Ruto woos Ukambani as Mutua entry causes jitters in region

William Ruto

Deputy President William Ruto addressing locals at Tala Market in Machakos County on May 10, 2021.

Photo credit: DPPS

Deputy President William Ruto on Tuesday renewed his efforts to flip the Ukambani region from the grip of Azimio leader Raila Odinga, even as the entry of Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua into the Kenya Kwanza fold sparked jitters in the region.

Dr Mutua ditched Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party on Monday, citing a plan by Mr Odinga to stifle his democratic rights ahead of the August 9 General Election.

On Tuesday, the two-term governor hosted Dr Ruto and a delegation of Kenya Kwanza at Tala township in Machakos County.

He explained his move and campaigned for Dr Ruto’s presidential bid.

Dr Ruto was accompanied by Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi and his Ford-Kenya counterpart Moses Wetang’ula, and Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua. 

They promoted the “bottom-up” economic approach, which is at the centre of Dr Ruto’s presidential campaign.

As his allies strongly criticised the ODM leader for “ridiculing and humiliating” Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka by taking him through an interview for the Azimio running mate position, Dr Ruto rallied the Kamba community to ditch Mr Odinga’s camp, which he portrayed as deceitful and ill-fated.

“When a leader can con and lie to fellow leaders, it means he can be worse to the electorate,” he said, adding that the Azimio presidential candidate was too old to lead the country.

“We have agreed that in August we shall put the old man into a wheelbarrow and deliver him to Bondo to rest,” he said.

At the 2017 elections, Mr Odinga, who had Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka as his running mate, got 968,437 votes from Machakos, Makueni and Kitui counties, compared to the President Uhuru Kenyatta/DP William Ruto ticket, which got 174,579 votes.                      

Dr Ruto has since won over former Machakos Senator Johnson Muthama and other MPs from the region, including Victor Munyaka (Machakos Town), and Vincent Musyoka (Mwala).

The Maendeleo Chap Chap Party leader said the move he had taken was strategic for the region as it would ensure that the dominant Kamba community is part of the next government.

“We should not put all our eggs in one basket. If those in the other camps will win the presidency we shall benefit as a community. And when the Kenya Kwanza team wins the presidency we shall also benefit. I shall remain in Dr Ruto’s camp, which will win the August polls,” Dr Mutua said on the day a faction of Dr Ruto’s allies led by Mr Muthama, who is now the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) chairman snubbed the rally.

Mr Muthama and a section of Dr Ruto’s allies kept off the rally in Tala, for what the Nation understood was a protest at Dr Mutua’s arrival into Kenya Kwanza.

Instead, the team of Dr Ruto’s allies, led by Mr Moses Banda, the coordinator of the DP’s presidential campaign in Kitui, Machakos and Makueni counties, met at one of Mr Muthama’s homes on the outskirts of Machakos town.

“We are telling those who are joining us that we have a structure, which they must follow to the letter. Dr Ruto’s campaign in this region is headed by Mr Muthama,” Mr Banda said, echoing Dr Munyaka. Although Dr Mutua is now on our side, we have to tell him the truth; he has mismanaged Machakos County government. He should sanitise himself by doing a forensic audit on his administration and boosting service delivery in the county in the remaining months, before he joins Kenya Kwanza,” the MP told reporters on Monday. 

At the core of the jitters is uncertainty over the coordination of Dr Ruto’s campaigns in the region, considering that both UDA and Maendeleo Chap Chap have already nominated candidates. Mr Muthama is gunning to succeed Dr Mutua. His challengers include Dr Mutua’s deputy, Mr Francis Maliti. At the same time, Dr Munyaka is facing stiff competition from Mr Caleb Mutiso of Maendeleo Chap Chap. Former Sports Kenya board chairman Fred Muteti who is also part of the team coordinating UDA campaigns in the region said talks were under way to have some of the candidates step down.

Aware of Mr Muthama’s displeasure, and its potential to rock his campaign, Dr Ruto endorsed Mr Muthama and pledged to plan another rally in Tala, and this time bring along the vocal leader.


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