Gachagua: I’m the present and the future of Mt Kenya politics

Rigathi Gachagua

Deputy President William Ruto’s running mate  Rigathi Gachagua.

Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Since he was picked as William Ruto’s running mate, Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua has been in the limelight for good and bad reasons. In the first of a two-part series, Mr Gachagua talks about life after nominations, Martha Karua and his past record that has been used as a weapon against the Kenya Kwanza coalition.

It is exactly a month since Deputy President William Ruto picked you to be his running mate. How has it been?

I have become increasingly busy. I have added responsibilities since I am the deputy captain of the team. I deputise for Ruto on many matters. I chair meetings on his behalf. I accompany him to many places. We split our teams into four.

There is one headed by the DP himself, I head Team Two, ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi leads the third while the fourth is under Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua and National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi. By doing that, we can cover the whole country effectively.

I chair many meetings. I start from 5am to 9am and then get on the campaign trail until I get back at 6pm. Even then, I still have to sit in meetings until midnight. My hands are full.

What would you say has been your contribution Dr Ruto’s campaign?

I have taken some loads from the DP’s shoulders. Previously, we were in his team but did not have the mandate to make decisions, chair meetings and give directions.

 I have lessened his work. I am now able to go to campaign on my own. This is bringing value to the presidential campaign. I have led more than 100 meetings in the Mt Kenya in the last three weeks. Now the DP comes to the mountain just once in a while. I cover the whole region. I also had many meetings in the Rift Valley.

When the DP made me his running mate, he tasked me with the responsibility of the economy. I am doing a lot in the Kenya Kwanza economic forums. I have chaired economic forums in the Rift Valley, the mountain and other places.

I go out to listen to people’s priorities and what they would want the Kenya Kwanza government to do for them. That has eased the DP’s work and brought diversity and value in our campaign.

Chama Cha Kazi leader Moses Kuria has expressed displeasure with the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) while Tujibebe party chief William Kabogo accuses you of being a despot. Why are they unhappy with you?

Kuria and I are friends. He visits my home frequently. We share the same ideals and he has never expressed any misgivings about my leadership. I don’t want to dwell on Kabogo as that is a Kiambu matter. I am a national leader.

The discomfort expressed by Kabogo has everything to do with Kiambu where he, Kuria and Senator Kimani Wamatangi want to be governor. I cannot help any of them because I am not a Kiambu voter and I am a father-figure to the three.

Kabogo, Kuria and Wamatangi are my friends. I cannot dictate to the people of Kiambu who they should vote for.

I can only advise my friend Kabogo to take his battles where they belong. I have no favourite candidate in Kiambu. I have no influence there as far as the governor seat is concerned. I am busy with the presidential campaigns.

Whatever Kenyans witnessed happened at my meeting. I invited all of them to speak. But there were some issues. There is no problem in Kenya Kwanza. That small matter had everything to do with Kiambu county.

What of the claims that UDA advised its candidates not to work with Kuria and Kabogo?

UDA is an autonomous party. Naturally, we campaign for our candidates. But when we go to a place like Kiambu where there is a fair contest among the Kenya Kwanza candidates, we allow the people to make their own decision. That is why I allowed the three to speak at the meeting.

Kabogo was probably uncomfortable with my being firm. He came to the meeting with his sound system and was interrupting others. I told him that was not allowed. It was my meeting and there had to be order.

He probably felt I was a bit harsh. If he wants to have his meeting in his style, he is free to do so. We do not want anarchy in any of our meetings.

There have been questions about your work as a civil servant in Molo. Could you set the record right on this?

I want to put it on record that I have never served in Molo. The stations I worked are known.

My file number at the Office of the President is PF 611592. I served in Kirinyaga, Kiambu, Laikipia, Garissa, Turkana, Kakamega and in the Office of the President in Nairobi. I have never served in Nakuru, leave alone Molo.

That story has been concocted by people who want to incite residents of Mt Kenya against me. They want to show that I was in Molo during those troubled times.

Fortunately, the story is not getting any traction. I would like to advise the media that before peddling such rumours, take time to authenticate. In every government administration office is a board that lists the people who served and the years of service. Some people want to poison the minds of Mt Kenya.

Questions about your time as a District Officer keep coming up, especially the way you dealt with those that were perceived to be opposed to President Daniel arap Moi

The problem is quoting bloggers. It is bloggers who have made those things up.

I never appeared in the Truth Justice and Reconciliation (TJRC) report and have never been high-handed. Who says I was high-handed? Go to Limuru and ask residents.

I restored security in the area and locals are still happy with me. During my time in Kiambaa, I oversaw the demarcation of Kiambaa-Kawaida ranch, Thindigua ranch and others.

That is why John Njuguna Wanjiku won the by-election I campaigned for him. He won because of my record there. People are happy with the way I dealt with crime.

I am very happy with my record as a D.O. I have never appeared in any inquiry report. This is just propaganda. There is nothing wrong with having served under Moi.

Uhuru Kenyatta was Moi’s project. He was a minister in Moi’s government. If people who support President Kenyatta and Raila Odinga have a problem with those who served under Moi, they should have a problem with Uhuru Kenyatta.

Anyone who is somebody in this country today served under Moi. He was the president for 24 years. Where else would we have worked? Mwai Kibaki was Moi’s deputy for 10 years. Nobody talks about that.

Some people have a problem with Gachagua, a small fellow whose influence was minimal. How can you have a problem with Gachagua serving Moi when Gideon Moi (President Moi’s son) is in Azimio la Umoja and nobody has an issue with that? Where did you want me to work?

Uhuru Kenyatta, Raila Odinga, Mwai Kibaki all served under Moi. I have a clear account of my actions and what I did for the people in places I served.

Is it then a case of critics misunderstanding you?

It is deliberate. The critics are unhappy with my sway and influence in Mt Kenya and the votes I am marshalling for Ruto.

They twist things. But it has not worked. Wherever I go, thousands of people come to listen me. They are happy with our programmes.

There has been a lot of talk about the (Azimio la Umoja running mate) Martha Karua effect, especially in Mt Kenya. Are you feeling the heat?

That is a creation of the media. We don’t feel it when we go to the ground. I have not heard of anybody who used to support Ruto changing sides because of Karua.

In any case, Karua is not the presidential candidate. She is a running mate. But I know it is the work of some people in Mt Kenya because Raila Odinga is not accepted in the region. He is hiding behind Karua.

When I was in Subukia, I encountered a Jubilee ward representative candidate who has put her picture and that of Karua in her campaign posters. Ordinarily, candidates use the portrait of the presidential candidate.

The people of the mountain know who the opponent is. You cannot substitute Odinga with Karua. The people are intelligent. Things are the way that they were before her being named Azimio running mate or even better for us.

Much of the discussion about Karua revolves around her reform credentials and fight for the second liberation. In your case, a lot of talk has been about your time as a D.O and the claims about abuses. Is this a fair comparison?

The voters I listen to do not care about the second liberation. They are interested in the third liberation. People are not interested in history. They are interested in the present and future. O

dinga and Karua represent the past. This history is available in books. You don’t have to tell them what you did and did not do. Most of the young people do not care about who fought for independence and second liberation.

What they want is food on the table, creation of jobs and a good environment to do business. That is what I and Ruto are interested in. We belong to the future. Those who want to read history and elect somebody because they participated in that liberation are free to do so. But I know a majority of voters want leaders who have a plan for them.

Our young people want to know every candidate’s programme for creating jobs. Many businesspeople want to know how the candidates will stabilise the economy and improve circulation of money. Many people want to know about healthcare.

The comparison between myself and Karua is like day and night. We are working on economic changes that will create jobs and a good business environment so that our people can thrive. That is the difference. People can continue making these comparisons but you cannot compare day and night.

Tomorrow: Rigathi reveals what their polling number says, the Ruto manifesto and why Ruto failed to implement promises he is making now during Jubilee’s first term.


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