Dealing with allies at war with each other: Gachagua's Dilemma in Kiambu


Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya| NMG

What you need to know:

  • The tricky balancing act is how to have all politicians in UDA’s fold without appearing to take sides.
  • Already some majority of Kiambu MCAs have accused Gachagua of taking sides with some leaders.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua is in a dilemma on how to keep feuding politicians from Kiambu County all who belong to the ruling party.

The tricky balancing act is how to have them all in his fold without appearing to take sides in a development that has split his political allegiance between county representatives and the majority of Members of the County Assembly (MCAs).

Mr Gachagua has been accused by the majority of MCAs of taking sides with some leaders accusing him of being soft on Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichungwa (National Assembly Majority leader), Thika Town MP Alice Ng’ang'a, Kiambu Senator Karungo Wathangw'a and Gatundu South MP Gabriel Kagombe who have been feuding with Governor Kimani Wa Matangi over the selection of some development projects and allocation of funds in their respective jurisdictions.

To the county representatives, Mr Gachagua is just playing succession politics through a cosmetic approach pitting Governor Wamatangi, Mr Ichungwa, Thika Town MP Alice Nga'ng'a and Senator Karungo Wathangw'a and Mr Kagombe who have poked holes in some of his social programs targeting the old and vulnerable which the trio describes as untimely and unsustainable.

The climax of the infighting within the UDA leadership in Kiambu came last week on Wednesday when President William Ruto and his deputy were touring Lari constituency to launch development projects when Mr Ichungwa, Senator Thang'wa and Ms Ng'ang'a engaged Mr Wamatangi in a shouting match.

An embarrassed Mr Ruto and his deputy pleaded for calm as Ms Ng'ang'a announced that she will seek to unseat Mr Wamatangi in the 2027 general elections.

But even as this happens, the three truce meetings Mr Gachagua has chaired with Kiambu MPs from the twelve constituencies in the presence of Mr Wamatangi seems to be a political succession game plan and more of a battle of wits as he seeks to align his dream team in Mount Kenya region to succeed President Ruto when he retires.

He is also aware of an emerging faction in Mount Kenya supporting Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro who is seen as being groomed by President Ruto for future leadership.

Mr Wamatangi, aware that both internal and external politics may be at play and reading mischief in past truce deals that never worked, addressed the issue when the Head of State toured Kiambu on Wednesday last week.

"I have made a decision not to allow bad politics to destroy this county. I am always with the people, serving them to advance your bottom-up agenda. And I agree with your call for unity. And I should ask our leaders, let it not be that during the day we say we should unite but at night people are scheming how to foment infighting," said Mr Wamatangi.

Reprimanding his loyalists in Kiambu was a difficult task for Mr Gachagua as Mr Ichungwa, Mr Thang'wa and Ms Ng'ang'a were key UDA point men in the county during the last general election.

The trio, good orators, was instrumental in fending off the influence from the retired President Uhuru Kenyatta that could have worked in favour of opposition leader Raila Odinga who contested the presidency against his political rival, Mr Ruto, who went on to win.

Speaking in Gatundu South last Friday during the launch of an irrigation project, the Deputy President said MCAs should not fight the Kikuyu MP, Mr Ichungwa, but support him as his current position puts him at an advantageous point to rise politically.

"The President, out of his mercy, has given Kiambu the position of National Assembly Majority Leader. And I want to ask Kiambu leaders not to be the ones fighting other leaders. I want to ask our MCAs in Kiambu not to fight Kimani Ichung'wa," the DP said.

But recognising that the infighting may have political ramifications and may be part of succession wars, Mr Wamatangi has long since made peace with the majority of county representatives who initially opposed some of his projects.

Ms Ruth Waithira, the Githiga county representative in Kiambu who has been Mr Wamatangi's fiercest critic, told Nation. Africa on Tuesday that the majority of the county representatives decided to work with the devolved government after learning that they were being used to settle political scores in the succession wars.

Kiambu has 60 elected county representatives and 26 nominated ones.

Ms Waithira notes that Mr Wamatangi has addressed the issues raised by the Ward Reps and the agenda now is to work for the people and deliver on the mandate.

Kiambu has 86 ward representatives both elected and nominated and for the longest time, MCAs have been used to push certain agendas for political gain. We have said no to that and we are appealing to the elected MPs in Kiambu and our Senator to let the governor work and if there is any problem in Kiambu, let oversight be the mandate of the county representatives and from where they sit, they should oversee the executive and there is a lot to oversee starting with the Auditor General's reports,'' Ms Waithira said yesterday.

Speaking in Ruiru on Sunday, Kiambu County Assembly members led by Majority Leader Godfrey Mucheke, Kabete MCA Grace Hinga, Patrick Ngaruiya (Ngecha Tigoni) and Kennedy Odhiambo (Kahawa Sukari) among others emphasized that there is a lot of external political infiltration in Kiambu County affecting development in the area.

Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichungwa, Thika Town MP Alice Nga'ng'a, Kiambu Senator Karungo Wathangw'a and Mr. Kagombe have always maintained that they have nothing personal against Mr Wamatangi but are only concerned with the implementation and adoption of some of his projects.