President Uhuru Kenyatta

President Uhuru Kenyatta during a past meeting with over 7,000 leaders from Mt Kenya at Sagana State Lodge, Nyeri County, on February 2, 2021.


Mt Kenya wish list as Uhuru Sagana III meeting beckons

What you need to know:

  • Meeting comes ahead of Jubilee Party’s NDC expected to endorse Mr Odinga’s bid.
  • Leaders looking forward to President explaining ‘divorce’ with his deputy.

The political future of Mt Kenya, the fallout between President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto and the region’s development will be top on the agenda when the Head of State convenes Sagana Three meeting in Nyeri this week. 

Mt Kenya leaders allied to President Kenyatta want him to explicitly declare his support for Azimio la Umoja boss Raila Odinga as well as give clear political directions ahead of this year’s transitional elections.

But even as he exits office later this year, a section of allied leaders still wants the President to remain as Jubilee Party leader as well as the region’s political kingpin after the 2022 elections.

The Sagana Three meeting is scheduled to happen on Wednesday at the Sagana State Lodge in Mathira Nyeri County, a facility that has become the platform where key political decisions for Mt Kenya are made.

This will be the third high profile meeting between the President and Mt Kenya leaders and most likely the last while in office. 

The planned meeting will go hand in hand with what Mt Kenya leaders are calling Jubilee Activation, involving a 33-rally blitz to market the President’s party that had been seen to go into hibernation.

Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu said before the Jubilee National Delegates Convention (NDC) slated for Friday and Saturday, they are planning for over 33 meetings and so far, they have pitched tents in Kiambu, Nyeri, Murang'a, Nyandarua and Nairobi counties.

The idea, he said, is to have one rally in each of the 30 constituencies in the region.

Already, the rallies have happened in Kieni, Gatanga, Kipipiri, Kangema, Mathioya, and Njoro in Nakuru, with even more rallies planned today.

“The MPs have pitched tents in the region where they have been meeting grassroots leaders in what they are calling ‘on-ground activation forums’ where locals get to hear about what the party has done so far, and plans to do as it heads into August,” the Nyeri Town MP said.

Region’s political future

He went ahead: “Picking up from the party leader’s position that the time is now ripe to start campaigns for the August 2022 elections Jubilee Party MPs have heightened political activities across the country with a specific focus on Mt Kenya region as the Party seeks to reclaim its dominance in the region.”

On the President’s visit, leaders who spoke to the Nation said it is strictly a meeting for Mt Kenya leaders and is meant to be a consultative forum with regards to the region’s political future.

Among those invited are elected leaders- mainly allied to the President-grassroots leaders, local business community and community elders.

Leaders who spoke to the Nation said they will be hoping to hear whom the President prefers to succeed him amid growing speculations he could endorse Mr Odinga, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader.

“Whenever there is a decision to make, we usually retreat as a community and discuss the way forward. We did it in 2012 in Limuru and during the BBI debate. I have no doubt it will be the same and we expect the president to explain why he thinks Raila is a better candidate than his deputy,” Kieni MP Kanini Kega said.

The President has already come under heavy criticism over his involvement in the succession politics but his allies maintain he is within his rights to have a political opinion.

For some of the leaders his involvement could well be key in that the region has not managed to pick a common political spokesperson and will not be fielding a main presidential contender for the first time.

This week’s meeting comes as a follow-up to last year’s Sagana Two meeting where the president asked the region to grant him the responsibility of giving political guidance ahead of this year’s meeting.

According to Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Muriithi, the Sagana Three meeting will be the platform to consult on the direction the region will take and whom they will support.

Uhuru Ruto fallout

“There should be room for regular consultation and this is a forum to consult on how we move forward together as a region,” Mr Muriithi said.

The Nation has also learned that this could be the culmination of the fallout between President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto with leaders keen to know what transpired between the two.

President Kenyatta recently said that he will soon spill the beans on what led to the fallout with his deputy and a section of leaders believe this will be the platform he reveals that.

“The president will explain to us the challenges and tribulations he has faced and why he things Raila is a better candidate. Definitely in the process he will explain to the people why he fell out with his deputy,” Mr Kega said.

Kikuyu Council of Elders (KCE) who have also been invited to the meeting have also said they are keen to know what led to the fallout between the president and his deputy. 

“Even in marriage there are problems that lead to divorce and one is expected to give reasons as to why the union failed. The same applies with the presidency. We will be keen to know what led to the rift and why the president has had a change of heart,” KCE chair Wachira Wa Kiago told the Nation.

Coming against a backdrop of accelerated allied campaigns for Mr Odinga by both ODM and Jubilee allies, the meeting is also expected to culminate in a decision and plan to hold joint campaigns that in 2017 were on opposing sides. 

Last week Jubilee Party had at least 10 activation meetings in the region ahead of this week’s National Delegates Conference that will coincide with that of ODM. The two are expected to form joint campaign strategies and some leaders want the president to take point on the same.

“This week will be a week of intense activities with the NDCs as we wait for the formalization of our participation in Azimio la Umoja and it is important that we sit and consult on the way forward,” Governor Muriithi said.

Grassroots mobilisation

At the same time, leaders will put it to the president to address incomplete projects as his terms nears conclusion. 

With only five months left to the end of his second term, the president is under pressure, particularly in the Mt Kenya Region, to give assurances on the projects that are yet to be completed.

Leaders say they want the president’s commitment to finishing key projects and a guarantee that the ones that will be pending will also be completed once he exits office.

“This is a very important agenda for us and we want to be assured of our projects. Those that can be finished, we want to see to it that they are finished before his term ends. Furthermore, the reason we want the president’s guidance is so that we are assured whomever he endorses will commit to finishing projects that will be incomplete by the end of the Jubilee term,” Mr Kega said. 

During his trip to Nyeri, the president is also expected to commission and inspect progress of some of the key projects in the region, among them the Mau Mau Roads and the Kenol- Marua dual carriageway. 

Mr Wambugu, the Nyeri Town MP, says that with NDC coming, they have to intensify grassroots mobilization which will cascade to rolling out an elaborate plan to counter forays made by Deputy President William Ruto’s UDA and other small parties in the region.

“Jubilee MPs have intensified grassroots party mobilisation ahead of next weekend’s NDC. Each meeting has brought together about 1,500 local leaders. By this weekend they will have done 21 meetings. They expect to do 33 before next weekend's NDC,” he said.

“The most important thing is to awaken the party cadres, which is happening as we speak. The threat of small parties came from the perception that Jubilee was done. Now and in the coming days, it’s clear Jubilee was ‘away at the office’,” added Mr Wambugu.

They are also forming regional and special Interest caucuses across the country in a bid to increase the presence of the party on the ground.

Ruto’s State House bid

“We are going back to the people to report the development of the Jubilee government,” said Kiambu MP Jude Njomo.

Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni said: “We have accepted that there are people who left us and let them choose their path and now we are explaining to Kenyans what we have done, how developments we have achieved can be continued by future regimes.”

Majority Leader in the National Assembly Amos Kimunya who is Kipipiri MP yesterday told the Nation that they have embarked on mobilization in their constituencies in Mount Kenya region before the Sagana III slated for Wednesday.

According to Mr Kimunya, they are on the ground to give direction the region is taking in regard to August polls noting that the narrative which has been sold within that Jubilee is dead happened because locals had not been given direction but now a lot of realignments are set to be witnessed.

“Our people have been waiting for a signal from the President on where we are going and now it has been given. Even some of those people who have been going that other direction have been doing so because of some sort of excitement,” he said.

He disclosed that after Sagana III and NDC, the party’s activation exercise will be in wards to ensure that they lockout other parties in the region and give the party majority seats in the next Parliament.

“The activity is currently going on in all constituencies and once all these are done, every place will have been painted red. After we go to Sagana then NDC and embark to the wards, things will have changed,” said Mr Kimunya.

Gatanga MP Joseph Nduati said they are preparing ground ahead of President Kenyatta’s visit where it is expected to have serious political tones which is likely to have serious ramifications on DP Ruto’s State House bid.

“Our purpose in these meetings is to tell our people that Jubilee is still alive contrary to what some people have been saying. We are on the ground preparing ahead of the President's visit,” he said.

Nicholas Komu, Irene Mugo and Onyango K’Onyango