How Uhuru is keeping Mt Kenya kingpin hopefuls guessing

President Uhuru Kenyatta makes his Eleventh (11th) address to the Nation on the Coronavirus pandemic containment measures from State House, Nairobi on August 26, 2020. [PSCU, Standard]

Several developments in the last few weeks have indicated the confusion surrounding the search for a post-Uhuru Kenyatta kingpin in Mt Kenya region.

These include what is described by one political commentator as well thought strategy by Narc-Kenya leader Martha Karua to seize a moment of political crossroads.
Then there was also the linking of Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya to a claim for the kingpin during a meeting at his home attended by his Garden Estate neighbour and Jubilee Vice-chairman David Murathe.
One other recent major political developments was the suspension of the Cabinet meetings which is seen by many as the precursor to a reshuffle that might shape the remaining Uhuru presidency.

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Former commissioner at the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) Gitile Naituli describes Karua’s early criticism of the night arrests and detention of three senators in Nairobi as a political genius by the former Constitutional Affairs minister.
“She is surely one of the strongest leaders who could emerge from the region but my view is that her politics are too progressive that they frighten a lot of people,” says Prof Naituli who teaches Leadership and Management at the Multi-Media University.
Other leaders seen as possible successors in Mt Kenya include Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru and former governors William Kabogo (Kiambu), Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi, Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki and former CS Mwangi Kiunjuri. Also mentioned lately is Health CS Mutahi Kagwe.

Ms Waiguru’s claim to this pedestal is currently at the weakest with the isolation she faced after her troubles with EACC, which raided her homes last week. On the other hand, Kenneth is the only leader with public backing from elected leaders in his backyard with at least four Murang’a MPs and Senator Irungu Kang’ata having expressed their support to his bid.

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Political commentator James Mithika says the aspiring kingpins will continue to be flat-footed with president’s caveat against undue politicking and the fact that it was still politically and constitutionally open for Uhuru to be Prime Minister after the expected BBI reforms.
But Prof Naituli does not think much about the touted possible Uhuru successors in the vote-rich region. He says they all lacked individual charisma and oomph citing Kiraitu and Munya as overrated only because of their relevance in the Meru fault lines.
He added that Kiunjuri was too rowdy to be a leader, Kindiki too laid back that he failed to capitalise on five years as Senate Majority Leader and Kagwe and Waiguru as facing serious setbacks from the rot in their respective offices.
Kenneth, he notes, was unable to offer inspiration and create a following since his run in 2013.
Kabogo who was unsuccessfully craving to set the tone in the BBI rallies before they were suspended over Covid-19 has lately taken a low profile only adopting the ‘twitter warrior’ profile by attacking critics and rivals in characteristic ruthless fashion.

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Crave for unity
Former Naivasha MP John Mututho says there is need for the region to be united so as to be able to navigate the succession race with a common agenda which will be beneficial to the residents.
“As senior leaders in the community, the locals are looking at us to steer the region in good directions. All I want is to urge leaders across the political divide to pull in one direction as we move towards 2022. This is a critical moment when strong leadership quality will count,” said the former chairman of Nacada.
But Mt Kenya Youth Caucus chairman Linford Mutembei said the impending succession is likely to favour those who have a history of seeking national recognition rather than those who have been content with politicking without venturing outside their home areas.
“One thing one can be sure of is that Uhuru will also give his blessings to a stable pair of hands who will also seek to cement the president’s legacy even after his exit,” added Mutembei.

According to him, Kenneth had a head start, and also “had a clean record in public service and a well-regarded development record during his two parliamentary terms.”
Sources close to Kenneth say he plans to visit various towns in Mt Kenya especially Nyeri, Embu, Meru and Nakuru with his backyard of Murang’a having been wrapped up
Kiunjuri is believed to be doing similar legwork mostly in Murang’a, Kiambu and Nairobi with his team confident that he is ahead in Nyeri and Laikipia backyards.
The interesting arena is in Meru where the strategy of Munya, Kiraitu and Kindiki remains largely obscure outside clashes that come with sibling rivalry.
Munya’s strategic think tank is said to be seriously eroded after droves decamped to Kiraitu’s camp while insiders in the Meru governor’s camp think he too is flatfooted by Uhuru’s opaque future political strategy.
“The uncertainty of the moment is that senior politicians are even mulling returning to parliamentary politics with insinuations that Uhuru is still seriously considering the Prime Minister’s position to be created by the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI). This has created bad blood with incumbents in their backyards,” said one veteran politician who has worked with both camps in the past.
To complicate matters is the recent heightened activity by Meru Senator Mithika Linturi, a Ruto ally who appears to have sensed a leadership vacuum in Meru in the last two weeks to launch an offensive.
Today (Monday), he will be hosting other 11 Meru MPs to a meeting at his office in Meru town which was originally set for Saturday. South Imenti MP Kathuri Murungi who deputises Linturi as Meru PG chair confirmed this meeting saying it was “routine only that it will be in Meru and not Nairobi.”
Other sources said the PG is to discuss Meru political future, pending promises under Jubilee and inability by the inter-ministerial team headed by Interior CS Fred Matiang’i to unlock stalled water, roads and infrastructure projects.
The PG will also discuss miraa sub-sector and the government ‘poor’ response to market bottlenecks in the main export market in Somalia, stillborn projects to help the stimulant value chain and the general lethargic attitude by the government as regards the livelihood of a large section of khat growing population in five constituencies in Nyambene region of Meru.
It comes hot on heels of a series of meetings held by Linturi in the last two weeks.  Those include a press conference on miraa issues at his home, a meeting with the disbanded miraa taskforce report implementation committee and a meeting with nine Igembe MCAs at Laare Township.

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