Ruto has short-changed us, Meru MPs say amid talks with Ukambani counterparts

Kamba MPs

MPs from Kamba and Meru communities meet at Parliament Buildings in Nairobi, on December 6, 2023.

Photo credit: Pool

What you need to know:

  • MPs say Meru is keen to break away from the Mt Kenya political grouping and forge new alliances with the Kamba, Embu and Tharaka communities.
  • Merus who live on the eastern side of Mt Kenya are tired of being used in every election to propel their Kikuyu brothers to power.

  • The lawmaker said Meru was keen to break away from the Mount Kenya political grouping and forge new alliances with the Kamba, Embu and Tharaka communities.

Disquiet over an alleged raw deal within the ruling Kenya Kwanza coalition has prompted Meru MPs to reach out to their Ukambani counterparts to form an eastern political alliance.

In a move that points to political cracks in the Mount Kenya region, the 11 MPs from Meru County, most of whom were elected on the United Democratic Alliance ticket, approached their Kamba counterparts to form a political alliance to champion for common interests.

Through Buuri MP Mugambi Rindikiri, the chairperson of the Meru parliamentary caucus, the leaders reached out to elected Kamba leaders on Wednesday and agreed to revive political ties between the two communities.

Mr Rindikiri asked Kathiani MP Robert Mbui to convene MPs from Kitui, Machakos and Makueni counties to discuss a broad cross-party political caucus that would bring together leaders from different communities in the former Eastern Province.

According to Kitui Central MP Makali Mulu, who co-chaired the first meeting with Mr Rindikiri at Parliament Buildings, the two groups agreed to join political forces in lobbying for development projects in their region.

"We held our first meeting and resolved that going forward we will promote our existing trade and socio-economic relations to forge a stronger political caucus to lobby for improved development for our communities," Mr Mulu told Nation.Africa.

Mr Mulu said most infrastructure projects in the Ukambani region were of great economic importance to the Meru region and vice versa and it was in the best interest of leaders from both communities to work together to fast-track them.

Historical ties

He said the Kamba and Meru communities had strong historical ties cemented by decades of trade and intermarriage.

"The immediate major market for agricultural produce from the Meru region is Ukambani before it reaches Nairobi and Mombasa. We'll work together to strengthen our cooperation through parliament for the benefit of both our communities," said Mr Mulu.

Kibwezi West MP Mwengi Mutuse lauded the idea of forming an eastern political bloc, saying the caucus will be expanded to include leaders from Embu and Tharaka Nithi counties.

Mr Mutuse, who was elected on the Maendeleo Chap-Chap party ticket, said the new group transcends political party lines and seeks to revive the old political ties of independence heroes the late Paul Ngei and the late Jackson Angaine who worked very closely as cabinet ministers in the Jomo Kenyatta government and as respective leaders of the two communities.

"There's strength in numbers and the Meru leaders have shown the way. We have MPs elected in different parties including UDA, Jubilee, Nopeu and even Independent but they have come together and reached out to us Kambas for a broader caucus of several counties," said Mr Mutuse.

His comments were echoed by fellow Kamba MPs Charles Nguna (Mwingi West) and Mwalika Mboni (Kitui Rural), who said they would popularise the new alliance through joint public meetings.

In a show of solidarity, three Meru MPs represented their colleagues at the funeral of Kilome MP Thaddeus Nzambia's elder brother in Makueni on Friday.

However, the new alliance between Meru and Kamba leaders points to political cracks between the eastern and western sides of the Mount Kenya region.

The Nation has established that Meru leaders feel they were cheated in the Kenya Kwanza alliance despite being part of the huge Mount Kenya vote bloc that propelled President William Ruto to State House last year.

Tigania East MP Mpuru Aburi (Nopeu) declared that Merus, who live on the eastern side of Mt Kenya are tired of being used in every election to propel their Kikuyu brothers to power.

State appointments

Mr Aburi says Meru MPs have realised that not only have they been taken for a ride by President Ruto's government, but they were worse off than the Kambas in terms of state appointments and allocation of development resources.

"We feel short-changed and marginalised by this KK regime in all aspects including state appointments, so instead of living in denial, we decided to reach out to our neighbouring counties who are in a similar predicament and discuss future collaboration," said Mr Aburi.

The lawmaker said Meru was keen to break away from the Mount Kenya political grouping and forge new alliances with the Kamba, Embu and Tharaka communities.

"We've been lumped together as Mount Kenya for too long, but it doesn't benefit Meru. Why should we continue with such an association?" Mr Aburi asked, adding that it was time to join forces with those who valued them.

He said there was nothing for Merus to celebrate for voting overwhelmingly for President Ruto and that only through wider caucusing with other communities could regional interests be effectively negotiated.

The MP cited a recent report by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission, which found that Kalenjins and Kikuyus dominate top state appointments, as evidence that Meru hasn't benefited from being part of Mount Kenya.

Prof Gitile Naituli, a political analyst and lecturer, said the disquiet in Meru over Kenya Kwanza's raw deal was real and the only alternative was to work with the Kambas and support their son, Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka.

The don revealed that the Meru MPs were simply following their constituents who had expressed willingness to support Mr Musyoka in the 2027 presidential race.

"Two weeks ago, a delegation of Meru grassroots leaders, including the clergy, paid a courtesy call on the Wiper leader, so the issues that are coming out now have been troubling the region for several months and there have been a lot of political intrigues that culminated in the MPs forming the caucus," Prof Naituli said.

Imenti North MP Raheem Dawood downplayed the alleged political rift in Mount Kenya, saying the new caucus wasn't meant to oppose anyone in the region, but only to bargain for their interests.

"We have our own grievances as Meru, but reaching out to Kamba MPs doesn't mean we are breaking away from Kenya Kwanza yet, but our future lies in working with Kamba and other communities in the Eastern region," he said.