Uhuru loses Kiambu to Ruto

President Uhuru Kenyatta risks denting his political legacy at home if the growing protest from his Kiambu County backyard over the handling of his succession persists.

Key elected and non-elected leaders in Kiambu have consistently protested the perceived systematic sidelining of the Deputy President William Ruto, in what is being seen as high-level political conmanship that has sent shockwaves across Mt. Kenya region.

The leaders are not shying from telling Uhuru to desist from portraying the region as undependable partner in the political the undependable partner in the political alliances, which may place a heavy burden on its future ability to be trusted by other regions.

Even more telling is the defying of Uhuru’s call on Kiambu leaders to tone down on politics and end the ‘tanga tanga’ movements, a warning, which implied that they should stop following Ruto around.

Instead, the Tanga Tanga brigade seems to have rejuvenated its political activities as Ruto has made back to back appearances in the last three weeks in Kiambu and Murang’a counties on invitation by the respective governors.

Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu has not only emerged as the key Ruto man in Mt. Kenya but has also recently accompanied Ruto to meetings in Kakamega, Kisii and parts of central and Rift Valley.

In Kisii, Waititu was categorical that Mt. Kenya will stand with Ruto. “We see Ruto not only as a leader but a hard worker. We do not just want leaders, who give stories. It is very unfortunate that a section of leaders is ready to do anything possible to prevent the Deputy President from becoming the president,” said Waititu.

In Kakamega, Waititu said that no one should cheat Kenyans that Ruto will not receive support from Mt. Kenya region.

Keep the promise “We are ready as in 2013 when it was agreed that we shall back you. As the people of the Mt. Kenya region, we follow development. And we know and we have seen the kind of work Ruto has done in terms of development,” the Kiambu Governor said.

He termed the matter of electing Ruto in Mt. Kenya as “black and white”.“Mt. Kenya people are not political conmen so that we cheat the people of the Rift Valley. We are not children. If it was not Ruto, even God knows, Uhuru would not have gotten the presidency. We are taking Raila as the angel now. Surely, who does not know the history of this man?” he said.

Other key protestors from Kiambu have included Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, the parliamentary representative for Kenyattas and Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichunga.

Some leaders have however, chosen to fence sit to watch over how the politics unfold before choosing, which side to openly support.

What is revealing is the tone of the elected leaders in condemning the blockades placed against Ruto, giving an insight that they may not be seeing Uhuru maintaining his influence over Mt. Kenya vote post his retirement in 2022.

Former Kiambu governor William Kabogo has also weighed in. He asked Uhuru not to forget the painstaking discussions that took place between the two and the promises that each of them made, plus the gains that they have achieved politically so far.

He cautioned the President to be careful of how he portrays Mt. Kenya people to be.“We want to make it clear that as people from Mt. Kenya, we are not political conmen. We promised in 2013 that we will support President Kenyatta for 10 years and Ruto for another 10 years. Our agreement still stands,” he said.

The protest is replicated in many other counties across Mt. Kenya, based on observations and discussions within opinion leaders, raising questions of why Uhuru is not realising the effects of his political maneuvers, which may also slow realisation of his Big 4 Agenda.

A strategic mistake some observers say Uhuru made is to appoint a cabal of mostly unelected leaders to lead the anti-Ruto campaign in Mt. Kenya region.

The group is led by nominated MP Maina Kamanda and also includes former Nairobi Governor Aspirant Peter Kenneth.

The group has taken to intensified campaigns especially in Kiambu and Murang’a counties and their threats that those who do not support the president’s stand will lose their seats come 2022. This has not gone well to build a consensus on a unified political stand in Mt. Kenya.

Legacy at stake if the protests persist, and pro-Ruto leaders, most of whom are elected, succeed in swaying the public opinion, Uhuru’s political and economic legacy may be seriously dented, ending up being seen as a lame duck president.

Uhuru is already facing serious perception issues in Mt. Kenya over his ability to steer the economy. It is that irony for a region whose political interests are driven by economic considerations, the president from the same region is being seen as sabotaging those same interests.

The accusations of the president not influencing the allocation of adequate development resources to Mt. Kenya has refused to go away, even among the region’s elites whose opinion is respected by the masses.

Now, the continued importation of eggs from Uganda, which is hurting the local poultry farmers has again thrown Uhuru supporters into confusion especially considering that Kiambu, his home county, is the biggest producer of poultry and eggs in Kenya.

In the dairy sector, where Uhuru’s family business Brookside Diary controls both the raw and the processed milk markets, prices have dropped to a low of Sh27 per litre compared to a high of Sh35 per litre a few years ago.

Strangely, however, while the prices of raw milk have dropped, those of processed milk have remained higher and rising, handing over a huge advantage to the processors, where Uhuru’s family has a controlling national market.

Bungled process

The increasingly, now bungled succession process, is also seen as Uhuru’s self-sabotage gamble because it has taken away some attention from the Big 4 Agenda.

The economic transformation agenda required all the energies and focus in the remaining four years of Uhuru’s final term but the politics and the perceived undermining of his deputy has deflected focus on managing the uncertain fallout.

Although Uhuru allies control all the ministries that Big 4 Agenda fall under, Ruto’s equal muscle of the control of the Cabinet and key departments could mean his people focus less on an agenda whose beneficiary is fighting their godfather.

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