The declaration of a Gusii unity bid and a suggestion that Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i lead the effort have thrown him under the political spotlight, with speculation that he is pulling the strings from behind a thick curtain.
On Thursday, he was goaded by politicians from his Kisii backyard to establish himself as their regional kingpin.
Dr Matiang’i has himself not declared interest in succeeding President Uhuru Kenyatta, at least not publicly, and it’s probable that he will not do so without the express authority of the Head of State.
But the Thursday meeting seems to point to the possibility of Dr Matiang’i taking a stab at the presidency. Should that be the case, he will be required to step down from his position six months to the elections, in accordance with the law.
Most effective leaders
As a Cabinet minister, Dr Matiang’i is not allowed by law to dabble in politics. Also, he does not have a rich political heritage and might therefore not dazzle on the podium, but he is regarded as one of the most effective leaders in President Kenyatta’s Cabinet.
The 15 MPs, who included allies of Deputy President William Ruto, had met in Nairobi on Wednesday at Sagret Hotel before making the announcement a day later at the Serena Hotel.
The MPs say the unity caucus will rope in most elected leaders from the region and is working on a structured approach to politics going into the future.
Some of the lawmakers in the Wednesday meeting included Simba Arati, (Dagoretti North), Silvanus Osoro (South Mugirango), Joash Nyamoko (North Mugirango), Jimmy Angweny (Kitutu Chache North), Alpha Miruka (Bomachoge Chache), Samuel Arama (Nakuru Town West) and Richard Onyonka (Kitutu Chache South). Nominated Senator Millicent Omanga and Nyamira Woman Rep Jerusha Momanyi were also present.
The politicians said they had resolved that they will “not be spectators, but participants” in the President Kenyatta succession.
“We will not be substitutes in the team, but must be on the pitch,” they said in a statement. “We will not be led to sing, we will conduct our song too.”
The lawmakers said they have been watching events unfold in the political space with keen interest and it was now clear that communities are having internal conversations on how to secure their interests ahead of the 2022 General Election.
“As elected leaders from our community, we will be failing in our collective responsibility if we do not offer leadership at this critical point in time. This is a mandate that we will discharge without fear or favour,” they said.
The legislators added that they will soon organise a series of consultative meetings with all leaders and stakeholders from the Gusii community to identify and streamline their political and economic interests.
That declaration sounded eerily similar to one made by Dr Matiang’i a fortnight ago as he launched projects in Kisii and Nyamira counties. He said that if residents of the two counties enlist as voters, their numbers will reveal that they are critical in determining the next leadership after the expiry of President Kenyatta’s term.
“The community will not be watching from the windows, we will be right in the middle of the table with other negotiators,” Dr Matiang’i said. Although he was not available for comment on the Gusii unity caucus as he was said to be out of the country on official duty, his handlers said he supports the lawmakers and the community’s need to unite.
Mr Nyamoko, who has for the last two years had a dalliance with Deputy President William Ruto, said he supports Gusii unity and vowed to rally behind the CS.
“We know your record. You have put Gusii on the country’s map. You have been consistent. A community that stands together goes far,” he said during the visit by Dr Matiang’i.