Rigathi Gachagua
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Rigathi Gachagua’s double-edged truth or dare political game

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Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua during the Maragua Education Endowment Fund fundraiser in Murang’a County on June 29, 2024.

Photo credit: DPCS

A self-proclaimed “truthful man”, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua appears to be holding a double-edged political sword he threatens to unleash on those opposed to him.

This week, the son of Mau Mau – as he often describes himself – stirred new controversy by saying what would ordinarily remain a secret in government circles.

Mr Gachagua sensationally claimed that top officials were reshuffled in the agency that has always operated in secrecy.

The Deputy President described the protesters, some of whom were killed by the police, as innocent young men and women who were airing their concerns about the Finance Bill, 2024, a position that contradicted President William Ruto, who labelled the demonstrators criminal elements on Tuesday evening.

Political analysts say Mr Gachagua is following in the footsteps of his boss, who wedged a war from within the government by siding with the masses while criticising then-president Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration.

In Murang’a County on Saturday, June 29, Mr Gachagua dared his critics to take him on, insisting that he has always been truthful and that Dr Ruto settled on him as his running mate in 2022 because of that.

“When he picked me as his running mate, he made a speech that defined me as truthful and passionate about people issues. Truth will never be taken away from me. At 59, it is too late to start telling me to become a liar, a sycophant and inclined to praise and worship for no good reason,” Mr Gachagua said.

When he dropped the NIS “bombshell”, Mr Gachagua suggested that he got into trouble with the government for speaking the truth.

He added that some top government officials started isolating him for it.

Bragging rights

“Come slowly, respect us, you have found us here and you have no bragging rights while in this government. We are going nowhere, learn to live with us even if you don’t like us. Our region and language have full entitlement,” Mr Gachagua said at Kaharati Primary School in Maragua yesterday, apparently quoting some top officials in the Kenya Kwanza government.

It was during an education endowment fundraiser for pupils from poor backgrounds.

President Ruto sent Sh1 million, Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki Sh400,000 while Mr Gachagua gave Sh2 million.

The DP is on record saying that his Mt Kenya home turf was misled to demonise Mr Kenyatta. He has apologised publicly, saying he would reach out to the former president.

In a press statement from his Mombasa residence on Wednesday, the day President Ruto withdrew the tax bill, Mr Gachagua talked of a scheme to link him and Mr Kenyatta to the chaos witnessed during the protests.

Some of President Ruto’s allies, including Public Service Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria, have attempted to link him to the anti-tax demonstrations witnessed in Mt Kenya.

“I have differences of opinion and style with my friend Uhuru Kenyatta. But for all the years I have known him, he has never sponsored violence unlike your fake DO Dimwit Kingpin who burnt Nyeri, Embu, Thika and Kikuyu Township,” claimed Mr Kuria, without providing evidence.

Before teaming up with Dr Ruto, Mr Gachagua was a strong supporter of Mr Kenyatta, whom he also worked for as a personal assistant.

Mr Gachagua,then-Mathira MP, was among the many lawmakers from Mt Kenya who abandoned Mr Kenyatta and opted to follow Dr Ruto to the United Democratic Alliance (UDA).

He blamed the then-president for his tribulations, saying they were meant to intimidate him into abandoning his political beliefs.

Lost popularity

His allies say there is a scheme by President Ruto to sideline him in the government.

Mr Gachagua says the current government has lost popularity for failing to listen to ordinary Kenyans.

He accuses some MPs from the region of betrayal for opposing his call for Mt Kenya unity.

“We were elected the other day. President Ruto and I were the darling of the people. How did we get here? When did the rain start beating us?” asked Mr Gachagua in the Mombasa presser.

“My boss...is exposed. He has backed down and admitted that he has hurt the people of Kenya. Yet this matter has been in the public domain for the last two months. The decision by our President to withdraw the Finance Bill after listening to the people is a new beginning that should nurture the culture of consultation and engagement.”

Mr Gachagua says the government officials’ stomachs are so full that they no longer think about the people who put them in power.

“I urge those of us in government...should not to vomit on our people. Stop arrogance and pride and address the electorate with decorum and humility. Remember the voter is the boss,” he said.

Mr Gachagua recently said he had even been stopped from using Kenya Defence Forces aircraft.

When he arrived after his boss during an Akorino event in Nakuru, Mr Gachagua opened up about his frustrations.

“You know I am very disciplined. I am a former uniformed services member and in your government,” he said while apologising.

“I had challenges with transport arrangements and then came the weather. I left late and got stuck in traffic between Naivasha and Longonot for more than two hours.”

Early in the month, top government officials, including CSs accused him of engaging ethnic mobilisation for political survival.

Some UDA leaders in Mt Kenya joined the chorus, but he dared them to come speak with the people “instead of accusing me while in other regions”.

Populist pronouncements

Mr Kuria has challenged the DP’s “truth”, branding a liar out to make populist pronouncements.

Mr Kuria said Mr Gachagua was in the team that came up with some of the unpopular tax measures that have been rejected by Kenyans.

“The committee meeting that endorsed the original Finance Bill, which included VAT for milk and bread, was chaired by the Deputy President. What a lying, dishonourable man!” Kuria said.

Former Borabu MP, Bernard Momanyi, says Mr Gachagua has realised that Mt Kenya is shifting from Dr Ruto “and has opted to follow the people”.

“Gachagua seems to be following the people as opposed to other leaders who want the people to follow them even when they are heading in the wrong direction,” Mr Momanyi said.

Prof David Monda, a political analyst and university lecturer, says the DP has put the President in an awkward position.

“Not only is it bad strategy, because he is the President’s principal assistant and confidant, but also because it adds to the problems the President has to assess with the ongoing Gen Z demonstrations,” Prof Monda said.

“The DP also makes the government appear weak and disjointed. These utterances confirm a divided house. Mr Gachagua is bound to lose.”

According to the don, the strategy would not endear Mr Gachagua to his Mt Kenya constituency base.

“The region is very upset following the extra-judicial killings in Githurai and elsewhere by police. The Mountain is upset with the perception that the government is frustrating and constraining businesses run by its sons and daughters while DP continues to stand by Dr Ruto.”

Additional reporting by Mwangi Muiruri