Rigathi Gachagua, the brash Kenya Kwanza deputy who takes no prisoners

Rigathi Gachagua
Photo credit: John Nyaga | Nation Media Group

Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua has fashioned himself as a vocal politician with a fierce tongue and a lethal sting to boot.

He is only a first-term lawmaker, but Mr Gachagua is building a reputation of taking no prisoners, with no regard to one’s profile. President Uhuru Kenyatta knows this better, as he has been a recipient of the sharp tongue lashings.

The self-proclaimed son of a former Mau Mau freedom fighter, who is 57-year-old, has an uncanny knack for stirring the hornets’ nest and showing little remorse.

The unrepentant devotee of Deputy President William Ruto’s bottom-up economic model and his running mate designate in the August 9 General Election last week stirred controversy by saying that if the duo assume power, their focus will be on growing small businesspeople who are the majority instead of having one giant company, giving the example of Safaricom.

This, the barefaced said, is the true definition of the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) economic model as they “would rather have money invested in many small businesspeople who will pay 30 times the amount of tax put together”.

“We are not discouraging investors but championing the interests of the small businesses,” he said.

Barely days after being named Dr Ruto’s running mate, the MP said his Mathira constituents will be content with him cooking them rice and meat at Sagana State Lodge.

“Any time you come to the State Lodge, open the door, prepare rice and meat for our people to eat, just that. Is there anything more you want?” he posed.

The statement at his step brother’s burial rubbed some people the wrong way, as it evoked feelings that his constituents are only seeking a plate of “mchele and nyama” from the government.

That is not all from the former District Officer. In December last year, the MP used derogatory words on Kieni MP Kanini Kega, for supporting Raila Odinga.

Instead of calling his fellow legislator by his right name, he called him Kanini “Koru”, going ahead to liken him to an individual who would do anything like a lapdog to please Mr Odinga.

One to never shy away from expressing his mind, in January 2021, he referred to Cotu boss Francis Atwoli as “mzee nyingine amevaa nyororo anaitwa Atwoli” loosely translating to a chained man.

Facing a graft case and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) having filed an application to freeze some of his bank accounts, he described the situation as a small hiccup, “a flu that will soon be gone”.

Mr Gachagua has been the leader of rebel Mt Kenya politicians who defied Jubilee party leader President Kenyatta, transforming into DP Ruto’s radical soldier of sorts.

Daring the President repeatedly, he said the Head of State had reduced himself from President to the manager of the Raila Odinga campaign team, and would be addressed in that capacity going forward.

“We have avoided for a long time to respond to the President, unfortunately he has dragged himself into the mud and campaign is muddy and he will be muddied. Anything he says will be answered immediately,” he threw down the gauntlet.

Ever since, there has been no love lost between Mr Gachagua and his one-time close friend whom he worked with as his aide for more than six years.

“Go to places where money has been stolen and charge those people. Don’t just talk. You are the President,” he told Mr Kenyatta once when he complained of endemic corruption in his government.

The former provincial administrator never disappoints, when in his true element. He likened the search for DP Ruto’s running mate as ‘a hunt for a wife.’

He said there was no voting to determine who will be Dr Ruto’s “wife” between him and Tharaka-Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki, who was his close competitor for the position.

“There was no voting to decide DP Ruto’s running mate. People cannot cast votes in order for you to get a wife because in the end, you are the one to live with her,” he said.


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