William Ruto takes vote hunt to President’s home village
What you need to know:
- The Deputy President had previously deftly avoided Gatundu South where the Head of State once represented as MP.
- The DP will be hosted by United Democratic Alliance (UDA) aspirants and elected leaders.
Deputy President William Ruto is set to hold a campaign rally in Ichaweri, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s rural home village, opening a fresh chapter in the dramatic fallout between the two former political soulmates.
DP Ruto has held numerous campaign meetings in President Kenyatta’s Kiambu County backyard since their political fallout in early 2019, but he has deftly avoided Gatundu South constituency, which the Head of State once represented as a Member of Parliament.
The country’s second-in-command is, however, scheduled to start his March 18 Gatundu South visit with a rally in Ngenda Ward, where his boss traditionally casts his vote, before moving to Kimunyu, Mutomo, Kiamwangi, Mundoro and Kiamwangi. "We will have five stops in Gatundu South. The last time Ruto was in Gatundu South was three years ago,” said Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wah.
The DP will be hosted by United Democratic Alliance (UDA) aspirants and elected leaders.
His team has drawn up an elaborate campaign route that will include a visit to the President’s hometown, ward and rallies at a venue where the First Family is embroiled in a land dispute with villagers over the construction of a university named after the President’s mother.
More than 160 landowners in Mutomo have opposed the compulsory acquisition of their land to pave the way for expansion of Mama Ngina University.
Avoided attacking Uhuru
Dr Ruto has previously held rallies in the neighbouring Gatundu North where he avoided attacking the President directly, leaving the direct jibes to his close allies.
Mr Ichung’wah yesterday said the Friday event in Gatundu South will be a UDA rally with Kenya Kwanza partners — Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi and Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula.
The area MP Moses Kuria, who is also the Chama Cha Kazi leader, recently announced that he is ready to work with Kenya Kwanza.
However, Mr Ichung’wah yesterday said Mr Kuria, who has announced that he will be vying for the Kiambu governor seat, is unwanted in UDA.
He warned Mr Kuria against partnering with UDA “to create confusion and sell party tickets during nominations”.
He added: “I’m not aware of any such partnership (between Mr Kuria’s Chama Cha Kazi and UDA)... UDA is a party that welcomes everyone and if he intends to join UDA, he is welcome but not to create confusion to vend tickets. Our people are in UDA as their party of choice.”
Ruto's inroads in Kiambu
Yesterday, Mr Kuria said he has not been invited for a weekend rally in Thika, adding he was not ready “to jump into coalitions without knowing what is being offered”, citing Mr Mudavadi and Mr Wetangula’s “pre-bargained” partnership with UDA.
Kiambu County Assembly Speaker Stephen Ndicho, who is vying for the gubernatorial seat on a UDA ticket, said the DP’s visit is timely.
“Let everyone come to Gatundu South and let the people decide whom they want as their preferred candidate,” he said.
President Kenyatta’s allies, however, hold that Dr Ruto's inroads in Kiambu are insignificant.
Kiambu Town MP Jude Njomo said Mr Kenyatta is still powerful in the county. “Jubilee Party is still popular in the area and people are behind President Uhuru Kenyatta,” he said.
Gatundu North MP Wanjiku Kibe of Jubilee said Kiambu “is actively in Azimio, not UDA... People now know his (DP Ruto) politics are based on lies and deceit. Our people are now wiser and cannot be misled."