President Uhuru Kenyatta.
A meeting held between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Jubilee MPs at State House has left little doubt that he will be at the centre of succession politics.
The meeting, held at State House on Friday with the remnants of Jubilee MPs has left political players differing on how the president’s involvement will shape Mt Kenya politics. Unlike his predecessor Mwai Kibaki who kept off succession politics, at least publicly, President Kenyatta may influence Mt Kenya politics.
His rivals, however, have promised him a tough duel and want him to be ready for the consequences. Other than interfering with Deputy President William Ruto’s political arithmetic, Uhuru’s involvement in succession politics might also clip wings of some of his possible successors who took advantage of his silence to register political parties.
The leaders who include Muranga Governor Mwangi Wa Iria (Usawa Kwa Wote), Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi (Devolution Empowerment Party), Moses Kuria (Chama Cha Kazi) may be thrown off balance by Uhuru’s assertion that he will guide the region on its political direction.
Others from the region who have been angling themselves for the spokesperson position include Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua who has since been named Mt Kenya political party’s spokesperson and National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi who was coronated by the elders and given the title of spokesperson.
The fringe parties and the leaders were arguably trying to fill the void but after Uhuru’s meeting with the Jubilee leaders, they are likely to be displaced. Uhuru’s foot soldiers are likely to be the greatest beneficiaries of the president’s move.
However, Kiunjuri expected President Kenyatta to retire honourably like Kibaki and hopes his (Uhuru’s) advisors are preparing him for the consequences.
“Uhuru knows the consequences of getting into politics of succession as he retires. If he wants to get dirty, he is welcome. It is his right and nobody should force him into political retirement,” Kiunjuri added.
He said campaigns can be chaotic and the person of the stature of the President will be ‘injured’ saying this could be part of the reasons that made former president Kibaki retire quietly as a statesman. He, however, said his party (The Service Party) should not be taken for granted.
Those who stand to gain after Jubilee’s party rebranding include MPs Kanini Kega (Kieni) Ngunjiri Wambugu (Nyeri Town) Sabina Chege (Muranga) and Maina Kamanda (Nominated) among others. Buoyed by the fact that the President has given assurance that he will play at the centre of succession politics, Wambugu is confident that the party that Ruto’s camp described as a shell will now scoop the much needed elective positions in bid to be the majority party in Council of Governors, National Assembly and in about 33 county Assemblies.
“From the meeting, we shall now move to establish regional and special interest caucuses and teams that will meet with the party leader separately to discuss the roll-out strategy in Mt Kenya and the country at large,” he said, describing Uhuru as a lion which roars at the opportune moment.
Mt Kenya Jubilee caucus chair Charles Mwangi Nganga said the President’s announcement was long overdue and that it cast doubts whether he would stay at the periphery, a move that would have brought confusion to the electorate.
“He is the defacto king and to the Hustler Nation I see a bleak future unless they join the bandwagon,” said Nganga, Ichagaki Ward MCA who is vying for Maragua parliamentary seat.
“For those of us vying on the Azimio la Umoja platform it’s a plus and we shall win in a landslide,” he added.
The delay by the party to re-launch had seen Sabina Chege threaten to decamp saying time was not on their side as they could not print t-shirts and campaign materials since the party’s status was in the balance. After the President’s meeting, she reiterated that was in Jubilee to stay.
“We had lost many of our members for failing to have a clear direction but after the meeting, many will come back and move as a team,” she said.
Gatanga MP Nduati Ngugi who is Muranga County’s Jubilee part whip said Ruto would be the biggest loser with Uhuru’s involvement in succession politics.
“We are happy now because Uhuru will have time with churches, opinion leaders and at the grassroots level and will spill the beans on why they fell out with Ruto and by the time he is through Tanga Tanga members will be trooping back to the ruling party,” Ngugi said.
Pro-Uhuru leaders likened the president’s silence on the Mt Kenya region with a man who fails to return home and while away, another man takes charge.
But upon his return, the children wonder who the man is, but after familiarisation, the children join hands with their father to chase away the ‘fake’ father.
To pro-Ruto supporters, Uhuru was late. Mt Kenya region divorced him for Ruto and he will only embarrass himself during the succession and transition period and thereafter go home a frustrated man. Nderitu Gachagua who has been touted as Ruto’s possible running mate said Uhuru represent the past while a new crop of leaders who represent the future has emerged. He says he now knows the reasons he refused to mentor his successor.
“New leaders have emerged after the President failed to mentor his possible successors, he wanted to remain the leader of the community by force. But he should know that the community has moved on and it will be proved when he comes to the ground,” said Gachagua.
Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichunga said, “Uhuru has every right to participate in political activity but he must not dictate his political choices on the people. His choice is his and not the peoples’ he must allow people to decide.”
They argue that the country is already overburdened by huge taxes and the poor state of the economy and that Uhuru will do more harm than good to Raila’s fortunes in August polls.
Kirinyaga Governor Ann Waiguru a Ruto ally cautioned the president not to meddle in succession saying the scientific study has shown that it always ends badly. She said Uhuru’s candidate is likely to face rejection since people have decided that they want the space to choose their leaders.
“The Mt Kenya the President left in 2017 has since shifted to UDA and he will only be speaking to Jubilee remnants,” the governor said.
As for the fate of leaders fashioning themselves to succeed the President, Waiguru described them as opportunistic leaders who only hoped to benefit from nomination fallouts in the ‘dominant UDA party. She opined that just as was the case in 2017 when GNU, Narc Kenya did not win elective seats, the small parties would suffer the same fate.
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