Deputy President William Ruto takes his bottom-up campaign to Kitui County today (Friday) in an effort to woo directly the Kamba community into backing his presidential bid.
Since the 2017 General Election, Dr Ruto’s political activity in Ukambani has been minimal, unlike other regions like Mount Kenya, Kisii, Coast and Western regions where he has been frequenting.
Today’s visit where the DP will address three rallies in Kabati market in Kitui west, Kitui Town, and Migwani market in Mwingi west, is seen as a belated entry to a region whose top leaders are vehemently opposed to his candidacy.
He’s also expected to return to Kitui on Sunday, for two church functions in Mutito in Kitui east and later at Kiusyani in Kitui Rural constituency.
In 2019, Dr Ruto’s attempts to woo Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka through former Machakos Senator Johnstone Muthama failed after his political overtures were rejected.
Nevertheless, Mr Muthama parted ways with Mr Musyoka and joined Dr Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) where he assumed the role of interim national party chairman.
On the other hand, Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu, who blames Dr Ruto for her sacking from President Uhuru Kenyatta’s cabinet in 2015, have been vocal in rallying the community against the DP’s bid.
Governor Ngilu has been more categorical, keeping sustained political attacks against the DP and urging Mr Musyoka to join hands with ODM leader Raila Odinga, to guarantee a sure victory against r Ruto in 2022 elections.
The sustained attacks by the two leaders is perhaps the reason why Dr Ruto’s campaigns in the region were low key, until last week when he hosted a caucus of Kamba leaders in Amboseli to discuss his campaign strategy.
A few weeks ago, Dr Ruto hosted at his Karen residence delegations of leaders from Kitui and Makueni counties including religious leaders and some members of county assemblies.
However, with Mr Muthama on his side, the DP has recruited aspirants from each of the region’s 22 constituencies who are interested in running for elections on UDA party ticket, to help him get a share of Ukambani’s more than 1.5 million votes.
Mr Muthama has avoided upsetting both Mr Musyoka and Governor Ngilu in his speeches saying the community should not put all eggs in one basket.
Quoting the Bible, the former senator describes his political sojourn in UDA as a fishing expedition on behalf of the Kamba community and not to derail Mr Musyoka’s own presidential bid.
“Where I am now, I’ll be your Joseph in Pharaoh’s government who saved his household in Egypt during Israel’s slavery, and your interests are well catered for” he said on Monday in apparent reference to his role in DP Ruto presidential campaign.
At Kabati, the DP will preside over funds drive in aid of local women groups. Curiously the event will be held at the home of one of the aspirants Ben Muasya, prompting a disquiet from another UDA aspirant Sammy Ngangi.
In Kitui town, former Nairobi deputy governor Jonathan Mueke will play host while in Migwani reports indicate he’ll receive some MCAs who are planning to defect from the Wiper party.
On Sunday, former Kitui Rural MP Charles Nyamai, who is among key figures rooting for Dr Ruto in Ukambani, will host him at the Gospel Assembly Church in Kiusyani.