Deputy President William Ruto’s attempts to solidify his support base in Central since President Uhuru Kenyatta’s toured the region last month seems to be faltering.
The number of allies accompanying him has reduced tremendously.The DP’s visit to Nyeri Town constituency on Friday was a low key affair with most elected leaders keeping off, except for Nyeri Woman Rep Rahab Mukami, Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua and his Mukurweini counterpart Anthony Kiai.
This is in contrast to a meeting held at the same venue on December 8, where Ruto was accompanied by MPs Aisha Jumwa (Malindi), Alice Wahome (Kandara), Vincent Musau (Mwala), Moses Kuria (Gatundu South) among others. Others were Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga, his deputy Caroline Karugu, Nyeri Speaker John Kaguchia, area MP Ngunjiri Wambugu and MCAs.
In December, the DP’s arrival was marked with song and dance as the leaders welcomed him to the dais but yesterday, there was no fanfare as the DP walked from his chopper to the dais for a fundsdrive.Besides the rousing welcome, the enthusiastic leaders used to take to the podium to laud Ruto for his generosity.
In the past one week, however, the number of leaders willing to share a podium with him has dwindled.“President Uhuru Kenyatta has said leaders should concentrate on development not politics. Central leaders are now heeding that call,” Muranga Senator Irungu Kangata said. During his visit to ACK Cathedral in Kerugoya town, Kirinyaga County last Sunday, the DP was accompanied by Kirinyaga Central MP Munene Wambugu, Gichimu Githinji (Gichugu), Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu) and Kandara MP Alice Wahome. The MPs did not address the congregation except for Kirinyaga Woman Rep Wangui Ngirici who was asked to introduce the leaders.
During the burial of Robert Mwaura Gitau, the father of the DP’s ally Anthony Mwaura, a few local MPs attended the funeral service at St Joseph Catholic Church in Gatitu Village, Murang’a.The leaders in attendance were Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen, MPs Ms Wahome, Mr Gachagua, Mr Nyoro, Mr Kuria and Kimani Ichungw’a (Kikuyu).The DP’s low key visits to Central come after the President’s tour to Nyandarua and Kirinyaga where he warned leaders against engaging in 2022 succession politics.
Most MPs seem to have taken a cue from the Head of State and are now shying away the DP’s functions. Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu said the leaders seem to have realised the DP’s agenda. “They now realise he’s no longer working as a representative of the President, but is running his own personal agenda in conflict, open defiance, and full rebellion against the President,” Mr Wambugu claimed.“Most leaders are doing as the President has been instructed by working for their people … now and deal with 2022, then,” he added.
Mr Kang’ata explained that Mt Kenya leaders do not want tokenism and handouts culture. “We prefer policies that uplift our people. We want the people strengthened to develop themselves not being given cash handouts, that model is not sustainable,” he said. Even the tone of the DP’s meetings has shifted from confrontational to reconciliation. At Giakanja, those in attendance urged the DP to soldier on despite the odds against him.“You have been undergoing a lot of pressure but you should remain steadfast in your position and ambitions. We shall support you,” Gachagua said.
Mr Kiai who arrived late for the function defended the leaders absence saying they could have had other commitments. “Today’s timing was not good and I had other commitments that is why I came in late, but we were not discussing politics, and it is important to note that I support the presidency which is President Uhuru and Ruto,” he said.
Gachagua also said the size of the entourage depends on advance planning and commitments of individual MPs.“The fact of the matter is that we support the DP and the President as a single unit. You cannot say that we are supporting one to the exclusion of the other without contradicting yourself,” he said.