President William Ruto returns to restive Mount Kenya region

Ruto in Nyeri

President William Ruto addresses wananchi in Nyeri town moments after opening UDA regional office in the town on September 9, 2023. 

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

President William Ruto is expected to visit Murang’a, Nyeri and Kiambu counties on Wednesday and Thursday amid economic and political rumblings in the region.

A key region in his 2022 election win and his 2027 quest for a second term, political pundits see the visit as a reaction to the raging discontent.

State House released an advance schedule indicating that he will visit Lari, Gatanga, Kangema, Mathioya and Othaya sub-counties to address issues of domestic and irrigation water, blocked roads and establishment of Kenya Medical Training College campuses among others.

On Saturday, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua visited Kigumo sub-county in Murang'a where he and Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro agreed to unite and end the power tussle.

On Saturday, Mr Gachagua said “the President wants to visit a region that is united under one command centre, devoid of divisions and focused on the development agenda”.

Mr Nyoro on Monday told the Nation that “people have been reading too much politics into normal events”.

Some of the issues the Nation has picked in the ongoing grassroots debates include the Sh6 billion coffee debt and the drop in returns from the agricultural sector. Nyeri Senator Wahome Wamatinga recently said that “we want the (coffee farmers’) debt waived”.

The area, which has recently stepped up calls for the formation of an independent political party ahead of 2027, also wants security committees to address the issue of cattle and crop theft.

Kandara Residents Association chairman Kibiru Kamau said the issue of the Del Monte land that is supposed to be ceded to residents and county governments needs to be clarified.

“We want to know the exact area to be ceded, when it will be handed over to the residents as per the aspirations of law and justice for historical oppression, not forgetting the disclosure of how the county lands will be used,” he said.

The Parliamentary Committee on Land has since endorsed the recommendation of the association, which submitted 1,930 names of proposed beneficiaries from Gatanga, Kandara and Maragua.

While Murang’a Governor Irungu Kang’ata has publicly stated that his county received only 1,400 acres on which he intends to build a new level five hospital, the parliamentary committee report states that the county received 4,843 acres. His Kiambu counterpart Kimani Wamatangi has said that Del Monte only ceded 600 acres, but the report released on October 5, 2023 states that the devolved unit received 2,696 acres.

Property titling is another hot potato in the region, with Central Region Property Dealers Association chairman Geoffrey Miano saying criminal gangs have held the sector hostage.

“We want the President to address the issue of cartels that have even senior security officers as actors and who together with brokers have ensured that communal ranches and most private lands are mired in conflicts so that they are available for grabbing,” he said.

The chairman of the Kikuyu Council of Elders Wachira Kiago said the President should be made aware of the “senseless crackdown on the perceived regrouping of the Mungiki sect”. He said that on December 31, 2023, 23 elders were arrested at the Mukurwe wa Nyagathanga shrine while participating in a cultural activity and “we’re being branded as Mungiki”.

“We want this senseless community profiling of our youths and elders to stop on the order of the President,” Mr Kiago said.