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Kenya Kwanza split as MPs defend Gachagua

Monday, May 20th, 2024 04:06 | By
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua speaks at Endarasha shopping centre in Kieni, Nyeri county, on May 19, 2024. PHOTO/DPCS
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua speaks at Endarasha shopping centre in Kieni, Nyeri county, on May 19, 2024. PHOTO/DPCS

Divisions in the Kenya Kwanza leadership came to the fore yesterday, with some MPs allied to Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua claiming a plot had been hatched to fight him politically.

The charged lawmakers said they knew who was behind the scheme and vowed to fight back to the bitter end.

They also faulted the controversial Finance Bill 2024, which they said was anti-’hustlers’, and vowed to push for amendments to some of the proposals in it.

Speaking at a church service in Kieni yesterday, Gachagua warned against early political campaigns. He also dismissed people discussing his political future and pleaded with Mountt Kenya leaders to work on strengthening and ring-fencing their unity.

Elected leaders, he advised, should be given a chance to work for the public without interference or distraction by political aspirants.

“Those elected should be allowed to do their work and execute their respective mandates. People should concentrate on their work,” he said.

“Stop discussing other people’s work and allow those in office to work. Those occupying seats should be allowed to work without interference.”

Calling for an end to premature and early campaigns, he said: “The public will have an opportunity to review their work and decide whether to renew their contract or terminate. For now, let us bring down political temperatures and allow those in office to work.”

The DP was with more than 20 MPs and a host of other political leaders, who also criticised early and divisive political campaigns.

“There is no room for divisions. We will ensure President Ruto and his deputy succeed in the transformation agenda and fulfilment of pre-election pledges. We also have expectations as a community on reforms in the coffee, tea, dairy farming, avocado and macadamia sectors,” said Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga.

Calls for unity

In his remarks, the DP stressed the need for unity among leaders: “Let us avoid divisions and bringing other leaders down. Avoid envy ... Let us not fight. Instead love and support each other. I will continue advocating for unity of our community behind President William Ruto. Let us pray for his success,” Gachagua said.

“Do not stab your brother in the back. We will rally behind our President to steer the ship to prosperity as a region.”

Gachagua warned that the region will lose greatly if its leaders allow divisions among themselves at the expense of the interests of the people.

“I will not discuss politics today. Rigathi Gachagua, the deputy president of the Republic of Kenya is a man of few words. I talk less but my actions speak volumes,” said the DP.

But State House yesterday downplayed claims of strained relations between the DP and President William Ruto.

“About, the deputy president and the president, to my knowledge there is no issue,” State House Spokesman Hussein Mohammed said in response to a question from a journalist yesterday when he was updating Kenyans about the president’s state visit to the United States.

“And of course, the Deputy President’s Office is an office with all the capabilities and competences. If you want to ask any questions or find out anything about the deputy president, they have all the capabilities and you can find whatever information you need there.”

Defending Gachagua, Kahiga said Mount Kenya leaders will not sit and watch the DP being humiliated the way Ruto was when he was in the same position.

“We will not allow this to happen, kama mbaya mbaya. It will not be business as usual. You will not humiliate our son under our watch,” warned Kahiga.

The politicians alleged that a team of young leaders in Kenya Kwanza were pushing for a so-called generational change and seeking to push out elderly leaders were creating a wedge between  Ruto and his deputy.

Embakasi East MP James Gakinya threw the first salvo, saying the alleged anti-Gachagua scheme was already in motion and was spearheaded by blogger Dennis Itumbi and Laikipia East MP Mwangi Kiunjuri.

“We know who has sent these people and will soon expose them. We are not cowards and our silence should not be taken as a weakness,” charged Gakinya.

Kiunjuri, who was the chief guest at a funds drive in Kakamega, attacked Gachagua, accusing him of causing confusion in the Mt Kenya region due to his weak leadership style.

Kiunjuri challenged the DP to shape up or ship out of government. “You are in government, elected on a Kenya Kwanza ticket, na uko na nia nyingine…ngojea, kwa sababu hatuwezi kuwa na ndume wawili kwa zizi moja. Lazima tuheshimu rais aliyekalia kiti (and you have other intentions ... you must respect the sitting president because there can only be one leader at a time),” Kinjuri said without elaborating.

He went: “You cannot have one foot in government and another out there. You cannot start campaigns for 2032 before we get to 2027.”

Kiunjuri’s remarks echoed speeches from a dozen MPs and senators at the funds drive in aid of women’s groups in Malava, Kakamega county.

Limuru III downplayed

But speaking while in the company of the DP, Nyeri Senator Wahome Wamatinga said it was unfortunate that some people in the government were creating a wedge between the president and his deputy.

The outspoken senator said it was the DP who gave Nyeri people assurances that their interests would be taken care of, adding that were it not for him the region would have taken a different route.

Speakers downplayed the recent Limuru III conference, terming it a non-starter that had achieved nothing but maligning the name of the DP.

Gachagua made his first public appearance amid rumours of a split within the ruling Kenya Kwanza coalition. He spoke at a church service at Endarasha Catholic Church in Kieni constituency, Nyeri county. His conspicuous absence from key state functions had fuelled speculation that he had fallen out with Ruto.

Manyatta MP Gitonga Mukunji said the 2024 Finance Bill contains proposals that will have serious ramifications on ordinary Kenyans and should not be passed.

He said he will oppose any attempt to remove money for feeding programmes in primary schools and that the Treasury was crafting proposals that are against the interests of poor Kenyans.

“The proposal to introduce car tax will adversely affect those in the transport sector and we will not support it,” Mukunji said.

His views were supported by MPs Geofrey Ruku (Mbeere North) and Mwangi Wandeto (Tetu), who both said they will not vote for the bill blindly and that they will only do what is right for the people.

“We will do what is right and will not support what will affect the people who voted for us. We are wiser this time round,” Wandeto said.

Nandi Senator Samson Cheralgei also joined the bandwagon, urging the National Assembly to make the necessary amendments to the Finance Bill.

Itumbi’s name also came up, with MPs accusing him of using his proximity to the President to fight elected leaders.

“There is this one person who has (used) his laptop and phone tools to malign elected leaders. He did so during the Jubilee Party days, creating a wedge between former President Uhuru Kenyatta and President Ruto. We are watching you,” said former MP Cate Waruguru.

A group of young MPs revolving around their Kiharu counterpart Ndindi Nyoro has been travelling across the country pushing the “generation change” idea, which aims to propel him as the Mount Kenya kingpin and the heir to the presidency in 2032.

The speculation became even more intense when Transport CS Kipchumba Murkomen and Opposition leader Raila Odinga saw off Uganda President Yoweri Museveni after his three day state visit to Kenya last week.

Ruto was in Rwanda when Museveni left Kenya. It had been expected that at least DP Gachagua would see Museveni off. The DP was also missing during Tree Planting Day as Ruto and other government officials spearheaded the campaign in various parts of the country.

Gachagua, who is known to be active at state events and especially being around Ruto, has kept away from these activities recently, with even his social media accounts going quiet.

Lately, Gachagua has become a vocal proponent of the “one man, one vote, one shilling” campaign led by some Mount Kenya leaders, a position that drew flak from Public Service Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria, who claimed the DP was trying to divide the country.

Kuria, who had supported the idea for a while, seemingly read malice in the declaration, arguing that the Mountt Kenya region was well represented in the government’s top echelons.

He has claimed that more than nine leaders had been appointed to the Cabinet and senior leadership positions in Parliament and were better placed to spearhead the concept.

“This is why I will not lie to the people of the Mount Kenya region about one man, one vote, one shilling,” he said.

“Our region has produced the sitting deputy president, nine Cabinet members, (including the AG (attorney general), National Treasury, and secretary to the Cabinet), majority leader, chair Budget and chair Finance in the National Assembly, deputy Speaker, and deputy majority leader in the Senate.

“What other powers would we be looking for? We are a government and we can implement One Man, One Vote, One Shilling by Friday if we are serious. Let us be honest with our people.”

And two days beore the Limuru III conference, Kuria, without explicitly mentioning Gachagua’s name, had also hit out at the DP as both men tussle for the Mount Kenya kingpin status ahead of the 2027 election.

“I am aware that a very senior and powerful personality with prior experience in provincial administration is financing Limuru III, and he has given instructions to Kioni that if I attend, he will not finance,” Kuria said.

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