Former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth has formed a team and secretariat that will launch his campaign after a long period of silence and uncertainty.
The 2013 presidential candidate’s conspicuous presence at high-level political meetings has triggered talk of him being President Uhuru Kenyatta’s successor in Mt Kenya.
His handlers have started sprucing up the Democratic Congress (DC) party, which is chaired by Mr Tom Mboya Jr, the last-born son of independence minister Tom Mboya.
The party is revamping its 24 offices across the country. The Nairobi office is expected to be the nerve centre of the Kenneth campaign.
The PK Hub, to be launched in Nairobi this week, will be the command base of all of Mr Kenneth’s political activities.
The sprucing up of the Democratic Congress means that the Mt Kenya succession politics will be based on parties: Martha Karua’s Narc Kenya, former Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri’s The Service Party and Agriculture minister Peter Munya’s Party of National Unity (PNU).
In an interview with the Sunday Nation, Mr Kenneth did not hide “my closeness to the President – a significant asset in the 2022 succession politics.
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s word and backing will go a long way in a candidate’s chances.
Mr Kenneth said his focus currently is to help unlock the county funding stalemate at the Senate, win back Mr Kenyatta’s influence in the region and unite the region as the 2022 General Election approaches.
“We need not read too much in the two of us striking a cooperation formula. The President has never been my political enemy and we have remained close. I hear others say I contested against him in 2013, yet the two of us are democrats,” he said.
Being unelected and not a member of the ruling Jubilee party, Mr Kenneth’s presence in these meetings – including with Cabinet secretaries – has not been lost on political observers.
About his prominence in the President’s firefighting missions, to a point where there is speculation of his standing with State House on Mt Kenya politics, Mr Kenneth laughs it off.
“Everything starts as a rumour but the end result is more important. Let us wait and see how it turns out,” he said.
Former Maragua MP Elias Mbau, an ally of Mr Kenneth said meetings between President Kenyatta and the former Gatanga lawmaker “reached a gentleman’s agreement”.
“Kenneth, through respected Mt Kenya businesspeople and politicians, was proposed to the President. He is the only son who has experience, charisma and wealth to champion the region’s agenda beyond 2022,” Mr Mbau said.
Former Provincial Commissioner Joseph Kaguthi told the Sunday Nation that the region’s opinion shapers “were worried that the scion of Kenya’s founding father Mzee Jomo Kenyatta would be inconsiderate and hand over power as if it was the stub of cigarette.”
“It is for those 24 years when Daniel arap Moi was in power that jiggers visited our feet. Every other backbone of Mt Kenya’s economy collapsed and poverty set in as Mungiki, bred out of the frustrations of area youth, sprouted. For the whole stretch of the Moi rule, they wreaked havoc in the region,” he said.
But Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua and his Kiharu counterpart Ndindi Nyoro dismissed Mr Kenneth’s ambition, saying he has zero chance of becoming the region’s kingpin.
“Kenneth is a man who represents everything that Mt Kenya would wish to forget. In 2013 when Uhuru Kenyatta needed all the community members around him owing to the International Criminal Court case, he struck a defiant chord and went ahead to contest against him,” said Mr Gachagua.
Mr Gachagua added that Mr Kenneth has never been heard articulating the region’s economic interests “and has a tendency of showing up after five years to ask for votes”.
“We want to say that we are not statues packed to wait for him,” he said.
Man of integrity
Mr Nyoro said Mr Kenneth “had a remote chance of becoming the Mt Kenya political kingpin until he started forming alliances with Raila Odinga”.
Mr Nyoro said Raila is a political problem in Mt Kenya and “associating with him is a risk that comes with a price”.
A city based group, however, has thrown its weight behind Mr Kenneth.
“We the people of Mt Kenya region – Nairobi Chapter – rally our full support behind Mr Kenneth to be endorsed as the region’s spokesperson once the term of President Kenyatta ends,” said Mr Dickson Muturi on behalf of a group of young people in Nairobi.
He argued that the region understands that it needs a spokesperson.
“The only sober person we can trust with this is Peter Kenneth, a man of integrity who cannot be compromised. With him at the high table, we cannot be shortchanged,” Mr Muturi said.
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