The Service Party leader Mwangi Kiunjuri, a principal in the Kenya Kwanza alliance whose presidential candidate is Deputy President Dr William Ruto, has accused the DP's running mate Rigathi Gachagua of promoting conflict among affiliate parties.
Mr Kiunjuri accused him of “creating an impression that we have already arrived at the winning table even before the election has been held … and we should take caution that we can easily lose this election,” he said.
Speaking on Inooro TV, he said that “let us cover up for each other, friendly fire kills and as we fight, we are killing ourselves”. He said that “the operation and engagement mode in Kenya Kwanza should be to choose the best amongst our aspirants … even if my TSP candidate is weaker, go for the stronger [candidate in Kenya Kwanza]”.
Suggesting that Mr Gachagua is playing more of a rabble-rouser than a pacifier in Kenya Kwanza, Mr Kiunjuri warned him that “a cow can miscarry as the owner watches waiting for a calf, a season can go bad even after it looked promising and a hunter can see a bird he just caught and whose feathers he plucked go ahead and fly away.”
He cautioned that “we are carrying ourselves like hunters who get into a conflict while in the bush and with no game plan”.
“Chama Cha Kazi leader Moses Kuria, Tujibebe Party leader William Kabogo … Amani National Congress’ (ANC) Musalia Mudavadi, Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula and I are principals,” he said.
“Our agreement indicates that we all enjoy equal rights and status in Kenya Kwanza … That includes Deputy President Dr William Ruto, who is the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party leader. Mr Gachagua should … respect the equal rights of other principals,” he said.
He was reacting to a recent public conflict between Kiambu governor aspirants Kimani Wamatangi (UDA) and William Kabogo, resulting in a shouting match.
The spat that prompted Mr Kabogo and Mr Kuria to withdraw from UDA public rallies in protest was said to be Mr Gachagua’s insistence that only the party’s candidates should be elected.
So incensed was Mr Kabogo that he dismissed Mr Gachagua as “a dictator who means nothing but doom for Kenyan Kwanza even with the full knowledge that he was not our unanimous choice for the running mate slot. I personally opposed him and he does not qualify to be a president in waiting”.
Mr Kiunjuri said that denying other principals a chance to speak at public rallies was breeding conflict and bad blood to the point that “there is discontent among the principals”.
Mr Kiunjuri, who wants the Laikipia East parliamentary seat, said “it is true that he is pushing others to the extreme”.
He warned that the Mt Kenya region could see voters reject Kenya Kwanza because of the emerging differences “and some of us in this alliance should know that igniting anger in others is a danger and should we reach boiling point, it is a sure way of losing it”.
Mr Kiunjuri also warned that if the aggrieved principals decide to leave the alliance, some voters could follow suit.
He said there is an urgent need for Kenya Kwanza to put its house in order, discuss the escalating differences and reach an amicable solution considering that it is tricky for a presidential candidate to win the required 50 percent plus one vote.
“In 2013, President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared winner by gaining only 8,000 votes above the threshold,” he said.
“In 2017, he improved to 130,000. If Kabogo leaves with 50,000 votes, Kuria follows suit with equal numbers and I also ship out with the same figures [that would reduce the number of votes for Dr Ruto] … This is an election like no other … it is the toughest of all we have held so far and every vote counts.”
He said this means that all Kenya Kwanza principals need to respect each other, pull together and cease petty engagements that might threaten the common agenda of winning the contests.
In earlier interviews, Dr Ruto and UDA secretary-general Veronica Maina said they were building a national party that would contest all seats without “zoning”, a position that has fuelled sibling rivalry that threatens to tear it apart in key regions.