Rigathi, Mudavadi silent war exposed in DP’s clash with Sakaja on city affairs

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua (left), President Dr William Ruto and Prime Cabinet Secretary nominee Musalia Mudavadi

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua (left), President Dr William Ruto and Prime Cabinet Secretary nominee Musalia Mudavadi at State House in Nairobi on September 27, 2022.

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

The recent utterances by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua directed at Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja for allegedly persecuting businesspeople from Mt Kenya have now turned out to be the point of a clash between Central and Western regions.  

It is also seen as part of the bad blood between Mr Gachagua and Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi, escalating a sour relationship between the political honchos, that started when President William Ruto was searching for his running mate early last year.

On December 19, 2022, the DP said: “We do not want his high speed [in making decisions] and I have summoned him for a sitting...It is a no for any of his decisions that might have a negative effect on our people.
“We made you governor and we are vigilant on our interests.
“We must get involved in decisions that have an effect on our people.”

And now, this battle for Nairobi is exposing the silent rift between the country’s second in command and Mr Mudavadi as leaders from Mt Kenya and Western regions exchanged bitterly in public. Political pundits are of the view that the war of words between legislators from the two regions is fuelled by the rift between Mr Gachagua and the former Vice President who are embroiled in a fight to attract Dr Ruto’s attention.

“With their offices, their ambitions have been reignited because Rigathi sees that he is not far from being president, heir to the throne, while Musalia now sees that he has a chance of being president perhaps in 2027 or 2032. They will want to use their positions to rebrand and redeem themselves," Prof Masibo Lumala of Moi University said.

Yesterday, Mr Sakaja was conspicuous during a visit to Galana Kulalu by Dr Ruto. Coast governors Abdulswamad Nassir (Mombasa), Gideon Mung’aro (Kilifi) and Issa Timmay (Lamu) were also present.

Sharp criticism

The remarks by the DP attracted sharp criticism from lawmakers from the Western region who have asked him to keep off the affairs of Nairobi. Their Mt Kenya counterparts have come out guns blazing to defend Mr Gachagua, saying he has a right to defend the community.

This has led to a war of words between leaders from both regions, with some MPs from Western threatening to impeach Mr Gachagua in case he fails to desist from “meddling” in Nairobi affairs.

Bumula MP Jack Wamboka, who was elected on the Democratic Action Party of Kenya yesterday told the Nation that immediately after MPs resume from recess on February 13, he would give notice of an impeachment motion. “I have collected requisite signatures and immediately we resume next month, I will give the notice of the impeachment motion. I have not been sent by anyone. We cannot have a leader who is disenfranchising all Kenyans. Musalia is behaving better than the DP,” said Mr Wamboka.

“Every time Gachagua opens his mouth, you wonder whether he is the Deputy President [of Kenya] or he is the Deputy President of the Kikuyu republic. In fact, at some point, I will bring a motion in Parliament to discuss his conduct and impeach him because he is becoming a very big embarrassment to this country.”

Lugari MP Nabii Nabwera also faulted the DP and asked him to let Mr Sakaja deliver on his promises to the people of Nairobi. “Sakaja was elected to an office by the people of Nairobi; they expect much from him; therefore, the DP should present his manifesto to the people of Nairobi.”  

Mt Kenya leaders have, however, told off their Western counterparts for the impeachment threats.
“If they cannot unite their region to vote as a bloc, how will they marshal support to impeach the Deputy President? For their information, Sakaja is impeachable and he is working with our opponents,” said Mathira MP Eric Wamumbi, who succeeded the DP in the post.


According to Mr Wamumbi, Western leaders disrespect Mr Gachagua and they will not sit back and watch as “our leader” is being insulted.

“Basically, there is no issue between Mt Kenya and Western, but what we have seen is MPs from Western disrespecting our leader and they should desist from that. As the Deputy President, he is the leader of the Kikuyu community. Therefore, when he feels that our people are threatened, he has to speak about it just the way Mudavadi can speak on the behalf of Western people,” said the Mathira MP.

“Yes, the Deputy President is a national leader, but he also has a place where he comes from. Sakaja must respect the Deputy President because as a community, we had our own Polycarp Igathe but the Deputy President spoke to us to vote for the current government. Therefore, he must stop threatening our people.”

The first-term MP wondered why when DP Gachagua protects the Kikuyu community, it is being viewed as ethnocentrism while he does not see the same noise when Mr Mudavadi rallies the Western leaders to work with the current administration.

“We saw the President go to his backyard to buy goats, no one said it was tribal…then Mudavadi has been rallying leaders from his region, including Cotu (Central Organisation of Trade Union) boss Francis Atwoli, to the President, but it wasn’t tribal. When the DP rallies his community, it is viewed as tribalism, why?” Kangema MP Peter Kihungi said DP Gachagua did not err by defending businesspeople, arguing that the matter should not be politicised.

“They must understand that Gachagua was on the frontline defending the businessmen of Nairobi, mostly those of Nyamakima. Sakaja is our UDA governor and we want to urge him to protect our business,” said Mr Kihungi in an interview.

Nyeri Senator Wahome Wamatinga, another ally of the DP, while speaking in his county over the weekend, said they would not allow anybody to disrespect their political leader.

“We have said that Rigathi Gachagua has to be given respect. He is the Deputy President of Kenya. If you play, we will impeach you. Rigathi Gachagua spoke to us to elect you, don't play with us, Kikuyus. No one can sell fear to us. If you did not study with Uhuru Kenyatta, you will study with Rigathi. When he was being arrested, when his accounts were being frozen, you were not talking... you can't bring nonsense to us when we have leadership on the table,” said Mr Wamatinga.

Maragua MP Mary Wamaua, while on the by-election campaign trail in Kandara, said: “He (Sakaja) should remember that Rigathi he is trying to disrespect is the one who asked the Kikuyu in Nairobi to vote for him. We are fully behind Gachagua as the Deputy President and do not want anyone to disrespect him because he is the leader of the Mt Kenya region.”

Denied rift

Amani National Congress secretary general Simon Kamua yesterday said there is no rift between Mr Gachagua and Mr Mudavadi and urged Kenya Kwanza leaders to focus on service delivery. “Most of our politicians would want to thrive on chaos. We cannot afford to be divisive when it is time for delivering and we are barely 100 days in office. We need unity and not harsh exchanges; we can thrive in building the nation.”

When Dr Ruto was unveiling Mr Gachagua as his running mate in May 2022, Githunguri MP Gathoni Wamuchomba said he emerged the best because he demonstrated his understanding of the bottom-up economic model and resonated with businesspeople from Mount Kenya.

Mr Atwoli also waded into the matter, asking leaders to support Mr Sakaja. “Nairobi must be an international city just like other cities across the world. We must bring sanity in our city and support the government and Governor Sakaja to have organised public transport,” he said.