added Kathuri. “If you are a senior politician the onus is on you to bring together the community through their leaders.”
But Njuri Ncheke Secretary General Josephat Murangiri, while speaking at a function attended by the Meru governor in South Imenti, appeared to attack those popularising the Munya bid.
"Kiraitu is recognised as a leading Meru politician. Others are just political tourists," said Murangiri.
North Imenti MP Rahim Dawood also spoke glowingly of Kiraitu, saying he was even part of the second liberation in 1992 and knew the ins and outs of politics.
"Anybody thinking that they can easily override Kiraitu in his backyard is certainly day dreaming," he said.
But Dawood later clarified that his sentiments had not mentioned Munya and had no connection with his being mentioned in relation to Mt Kenya kingpin.
Kiraitu’s steadfast allies, however, appeared to be inflamed by the linking of Munya to Mt Kenya kingpin politics.
Alhaji Mwendia, the Jubilee Secretary in Meru, said Kiraitu should stay focused on national level politics and leave small fights to others.
Mwendia pronouncements usually represent the thinking in Kiraitu's camp. On Wednesday, the party official said there are small but few big game in a forest, adding that as the king of the pride in the Meru forest, Kiraitu should not be distracted from the buffalo, elephants and others by the dik diks, gazelles and wild dogs.
"Those from the least developed part of Meru are the ones trying to distract him. Don’t give us stress just because you were given a role of MC as MP for two years that you imagine you can compete with Kiraitu," he said.
Outside Meru and especially in Central Kenya, there is no much fancy about Munya’s chances and at least two leaders spoke in confidence about deliberate misinterpretation of Murathe’s message at Munya’s initiation ceremony offering to share the Jubilee vice chairman’s speech at the function.
“Murathe only spoke of Munya being the point-man in Meru not the kingpin, listen keenly to the clip and make your own conclusions," said one senior Mt Kenya leader.
Nevertheless, he added that it would not be appropriate to overkill Munya’s ambitions and credited the former Meru governor for being a courageous leader, but he had no solid constituency.
“I mean, he could not even get what he calls his bedrock of support in Igembe to vote in 2017 and he had to lie back on just two constituencies in Tigania,” added the senior leader.
In Murang’a where there is an almost unanimous feeling that they should be next after the leadership torch was passed between Kiambu and Nyeri, local leaders said they were focused on supporting former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth to succeed Uhuru.
Mathioya MP Peter Kimari said there was need for teams from all the counties in Mt Kenya region to negotiate on who to take the leadership mantle.
Kimari said the forum will help to steer the region in unity ahead of 2022 elections.
“Murang’a will back Kenneth as its leader for the post, while Meru may back Munya or Senator Kithure Kindiki or even Kiraitu. Kiambu may propose their own such as William Kabogo. There is need for a forum that will allow negotiation,” said Kimari.
Gatanga MP Joseph Nduati said Munya would lack support from many counties.
“The entire region is likely to back Kenneth owing to his political and development experience,” said Nduati.