Uhuru ‘set up against’ Mt Kenya voters by his own aides

As President Uhuru Kenyatta tries to undo the gains made by his rebellious deputy William Ruto in Mt Kenya, analysts now blame his handlers for leading him into the dilemma.

He is realising that he need not look further than the group attending the Sagana III meeting to know where his current problem lies.

His handlers are being accused of setting him up with his own people.

The general view even among his newfound opposition in the region is that he is a nice, down-to-earth and well-meaning man who was misadvised by his aides. Add his quick-to-anger mien and his goose was cooked.

The result was an open rebellion among close politicians who have walked with him in his political journey and this spilled over to voters, who have seized every opportunity to humiliate him in political contests.

“Nothing is wrong with the President in the region, only that he represents a legion of voters who literally calculate their moves like investors,” analyst Prof Ngugi Njoroge says.

The President’s undoing, he said, is that he is fast approaching retirement and in Mt Kenya voters’ minds, the only help he can be to them is in the remaining one year of his term.

“This has seen his supporters start shopping for a political investment for the next 10 years,” Prof Njoroge said.

“In the absence of a serious presidential contender from their region…and following the agreement they had with the President when he had them at his beck and call and where he told them he would rule for 10 years and support Dr Ruto for a similar term, the end result is what he is going through presented in open defiance.”
But Kikuyu Council of Elders chairman Wachira Kiago believes the President still has clout on the mountain.

“The President remains one of our most accomplished heroes who has given us our fair share of development even under a very lean national budget,” Mzee Kiago said.

The President, the elder said, has built roads and connected the region to water and electricity “but many of those who were elected alongside him went out of their way and started feeding Mt Kenya voters with all sorts of propaganda just to make him impotent and lose grip of influencing 2022.”

Murang’a Elders Council chair Kiarie Ciombou said even when it gets cleared by every dawn that the President supports ODM chief Raila Odinga to become the fifth President, he does not see him ‘playing naïve’ by accompanying him at Mt Kenya campaign rallies.

“The President has never endorsed anyone and has always insisted that his cooperation with Mr Odinga is only limited to uniting the country,” Mr Ciombou said.

“He has always said that 2022 is in the hands of God and the decision on who succeeds him will be the people’s. But he has said that in his personal capacity he will vote as he pleases. That is not a direct endorsement of Mr Odinga and we need not fry him based on perceptions."

So deep are the frustrations about his loss of authority in the region that even his most ardent supporters feel he is going home after next year’s polls with a track record of a performer who never won appreciation.

“The President was systematically set up against his people by overzealous handlers whom he entrusted real power with,” long career administrator Joseph Kaguthi said.

Mr Kaguthi cites the Interior ministry as one of the major sources of the resentment in Mt Kenya.

“After the 1992 General Election, I was the provincial commissioner for Nyanza, where all elected members were in the opposition. I was representing a government that area residents perceived as a foreign occupation. Matters were not helped by the fact that we had a directive that all of us shun meetings with the opposition politicians,” he said.

He said he told President Daniel Moi that the directive was defeatist and that the government had to engage with the politicians.

“That is one wisdom that the Interior ministry has failed the President with, since it so openly disfranchised areas that were said to be under the grip of the Deputy President,” he said.

“The voters who follow their elected leaders took the harassment as direct contempt for them and hence the low rating that the Jubilee government has been facing in the Mt Kenya region.”

Dr Ruto’s followers have cited Interior CS Fred Matiang’i and his PS Karanja Kibicho as the culprits in undermining ‘Hustler Nation’ loyalists.

In March 11, during his tour of Murang’a County, Dr Matiang’i dismissed the accusations, saying “they were only aimed at besmirching the President, emanating from government politicians who had rebelled for no other reason but to be a nuisance and make the President look and smell bad politically”.

The bad feelings about the President’s political stance on the August elections were aggravated by his January 9, 2021 comments at the burial ceremony for Amani National Congress party leader Musalia Mudavadi’s mother in Vihiga County where he declared that his successor should not be from his community or that of the Deputy President.

Even his diehard supporters like Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth and Murang’a Governor Mwangi Wa Iria protested publicly, contradicting him by declaring that there was no law that supported his assertion.

Mr Wa Iria went ahead to declare that he would contest the presidency.

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi also later came out opposing the President's stance about locking out Mt Kenya from contesting the presidency.

The President was described as “aloof” because he avoided visiting the Mt Kenya region, his handlers saying the infighting between the Tangatanga and Kieleweke factions of Jubilee was the reason he stayed away.

On August 24, 2019, during the burial ceremony for benga musician John De Mathew, Mr Kenneth fired a salvo: “We hope that the President will now pick a time not in mourning and come and visit us so that we can revisit our strong friendship.”

The President did not take heed and instead unleashed three missiles to the region – one calling undefined residents “washenzi” (stupid) – declaring that he was not anyone’s boy and threatening that his choice for successor will leave the area shell-shocked.

As a result, it appears, the rebellion from the region’s electorate built up and matured to be manifested in recent by-elections where the President’s candidates were vanquished by Dr Ruto-sponsored candidates in Juja and Kiambaa in Kiambu County.

The Tangatanga wing of Mt Kenya politics, said Prof Peter Kagwanja, has done a nice job of “unjustifiably vilifying the President as one who has failed in economic policies of the low end population especially Small and Medium Enterprises as well as farmers”.

He said Tangatanga is to blame for not supporting the President to publicise his good intentions for his tribesmen “but rather launched a propaganda drive to portray him as a failure in service delivery but praising him as an individual”.

The President, he said, has at all levels acted to the best interests of the Mt Kenya region, where even by embracing Mr Odinga he was winning them peace to help them trade freely in peace.

The President, by his own political craft, built Dr Ruto in Mt Kenya, said political analyst Herman Manyora, and since 2013 allowed him to make unhindered inroads in the region until 2018, when he started showing signs of reneging on the promise he made to support him to succeed him.

The President, Mr Manyora argued, did not appear to consider that his Mt Kenya voters see themselves as the major stakeholders in his presidential win in 2013 and 2017 and expected their will to be respected.

“Some of the areas that they felt disregarded was the President’s decision to embrace Raila Odinga as his most trusted politician, the fact that his voters’ resolve in both elections was to block him (Mr Odinga) from rising to power,” Mr Manyora told a TV station.

Murang’a politician Irungu Nyakera said the President has worked hard to increase earnings for rice, coffee, tea, cotton, pyrethrum and livestock farmers “but there are those who have made a political occupation of conveniently ignoring what Jubilee through executive initiative has achieved, only promising what already has been realised should they ascend to power”.