Deputy President William Ruto held a meeting with leaders from the Rift Valley and Mt Kenya on Friday, just a day after lawmakers allied to him voted for the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) at the National Assembly.
Dr Ruto met 33 leaders at Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika’s residence in Nairobi in what he said was discussions on “re-engineering Kenya’s economy”.
“Through ongoing consultations covering all regions and sectors of the economy, we anticipate the generation of more jobs and expanded opportunities for those in the lower cadre,” he said after the meeting.
He promised to meet ward representatives, the clergy and business leaders when restrictions meant to stop the spread of coronavirus are lifted.
Ms Kihika is a political rival of Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri, a Ruto ally who voted for the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
Mr Ngunjiri was in Nakuru town distributing United Democratic Alliance (UDA) membership cards yesterday. The party is associated with Dr Ruto.
A source at the meeting said the leaders agreed to let senators “vote with their conscience on BBI” as Team Ruto puts all its energy on the 2022 General Election and identifying candidates to contest in areas represented by MPs not friendly to him.
Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria briefed the meeting on the Juja by-election.
Mr George Ndung’u Koimburi is contesting the seat on a People Empowerment Party, an outfit linked to Mr Kuria.
Dr Ruto’s allies have rallied behind Mr Koimburi in the May 18 Juja mini vote.
Murang’a Senator Irung’u Kang’ata, who attended the meeting, told the Sunday Nation that the DP and his economic adviser David Ndii took the leaders through his “bottom-up” economic plan, which he hopes to use in his journey for State House.
“The meeting discussed economic issues. The economic team gave its ideas and we added our views,” Mr Kang’ata said.
“I proposed three issues to be added to the blueprint – free healthcare, deregulation of the economy to spur growth and free lunch to school children.”
He said the leaders agreed to dispel the notion that the economic model is State-led capitalism.
Asked if it was a crisis meeting after a number of Dr Ruto’s supporters backed the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020 on Thursday, he maintained that the (BBI) is not a priority to the DP’s allies “and will never be part of our discussions”.
Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua said the meeting took place at the request of Dr Ruto’s allies who were not part of the Maasai Mara retreat “and wanted to be appraised on the new economic model”.