Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, President William Ruto, Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro
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Abandoning Gachagua? Key Mt Kenya allies tear into DP

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Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua (left) and President William Ruto. Inset: Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro.

Photo credit: | Nation Media Group

When Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua decided to help President William Ruto counter then President Uhuru Kenyatta's 'betrayal' ahead of the August 9, 2022 polls, he assembled a team he called the 'Big Six' for the task.

Mr Gachagua, while addressing a church service at Gathiru-ini Presbyterian Church in Kiambu County on August 21, 2023, revealed the names as Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro, then Kandara MP Alice Wahome, Kikuyu Kimani Ichung'wa, then Gatundu South Moses Kuria, Naivasha's Jayne Kihara and himself.

"We held meetings in our private homes and from time to time invited Dr Ruto to come and get assurances that we would not betray him and support Mr Raila Odinga as President Kenyatta wanted. We promised that even if Mr Kenyatta rained fire and brimstone on us, we would remain loyal to the United Democratic Alliance (UDA). They all agreed to make me their team leader as we carried out the onslaught and emerged victorious when we finally managed to deliver the region's 87 per cent of the votes cast," he said. 

Mr Gachagua said he was the frontline general "and that should be documented... It is important that this information is told so that when the history of Mount Kenya is written, how we liberated ourselves from that family (Kenyatta)... enslavement, state capture, conflict of interest... all those things are given good space... history is important".

Kikuyu Council of Elders Patron Kung'u Muigai says it was because of Gachagua's deep pockets that they agreed he should be their team leader. But the running mate contest was the beginning of his nightmare.

While Gachagua was only backed by three people, with current Interior CS Kithure Kindiki getting 27 thumbs up and Attorney General Justin Muturi getting one vote, there were signs that he would not be the unanimous leader of the 'Big Six' should they win. 

Gachagua was quoted as telling Inooro FM: "We were working well and they had accepted me as their team leader until this position of running mate came up... but it will be alright".

Dr Ruto came to his rescue, saying that "those fighting him are driven by nothing but jealousy", adding that "Mr Gachagua is a strong character, represents many of my visions and drive and since the task of choosing a running mate was mine alone, I chose him".

After Dr Ruto won the vote and became the Deputy President, he (Gachagua) has not technically been able to assert his authority and win a common consensus in Mt Kenya that he is fit for the office, is the region's kingpin and the one to take the region into the future. 

A members' check of the 'Big Six' reveals a fallout that is hard to hide, with Ms Kihara admitting that "it is an unimaginable betrayal, a scheme that is hard to comprehend when those of us who started the cause together have started to demean and ridicule the immense psychological and financial sacrifices that Mr Gachagua has made for us to achieve this victory".

Among the reasons given publicly for their defiance so far are allegations that Mr Gachagua is dictatorial, condescending and a tribal activist who demands that everyone submit to him like little children, is an awkward public speaker and has raw contempt for those who exercise independence of mind.

Ms Kihara told Nation.Africa that "it makes my heart bleed to see the very people who were given powerful positions because of Gachagua's hard work and support now turning on him to tell him to hang himself".

She fears that "the machinery to undermine Gachagua is so powerful that it can only represent a hidden plan manipulated from elsewhere".

Ms Kihara's theory is that "without Gachagua, even many of those who are now ganging up against him would not have won in their respective regions and would not have acquired the muscle that today makes them imagine disrespecting their only benefactor who supported their appointment to government". 

Mr Kuria has been the most notable thorn in Gachagua's side, never shying away from pouring cold water on the MP's brand of politics and some pet projects such as the war on alcoholism, which he dismissed as "reckless".

Asked on a recent Citizen TV programme what he thought of Gachagua, Kuria said, "Gachagua is my boss, yes...and I don't know why you are asking me about my boss. But one thing is that we do not have in him a forwarding address for our problems. He cannot go around saying that if we want to do this... achieve that... we have to go through him. It is not like that. Go through him as who?"

Mr Kuria has from time to time, through his social media platforms and spoken word, appeared to indicate his lost respect for the deputy, with rumour mills once prophesying his imminent sacking from Cabinet, where he now serves as Public Service CS. But Gachagua came out and said "he will not be sacked...he is not going anywhere, but I will make it my business to beat his talks and behaviour to conform to the acceptable".

Mr Nyoro has been identified by Gachagua loyalists as one of the main antagonising factors.

So far, a wing led by Murang'a Senator Joe Nyutu has since demanded that President Ruto dumps Mr Gachagua as his 2027 running mate and appoints Mr Nyoro, arguing that "Gachagua despises his juniors, advocates that all should submit to him like little children and is a divisive factor in the Mountain".

Speaking to Nation.Aftica, Ms Wahome said she is constitutionally barred from engaging in electoral politics while holding a cabinet position, "but that won't stop me from making it known that where conflict thrives, development runs away".

She said "there have been pockets of conflict in the Mt Kenya region that have made it impossible even for political leaders to make field visits".

She said it was true that there were rifts among leaders "but we are healing the rifts and emphasising the need for mutual respect, dedication to serving the people and approaching the political future as a united entity for maximum benefit".

Ms Wahome - who tactically avoided mentioning Mr Gachagua's name - said the people of Mt Kenya would remain solidly behind President Ruto.

Mr Ichung'wa has hit out at Mr Gachagua, accusing him of playing "politics of conflict, tribalism and rhetoric".

He told Nation.Aftica that "the only way we can achieve our collective plan is to remain true to good leadership practices as set by President Ruto without stifling democracy and oversight aspects of elected leaders... We cannot have people going around preaching tribalism and plotting how to hold others captive for their selfish gains".

He said: "When things start going against them, that is when they realise they have a tribe they can use as a guard...count Ichung'wa out of such a narrow scheme...threatening us to come and fight you on Mt Kenya soil is is either we are a national team or we are out of the equation". 

Mr Ichung'wa urged Kenyans not to lose sight of the bigger picture of the principles of good governance, prudent use of resources and activism for what improves the quality of governance and life.

Kikiyu Council of Elders patron said "we are in crisis yes as a community and we cannot go on like some point we will demand certain explanations from all the stakeholders in this alliance...we must exercise sanity in our politics because we are now deep in the madness of killing the shepherd so that the flock can scatter for easy capture".