Peace and unity my priority Uhuru tells Gusii delegation

President Kenyatta chairs a Cabinet meeting at State House, Nairobi, on October 8, 2020. Deputy President William Ruto (second right) was in attendance.

Photo credit: PSCU

What you need to know:

  • The Head of State accused politicians of balkanising Kenyan youth using the narrative of haves and have-nots.
  • The leaders at State House castigated the actions of the Deputy President, accusing Dr Ruto of undermining the President.

My legacy is the Handshake, President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Thursday evening at State House, Nairobi, where he hosted dozens of Gusii leaders.

In that regard, the President said he is ready to launch the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report, noting that uniting the country is what he wants to be remembered for long after he leaves office.

Saying he would be “very proud if we met our development agenda”, President Kenyatta noted that it was uniting “this country through the Handshake” that now occupies him, and for which he would be most proud.

However, those who attended the meeting told the Saturday Nation that the President said he had not yet received a final copy of the eagerly-awaited BBI report.

Good job

“I spoke to the taskforce chairman, Senator Yusuf Haji, who told me that Covid-19 delayed their meetings. But I am sure that they have done a good job. Once they bring the report, we will launch it. Bringing the country together is the unity which I envision for this country — and that is the legacy I want for myself,” the President said.

The Head of State revealed that he decided to shake hands with his political rival, ODM leader Raila Odinga, after discovering that even with development, the country was in a greater risk as a result of political animosity.

Six-hour meeting

The six-hour meeting, curiously happening on the day Deputy President William Ruto’s fundraising meeting was disrupted by police in Nyamira, featured 67 politicians and professionals from Gusiiland.

The police teargassed those who converged at Kebirigo, saying they had no permit for the meeting in line with the security guidelines spelt out by the National Security Advisory Council on Wednesday.

The Head of State, according to those present in the Thursday meeting, accused politicians of balkanising Kenyan youth using the narrative of haves and have-nots.

“Sasa hizi vitu wanaambia watu wakishindwa kufanya, hii nchi itakuwa vipi? (What will happen if they don’t keep the promises they are giving the youth)?” the President is quoted as saying.

The entourage from the Gusii region was led by Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, who is seen to have taken over the DP’s duties in Cabinet, and who is increasingly being touted as a possible Uhuru successor, although he has not publicly declared interest in the job. Health CS Mutahi Kagwe and his Infrastructure counterpart James Macharia also attended the meeting.

President Kenyatta was in good spirits and interspersed his address with wry observations about the obtaining political climate, saying he was initially ready to pass the baton to his “friend” only to find that the person to receive the baton had run off.

“Badala angojee kijiti, jamaa aligeuka akaanza kukimbia kwenda nyuma (Instead of him waiting for the baton, the guy turned and ran back),” the President said, accusing those conducting early political campaigns of affecting the Jubilee government’s development agenda.

“Hii kiti inakaliwa na mtu mmoja (This seat can only be occupied by one person),” the President is quoted as saying.

Friday’s meeting in Nyamira would have been the DP’s third in the region, which he considers fertile vote-hunting ground. Another meeting scheduled for Kisii yesterday was called off while the aborted Nyamira fundraiser is scheduled for next Thursday.

The leaders at State House castigated the actions of the Deputy President, accusing Dr Ruto of undermining the President.

“Mr President, although you are a good person, your deputy has crossed the line. He needs to be reprimanded,” Nyamira Governor John Nyagarama warned.

Kisii Senator Sam Ongeri said: “We will not allow the DP to use the Gusii region as the testing ground in dividing the country. He has to be restrained.”

Exemplary leadership 

Senior government officials from the Gusii community who attended were Dr Matiang’i (Interior CS), Susan Mochache (Health PS), Enosh Momanyi (PS Physical Planning), Maureen Mbaka (CAS for ICT and Youth), Margaret Nyakang’o (Controller of Budget), Kennedy Ogeto (Solicitor-General), Moses Nyakiongora (Secretary for Public Buildings and Dwelling Inspectorate), Florence Omundi (Prisons Deputy Commissioner-General) and Francis Anyona (Director of Budget in the National Treasury).

There were also CEOs of various state agencies, among them Victor Okioma of the National Authority for Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (Nacada) and Pavel Oimeke of the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority.

Sources said the meeting heaped praises on Dr Matiang’i for his performance in government. “Your son is our leader in the Cabinet and has shown exemplary leadership qualities,” CS Kagwe said and called on the Gusii community to unite and rally behind the Interior CS, who is “only implementing what we as the government and the Cabinet have agreed upon”.

The leaders endorsed Dr Matiang’i as their spokesperson. Gusii Council of Elders Chairperson James Matundura told Mr Kenyatta that any communication from the Gusii would only come from Dr Matiang’i, while Borabu MP Ben Momanyi told the President that Matiang’i was ripe to be supported for a national leadership position.

“He has performed his duties well. We are ready to support him for any political seat,” MP Momanyi said. During his speech, the President said that talk about supporting Matiang’i was “one in the right direction”.

Mr Macharia was put on the spot over a number of unfinished road projects in the Gusii region, some of which the President confessed to have promised residents during the last campaign.

The Roads CS told the meeting that officers from his ministry, Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA), Kenya Urban Roads Authority (Kura) and Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KeRRA) would compile a status report and advise him.   

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