Gachagua pending bills
Caption for the landscape image:

Where is Gachagua? Questions as DP misses key State events

Scroll down to read the article

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua.

Photo credit: File| NATION

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua’s absence when President William Ruto hosted his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni is one of at least nine consecutive events that the second in command, who has been a fixture next to his boss in key functions, has missed.

Questions now linger on the whereabouts of Mr Gachagua, who has never shied away from speaking his mind in public forums.

Mr Gachagua’s last public appearance was on Sunday during a roadside engagement at Kagumo Market in Kirinyaga County, a day after he said he supports the one man-one vote-one shilling resource allocation formula.

“This afternoon was a moment of sharing crucial gains in reforming the tea, coffee and dairy and other sub-sector reforms aimed at dignifying small-scale farmers,” said the DP about the Kagumo stopover, adding on his social media pages that reporting to the public on the progress of transforming the country by implementing the plan of Kenya Kwanza was part of his responsibilities.

There has been no public communication on Mr Gachagua’s whereabouts.

The Deputy President raised eyebrows on Friday last week when he failed to participate in the national tree planting exercise that involved the President, Cabinet secretaries and senior State officials.

The DP had been scheduled to plant trees in Bomet County, but reportedly cancelled at the last minute, after an advance team from his office had arrived. Some sources pointed to a disagreement on the use of helicopters.

As has been the norm, the DP would have ideally accompanied his boss to Kiambicho Forest in Maragua, Murang’a County, to plant trees at the event in his backyard.

The President said the day was set aside by the Cabinet in honour of those who lost their lives as a result of the floods that ravaged various parts of the country.

Pet projects

Mr Gachagua was also missing from State House on Tuesday when President Ruto met with chairpersons and directors of key agencies where they agreed to effect the Tea Tribunal to deal with disputes among stakeholders. Reforms in tea, milk and coffee sectors are the DP’s pet projects, having been handed the responsibility by his boss.

In the absence of the DP, the President tasked Chief of Staff and Head of Public Service Felix Koskei to handle the matter. Mr Koskei took to social media platform X to announce that he had taken the responsibility to resolve the issues facing the sector.

“Today (Wednesday), under the President’s direction, I convened a meeting focused on unlocking barriers affecting small-holder tea farmers,” he stated on X on Wednesday, listing the attendees, who included principal secretaries Paul Rono (Agriculture) and Patrick Kilemi (Cooperatives), and other stakeholders.

The same day, Mr Gachagua, also tasked with coordinating international partnership engagements, missed a meeting with European Union (EU) diplomats on the signing of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) on trade, investment and regulation.

He was also missing during the swearing in of the new High court judges and conferment of the rank of senior counsel to advocates at State House Nairobi.

Last weekend, the DP ignited a fierce debate on the one man-one vote-one shilling resource sharing proposal as he pushed for more resources for the populous Mt Kenya region.

He made the remarks during the consecration of Bishop John Kimani Nthiga at the ACK Cathedral of St Peter Mbeere in Embu County, before he proceeded to address the public outside the church, where he repeated the proposal.

The DP and others had opposed the one-man-one-vote-one shilling proposal when then President Uhuru Kenyatta initiated it through the Third Basic Formula for sharing revenue with counties.

According to insiders, the DP is believed to be in his home area in Mathira but is unavailable to those who have tried to reach him.

“The DP has decided to go mute. People in government have been trying to reach him but his phone is switched off. We are not sure whether he is Mathira or Nairobi,” said a senior government official who declined to be named.

A UDA senator also told the Nation that he unsuccessfully tried to reach Mr Gachagua on phone and even reached out to some of his close confidants without success.

“It’s unusual for the DP to be unreachable. His phone is off,” said the second-term senator.

The DP’s absence was conspicuous when President Museveni landed at State House, with nearly eight Cabinet Secretaries waiting to receive him at the bilateral talks.

When President Museveni jetted into the country on Wednesday evening, with Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi at hand to receive him at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

On the same Wednesday, President Ruto presided over a recruits’ pass-out parade at the Kenya Defence Forces Recruits Training School in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County, a function that the DP also missed. Other leaders from Nyeri County were present at the event.

Having attended previous KDF pass-outs in other military schools alongside the Commander-in-Chief, Mr Gachagua’s absence at the ceremony that involved more than 4,000 recruits was loud.

The Nation sent a text message to Njeri Rugene, the head of the Deputy President’s Communication Service, enquiring on Mr Gachagua’s whereabouts, but she had not responded by the time of going to press. Our phone calls also went unanswered

The behind the scenes intrigues have not escaped some observers. Githunguri MP Gathoni Wamuchomba, in a satirical move, posted a picture on X on Wednesday of the President and his deputy on September 13, 2022 kneeling together with their spouses after the swearing at Kasarani stadium, with added clouds hanging over them.

No pictures or statements

President Ruto left for Rwanda yesterday morning and no pictures or statements were released about his departure or who saw him off. It is customary for the DP and other senior government official to accompany the President to the airport.

The outspoken DP prides himself as the President’s blue-eyed boy, insisting that anyone who wants to access his boss must go through him.

Article 147 of the constitution on the functions of the DP states: “The Deputy President shall be the principal assistant of the President and shall deputise the President in the execution of the President’s functions.”

It adds: “The Deputy President shall perform the functions conferred by this Constitution and any other functions of the President as the President may assign.”

Also as per Article 134 of the constitution, when the President is absent or is temporarily incapacitated, and during any other period that the President decides, the DP shall act as the President.

Despite the DP being the President’s principal assistant, he has been fighting many fires in government. Apart from MPs like MP Ndindi Nyoro whom he has called out publicly over his inroads in the Mountain, he also has Public Service Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria to contend with over the region’s kingpin debate.