You can’t stop us from meeting Kenyans, Rift Valley MPs tell DP Gachagua

Kipchumba Murkomen

Roads Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen (left), Bomet Senator Hillary Sigei and Bomet East MP Richard Yegon during a Sunday service at Kaplomboi Catholic Church in Sotik constituency, Bomet County on May 26, 2024. 

Photo credit: Vitalis Kimutai | Nation Media Group

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua appears to have taken the gloves off in a battle with Rift Valley politicians and 'power brokers' perceived to be working for his downfall.

In doing so, he has set himself up as a punching bag for a section of the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) MPs, signalling a widening rift in President William Ruto's Kenya Kwanza coalition.

A group of Rift Valley MPs led by Bomet Senator Hilary Sigei, Mogotio MP Reuben Kiborek and Francis Sigei (Sotik) and Japeth Nyakundi (Kitutu Chache) Cabinet Secretary for Roads and Public Works Kipchumba Murkomen, who was named as one of those undermining Mr Gachagua, said like his colleagues in the Executive, he had a responsibility to traverse the country selling government policies, engaging with people and trying to solve their problems.

“I have neither time nor the freedom to engage in politics even as my critics seek to involve me in succession talk. My only duty is to assist the President to deliver on his mandate through my docket,” Mr Murkomen said at Kaplomboi Catholic Church in Sotik constituency, Bomet County, on Sunday.

 “There are people who have problems with us (Cabinet secretaries) when we tour the country and fellowship with Kenyans over the weekend, yet it is the opportunity for us in the Executive arm of government to come face to face with the realities on the ground,” Mr Murkomen said.

Political development

Led by Bomet Senator Hillary Sigei, MPs – Rueben Kiborek (Mogotio), Francis Sigei (Sotik), Japeth Nyakundi (Kitutu Chache) and Brighton Yegon (Konoin) who accompanied Mr Murkomen at the function, said all elected leaders should be free to tour other regions and participate in socio-economic and political development.

The MPs in the meeting attended by Bomet Deputy Governor Shadrack Rotich, Senator Hillary Sigei, Woman Representative Linet Chepkorir Toto and Richard Yegon (Bomet East) said the same way Dr Ruto traversed the country seeking votes early to a level he was branded a ‘Tanga Tanga’(roaming) Deputy President is the same style they had adopted in engaging Kenyans in selling UDA policies.

“Leaders from across the country should work together, unite the people and support President Ruto to deliver on his development agenda. The people expect a lot from us as their elected representatives and we should not be engaged in petty squabbles” Senator Sigei said.

They said it was the responsibility of senior Kenya Kwanza politicians to nurture their young colleagues in politics of succession without the youthful lot feeling condemned.  

“As young leaders, we have a close-knit relationship and cooperation that has seen us develop our regions. The senior politicians have their way of doing politics while the youth have a way of charting their course,” Mr Kiborek said.

Mr Kiborek said “Whoever sees young leaders as foolish is setting himself up for attack and a fall. Politics of dividing the people, gagging their leaders, and confining them to their zones is archaic.”

 “The same way you (seniors) were nurtured by others who held your hand, we are looking up to you to provide the same support to us. We should be set free to make friends, strengthen our bond as young leaders and initiate development projects across the country,” Mr Nyakundi said.

“The politics of deceit, tribalism, nepotism and division should not arise in this era, we should seek to unite the people and not balkanise them…”, he added.

“We are behind the President and should be careful as leaders not to cause a rift among Kenyans. We do not envisage a fall-out in UDA and Kenya Kwanza as that would be a betrayal of the people who supported us in the last General Election” Mr Sigei (Sotik MP) said.

Mr Gachagua’s timing of the tour of the North Rift, President William Ruto’s backyard, when his boss was away on an official tour of the United States of America (US) and the tone of his speech was so telling of the fallout in the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party, the principal political outfit in the Kenya Kwanza government.

Former Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri claimed that a clique of Cabinet Secretaries, governors, MPs and political brokers around President Ruto were driving a wedge between Dr Ruto and Mr Gachagua.

The DP is increasingly being seen to be fighting for political space in the Mount Kenya region where a multi-pronged attack by Azimio leaders has choked him led by Narc Kenya party leader Martha Karua and Jubilee Secretary-General Jeremiah Kioni on one hand and Cabinet Secretary for Public Service Moses Kuria and Kirinyaga Governor Ann Waiguru on the other.

Though he did not mention names, Mr Gachagua is thought to have been aiming his guns at Kapseret legislator Oscar Kipchumba Sudi who has lately been very abrasive against his fellow lawmakers and senior politicians from the North Rift region.

Mr Sudi has not only been seen to be having a condescending approach to fellow leaders in public functions but is believed in the corridors of power to be among those leading a pack of politicians charting a new political path in Kenya Kwanza to the chagrin of Mr Gachagua and his supporters who have gone public with the narrative.

Undermining colleagues

Governor Jonathan Bii (Uasin Gishu), Senator Jackson Mandago and Kesses MP Julius Ruto are among leaders who have fallen victim to Mr Sudi’s public scolding in the recent past.

“I want to advise MPs from Rift Valley to stay in their constituencies and stop undermining their colleagues. We do not want political tourism…it must come to an end…And if you are interested in shifting constituencies, wait until the next general election” Mr Gachagua said.

The DP accused a section of Rift Valley leaders of fuelling political conflicts in the Mount Kenya region that has seen him come under pressure in the past few days.

“Leaders and residents from Mount Kenya are honest straightforward people who pay their political debts…But they hate betrayal” Mr Gachagua said in Uasin Gishu on Saturday,

Mr Ngunjiri who is among those who were nominated as Cabinet Administrative Secretaries (CAS) claimed that Mr Gachagua was being fought because of seeking to mend fences with former President Uhuru Kenyatta over Mt Kenya politics.

“The onus is on President Ruto to bring this sideshow and petty politics with the potential to wreck the unity in UDA and Kenya Kwanza to an end,” Mr Ngunjiri said in Nakuru.

He said a high number of people in government and the corridors of power had become overnight billionaires, money of which those benefiting from graft were allegedly using to fund discord in UDA.

“It is unfortunate that after one and a half years, we are already squabbling over a government that God gave us in the last general election. We have created billionaires who are no longer bothered by the problems facing the people. There is a clique around the President that is drunk with power,” Mr Ngunjiri said.

Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga has led key supporters of Mr Gachagua in condemning politicians and power barons who are allegedly out to cause discord between him (DP) and his boss (Dr Ruto) ahead of the next general election.

Mr Kahiga said the three million voters in Mt Kenya region were keenly watching the unfolding scenario in the country, especially in the UDA party and Kenya Kwanza government and that those undermining the DP will live to regret.

Cabinet Secretary for Public Service Moses Mr Kuria has disagreed with Mr Gachagua over the centre of power in the Mount Kenya region and solving the issues affecting the people.

Mr Kuria recently said Mr Gachagua’s position that channelling of grievances on development in Mount Kenya to the government should go through him, was wrong.