What you need to know:
- Former President Uhuru Kenyatta and his team are said to be capitalising on reported voter discontent in the region over President Ruto's failure to deliver on most of his pre-election promises.
- Analysts suggest that the perceived poor performance of the Kenya Kwanza government is working against DP Rigathi Gachagua and in favour of Mr Kenyatta's return to the political scene.
Former President Uhuru Kenyatta's hand in the current heightened political activities in the populous Mt Kenya region is threatening gains by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua.
Mr Gachagua has been trying to galvanise the region around him in his quest to succeed Mr Kenyatta as the region's political supremo.
But a year after leaving State House, Mr Kenyatta has re-emerged with his Jubilee Party engaged in a major political revamp through mass membership registration drive in the region with a focus on the 2027 General Election.
Mr Kenyatta has also been pulling strings behind the scenes on the national stage, prompting President Ruto and his allies, especially from the Mt Kenya region, to escalate their attacks against him, while alleging an attempt by the former Head of State to sabotage some of the Kenya Kwanza administration's pet projects like housing and universal health care.
Mr Kenyatta and his team are said to be capitalising on reported voter discontent in the region over President Ruto's failure to deliver on most of his pre-election promises.
High taxes that have hit businesses hard and increased the cost of living have also given the team momentum in the region, which overwhelmingly voted for Dr Ruto and Mr Gachagua in the 2022 elections.
The region has also witnessed reported re-emergence of the outlawed Mungiki sect linked to Maina Njenga.
In an earlier interview with the Nation, Mr Njenga, who is also emerging as one of Mr Gachagua's main political rivals in the region, said his intention was to rally the region to speak with one voice.
Also Read: Why DP Gachagua wants Uhuru to join UDA
Mr Njenga claimed to be in regular talks with Mr Kenyatta as well as Narc Kenya Party leader Martha Karua and Jubilee Secretary General Jeremiah Kioni to promote the Kamwene Leadership Forum. A Kamwene is a political platform that brings together politicians from the region, especially those in the opposition camp.
Analysts and political observers have noted that Mr Kenyatta remains a major threat to Mr Gachagua because of his financial muscle and name recognition.
His recent political activities - including holding meetings with Jubilee officials - are seen as an effort to regain his stature as well as reclaim his political base of Mt Kenya.
Analysts also suggest that the perceived poor performance of Kenya Kwanza is also working against Mr Gachagua and in favour of Mr Kenyatta's return to the political scene.
A survey released by Tifa Research in December showed that President Ruto's supporters are more disappointed with the government's performance since it came to power in September 2022.
Mr Kioni yesterday claimed that the current crackdown on the alleged illegal sect is part of a plan by those in the ruling alliance to stifle dissent.
Mr Kioni claimed the region had realised it had been lied to and was now rebelling against the regime. He, however, made it clear that Jubilee had nothing to do with Mr Njenga's activities in the region.
"This is the re-awakening of the people of Mt Kenya. They would want to demonise any activity that brings people together. They would call it all sorts of names to instill fear in our youth," said Mr Kioni.
"We are currently rebuilding our networks as Jubilee Party in Mt Kenya before we move to other regions. I can tell you that UDA will go home in the next election. They have failed and the people here do not need any more persuasion," he added.
Mr Gachagua recently said he was prepared to sacrifice his political career to stop any attempt to revive the dreaded outlawed sect.
"If there is a political price to pay for protecting women and our young girls, if I lose votes as a result of fighting the illegal sect, then so be it. I urge our youth to desist from being used to extort money from our Public Service Vehicles to take to an individual,” said Mr Gachagua.
National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung'wah in an interview with the Nation dismissed Mr Kenyatta's political influence in the region, saying he failed to influence people to vote for Raila Odinga and Martha Karua in the last election.
"He has failed and will fail, just like he failed to install Mr Odinga as president," he said.
Without naming names, Mr Ichung'wah claimed that some of the forces were now mobilising the outlawed Mungiki sect to instill fear in the region's leaders.
Former Nyeri Town Ngunjiri Wambugu - who is a close ally of Mr Gachagua - accused Mr Kenyatta of dividing the region for his selfish interests.
Mr Wambugu said it was in the region's interest to rally behind Mr Gachagua as their political leader and the most senior in the government.
"There is a strong push to unite the region behind Mr Gachagua because he is best placed to serve the interest of the region. But there seems to be a spirited effort to have a divided political voice. We are not going to sit and watch one individual divide our region," said Mr Wambugu.
Political analyst and university lecturer David Monda said Mr Kenyatta is main obstacle to Mr Gachagua’s rise in Mt Kenya region politics.
"Mr Kenyatta is a major threat to Mr Gachagua in that he has enormous financial power. He also has name recognition, old political/economic networks in Kenyan and international politics. So he would be a major obstacle to Mr Gachagua's rise in the Mt Kenya region," Prof Monda said.
He said Mr Gachagua must stop the former president's re-emergence to protect his political turf.