Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga

President Uhuru Kenyatta (left) with ODM leader Raila Odinga during the launch of the Building Bridges Initiative report in Nairobi on November 27, 2019.


Uhuru set to ‘endorse’ Raila bid, launch Ruto offensive at Sagana

What you need to know:

  • The Sagana State Lodge has, on at least two occasions, been the President’s preferred launchpad for political offensives.
  • Meeting scheduled for next week even as DP’s camp gains with the defection of Maragua MP to ‘Hustler Nation’ .

President Kenyatta has convened a meeting of Mt Kenya leaders at Sagana State Lodge in Nyeri County, dubbed Sagana Three, widely expected to be his first public forum in the region to root for Mr Raila Odinga’s presidential candidacy.

Coming soon after he recently declared he will start campaigning for his preferred successor, the President’s allies yesterday styled the meeting as a political tsunami that will influence the region’s direction in the August 9 General Election.

The meeting, according to multiple sources within President Kenyatta’s camp, is expected next week ahead of the Jubilee Party National Delegates Convention (NDC).

The Head of State is expected to use the occasion to launch an onslaught against his estranged deputy, Dr William Ruto, who has publicly declared he’s the region’s kingpin.

President Kenyatta is working with Mr Odinga, and their parties—Jubilee and ODM—have convened their NDCs on February 25 and 26 as they seek to ratify their coalition plans.

But yesterday, the DP, who was in Murang’a with his Kenya Kwanza Alliance team, dared Mr Odinga, and by extension his boss, President Kenyatta, to a duel in the vote-rich region.

“I know even if he is helped by who, Kenyans will be quick to know he is clueless on what are the country’s priorities,” the second-in-command said.

Jubilee vice-chairman David Murathe had hinted that President Kenyatta would soon meet Mt Kenya leaders and explain to them why he fell out with his deputy.

Changing the tide

The President has so far held two meetings at Sagana State Lodge dubbed Sagana One and Two, and at next week’s Sagana Three, he is expected to signal to the region the direction of his succession and reveal what went wrong between him and the DP.

Yesterday, Jubilee Secretary-General Raphael Tuju said that whereas he was not the spokesperson of the scheduled meeting, it was in the pipeline.

“Sagana Three is supposed to happen. It could happen either before or after the NDC but it’s supposed to happen,” Mr Tuju told Nation.

Kieni MP Kanini Kega, who is among those in Mr Odinga’s Azimio Mtaani campaign team, confirmed to the Nation that the Sagana Three meeting is planned for early next week after the President returns from Dubai where he is attending the Kenya-Gulf Cooperation Council business forum.

Mr Kega, who was appointed Budget committee chairperson following a purge of the DP’s allies from leadership posts in the National Assembly, said the meeting will bring on board leaders from all walks of life, including politicians, church leaders, elders, rights groups as well as representatives of the youth, women, “mama mboga and boda boda.”

“We’ve now decided to embark on going down to the areas we have worked [in] to remind the people what we promised — roads, markets, hospitals, railway revival — and what we have done, and also to tell our people why the President has chosen Raila and not Ruto,” Mr Kega said.

He went on: “Already the tides are changing in Mt Kenya before the President even goes to the ground. You can imagine now what will happen if he convenes Sagana Three, which will happen next week.”

Nyeri Town MP Wambugu Ngunjiri and his Gatanga counterpart Ngugi Nduati said the President will seize the opportunity next week to explain to the people of Mt Kenya his position regarding the August elections.

Succession matrix

“This is the time. Sagana Three is happening next week just before the NDC so that the President can explain to the region his position, plans and to give direction on how the region should vote in the coming election,” Mr Ngunjiri said.

Mr Nduati said President Kenyatta already signalled where his heart is during a meeting with more than 3,000 young leaders last Friday to review the progress of youth empowerment initiatives and affirmative action programmes.

During the meeting at State House, Nairobi, the President revealed his support for Raila’s Azimio la Umoja Movement, drawing applause from the more than 3,000 youth leaders, with some chanting Yote yawezekana bila Ruto (All is possible without Ruto).

“Sagana Three will give the President the best opportunity to explain to Mt Kenya region why he dropped DP Ruto from the succession matrix. We expect him to give us direction towards [the] Jubilee revitalisation roadmap, which has already started vigorously in the region,” Mr Ngugi said.

Mr Kega said Kenyans should expect a political tsunami that will change the tides once and for all in the region’s politics.

“The truth will come out. The lies that have been peddled by the DP and his troops will be debunked.

“We’re waiting with bated breath [for] the meeting, which will be an actual tsunami with earthquake combined,” Mr Kega said.

And even as the battle for supremacy in the mountain hots up, President Kenyatta’s camp yesterday lost Maragua MP Mary wa Maua to the DP’s side.

Ms Maua rejoined the Hustler Nation after being in the president’s corner for close to two years.

‘First-round win’

While accompanying the DP in Murang’a yesterday, Amani National Congress (ANC) boss Musalia Mudavadi said Mr Odinga has never been as vulnerable as he is ahead of August 9 poll and that was why he was keen on the President’s support.

“He has been deserted by his traditional allies. Where are his numbers today? We’re aiming at a first round win of 70 per cent plus one,” he said. 

But former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth said the noise by the Ruto group will not distract the Jubilee leader.

“No matter the noise that our competitors are famous for, the President remains our kingpin and the director of the succession plot in the August 9 polls,” Mr Kenneth said.

On Sagana Three, he said: “The President will come and speak with his people. He will tell them why he feels the community and the whole country should move to the more cohesive formation that brings all regions aboard one platform of belonging to Kenya. 

“He will showcase his immense development projects in the region and also tell us why he feels the country should not be left in the hands of self-seekers.”

Political analyst Dismas Mokua argues that the President is keen on visiting Mt Kenya in a bid to turn the tide against DP Ruto.

“The only reason why he’s going to campaign for Azimio in Mt Kenya is that, among the leadership there, none has the capacity to turn the tide and so the President himself must take the bull by the horns,” Mr Mokua said.

Additional reporting by Mwangi Muiruri