Ruto and Mudavadi

DP William Ruto’s deal with ANC boss Musalia Mudavadi has rattled the vote-rich Mt Kenya region.

| Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

Deal between Ruto, Mudavadi rattles vote-rich Mt Kenya

Deputy President William Ruto’s deal with Amani National Congress (ANC) boss Musalia Mudavadi has rattled the vote-rich Mt Kenya region.

The decision to embrace ANC and Mr Moses Wetang’ula’s Ford Kenya without asking the two political parties to fold up and join the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) puts the DP in a precarious position just months to the August 9, General Election.

Coming after the DP maintained for months that he would not work with other political parties in the Mt Kenya region unless they joined his UDA, the deal announced during the ANC National Delegates Convention on Sunday has sparked claims of double standards in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s restive backyard.

Running mate

The Nation also understands that the search for the DP’s running mate has narrowed to Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua and his Kandara counterpart Alice Wahome.

Pressure has been piling on Dr Ruto, with his supporters in the Mountain region prevailing on him to unveil his choice of deputy at an event scheduled to take place at Mumbi stadium, Murang’a County, on February 6.

According to a source within UDA, the pressure to name Dr Ruto’s running mate stems from fears that Mr Mudavadi may be offered the Number Two position in UDA, which speculation ANC operatives have dismissed.

“After the DP announced his partnership with Mr Mudavadi, our people are wondering if they are going to be short-changed. That is why the DP might be forced to unveil his running mate early next month,” said the lawmaker who did not want to be named.

Alice Wahome

He went ahead: “Talks are in top gear for the running mate’s slot. As of now, it is either Alice or Gachagua. Also being mentioned are Tharaka Nithi Senator Prof Kindiki Kithure and his Meru counterpart Mithika Linturi, due to a number of factors. Alice might be picked because we want to counter ODM boss Raila Odinga, who is likely to pick Peter Kenneth from Murang'a as his deputy.”

The Nation contacted Ms Wahome about the matter.

“I am not aware but let’s wait and see. It would be a good thing,” she said.

Mr Gachagua said their focus was on economic revival and not positions.

“We are busy building our party and selling our bottom-up economic model. We are not very keen on positions for now,” he said.

Murang'a Senator Irungu Kang'ata said he was aware that talks were ongoing but did not know when Dr Ruto would unveil his running mate.

"Talks are ongoing pertaining to Dr Ruto's running mate and I only know of the Mumbi stadium meeting in Murang'a. When the person will be unveiled, I do not know," he told the Nation.

‘Tribal parties’

Although the DP has been insisting that he has never asked those willing to support his State House bid to fold up their parties, he keeps on branding such outfits as ‘tribal parties’.

His key lieutenants have also maintained that political parties from President Kenyatta’s Central Kenya backyard were still in their nascent stages and should not demand to be seen as coalition partners. 

Critics outside the Hustler Nation said the deal with ANC was clear evidence that Dr Ruto does not have the region’s interests at heart, citing his refusal to work with Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria’s Chama Cha Kazi (CCK) and former Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri’s The Service Party (TSP).

‘Hypocrisy’

Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu Tuesday accused the DP of hypocrisy.

“You tell Mount Kenya to fold their parties but welcome other regions to work with you through their parties,” said Mr Wambugu.

Kirinyaga Woman Representative Purity Ngirici, who has since defected from the Tangatanga camp, alleged that the entry of Mr Mudavadi and his Ford Kenya counterpart Moses Wetang’ula was a scheme to push the pioneers of UDA to the periphery.

“One thing I like about Musalia Mudavadi is that he came with the ANC and not his stomach. Very soon, those who call the shots shall be at the window when the dinner is served,” she posted on Facebook.

Despite the risks involved, during the UDA Parliamentary Group meeting on Monday, the DP went ahead with his dismissal of small parties, describing them as tribal parties sponsored to divide Kenyans.

“We agreed on the need to come together and stop the balkanisation of the country along tribal lines by ODM, which is no longer confident of itself and has decided to camouflage itself in different tribal parties,” said DP Ruto.

Politics of deceit

Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui, who is leaning towards Azimio la Umoja, accused Dr Ruto of practising politics of deceit.

“When people from Mount Kenya come to their parties to join the yellow team, they are asked to fold up their parties. They are labelled tribal units, village parties and non-entities,” said Governor Kinyanjui.

“When leaders from other parts of the country join the yellow team in their parties, they are labelled principals and ushered to the high table. Surely, they claim we are all equal but as we have seen, others are more equal. The greatest freedom is the freedom from self-deceit,” he added.

Mr Gachagua, an ally of the DP from Mount Kenya, Tuesday told the Nation that parties from the region had not been asked to fold up in order to work with UDA, adding that their strength would have to be defined.

“We have never asked any party to fold up. Let those who want to engage us come forward. Our engagement will be guided by their strength preferably outside the mountain since the Mount Kenya region is already 100 per cent UDA,” said Mr Gachagua.

Partnership still open

UDA chairman Johnson Muthama said the UDA-ANC-Ford Kenya partnership was still open, adding that they were still reaching out to others before depositing a coalition agreement with the Registrar of Political Parties.

“We still have enough time. We are still going to talk to Kenyans who have agreed that we should have a united country join us,” he said.

The DP has been walking a tightrope as he seeks to woo the Western region without losing his grip on the Central region.

Mr Kenya supporters of Dr Ruto allies have insisted that the position of running mate is theirs and that it is non-negotiable.

Made right move

Lieutenants of the ANC boss, for their part, said they made the right move and that they were preparing to visit their political bastions to mollify them.

“We are looking at this root as where all Kenyans will benefit. Musalia is not hungry for a position. When he was nominated in 2002, he declined. In 2017, he shelved his ambitions to be a campaign manager. He can just choose to be Ruto’s campaign manager as long as the government shall deliver to the people of Kenya,” said ANC national chairman Kelvin Lunani.

Former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale, another ally of the DP, said they would give him (Dr Ruto) ample time to choose his running mate instead of complicating the matter.

“We shall make it easy for William Ruto to make a decision on his own on the running mate,” said Mr Khalwale.

Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali told the Nation that there was a need for the DP to find a way of working with Mr Mudavadi without losing sight of the Mount Kenya region.

Null and void

“Until we find a formula to carry the Central region on board, all these other things are null and void. We must find a way of keeping Central intact and you cannot keep the region intact without an offer. We may not have a kingpin from that region as we speak but if there is nothing on the table to take home, it can weaken them in the process,” said Mr Washiali.

Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa, another ally of the DP, said the decision of who will deputise Dr Ruto was not personal.

“Unlike what happens in other parties, the people will directly and or indirectly participate in identifying such a candidate. All leaders from Mt Kenya stand a chance. The DP himself may not have outright power to decide who his running mate will be, largely because he believes in the voters' powers, party structures and organs,” Mr Barasa explained.


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