Rigathi Gachagua
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Rigathi Gachagua’s game plan and the making of Karen residence centre of power

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Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua's official residence in Karen.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua is slowly turning his official residence in Karen into an alternate centre of power by holding high-profile State meetings as well as hosting top foreign government officials.

The DP last week rolled out a red carpet for Somalia Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre and his delegation for bilateral talks, lending credence to the changing face of his office as an alternate centre of power after State House.

Unlike his predecessor – now President William Ruto – Mr Gachagua rarely carries out his official functions at Harambee House Annex.

He has also been holding Cabinet Sub-committee meetings as well as the Intergovernmental Budget and Economic Council (IBEC) with governors in Karen.

At the height of their political fallout with then-President Uhuru Kenyatta, Dr Ruto was only known to hold political meetings at the official residence.

So regular were the political gatherings that the opposition accused him of abusing the facility.

The opposition had even petitioned the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) over Dr Ruto’s alleged use of State resources to campaign.

 Hamza Abdi Barre

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua hosts the Prime Minister of the Federal Republic of Somalia Hamza Abdi Barre at his official residence in Karen, Nairobi on May 7, 2024. 

Photo credit: DPCS

Mr Gachagua’s allies say that hosting visiting foreign officials at his official residence is a sign that President Ruto has given him a free hand to discharge his duties.

The second-in-command has also been holding high-level United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party meetings, credited for pushing for the amendment of the party constitution to allow for a single deputy party leader.

Fruitful engagement

“Kenya-Somalia relations are growing from strength to strength. This was affirmed as I hosted the Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre and his delegation for bilateral trade at the Official Residence in Karen, Nairobi. Kenya continues to grow and deepen her relations with other States, as one of the strategies of creating a resilient economy,” Mr Gachagua said on May 7.

“I had the pleasure to host the Prime Minister for high-level bilateral engagements…on behalf of the government of Kenya, led by President William Ruto, I wish to thank the Prime Minister for this highly fruitful engagement. Kenya and Somalia enjoy deep-rooted ties mutually beneficial to our great nations,” he added.

Rigathi Gachagua

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua with CoG chair Ann Waiguru, Wajir Governor Ahmed Abdullahi, Nandi Governor Steven Sang and Kiambu Governor Kimani Wamatangi during a press briefing at the 21st Ordinary session of Intergovermental Budget and Economic Council at official Karen residence, Nairobi.

Photo credit: DPCS

Although the DP has recently been missing in some key State House events, including the State visit by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni that have given room for speculations that there could be trouble between him and the President, his allies have insisted that he continues to enjoy the confidence of the Head of State for him to hold such high-level meetings to discuss government agenda.

They also cited his constant use of military choppers as some of the indicators that the President has given his deputy a free hand to discharge his duties.

“President Ruto doesn’t feel threatened by his deputy. That is why you can see the DP hosting a visiting Prime Minister. It is part of his culture of walking the talk by ensuring that his deputy does not face similar frustrations that he endured when he was in the office,” said Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa.

Succession battles

East African Legislative assembly (EALA) MP David Sankok said unlike Mr Kenyatta, Dr Ruto is not suspicious of the activities of his deputy.

“Ruto could not hold high-profile meetings with visiting government officials at his official residence. But Ruto trusts his deputy. As much as he is hands-on, he also allows other people to work freely,” said Mr Sankok.

Rigathi Gachagua

The intervention followed a meeting between 300 traders and the government chaired by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua on Thursday. The meeting was held at the Deputy President's Official Residence in Karen.

Photo credit: DPCS

Nyaribari Chache MP Zaheer Jhanda said the DP has the support of his boss.

“President has confidence in him due to his vast experience in Public Administration. Politics played out loudly during Uhuru’s time for obvious political succession reasons and that is why even the military choppers were limited to Uhuru and his inner circle,” he offered.

On May 26, Mr Gachagua held yet another high-profile government meeting at his official residence that was attended by some members of the Cabinet and top officials of private sectors to discuss sustainable means of addressing floods.

Cabinet Secretaries Njuguna Ndungu (National Treasury), Prof Kithure Kindiki (Interior and Administration of National Government), Principal Secretary for Internal Security Raymond Omollo and Nakuru Governor Susan Kihika attended the meeting that he hosted at the official residence.

DP Rigathi Gachagua holds talks with the Vice-President of Colombia Francia Marquez Mina

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua holds talks with the Vice-President of Colombia Francia Marquez Mina at his official residence in Nairobi on May 15.

Photo credit: Photo | DPCS

In the meeting, the Private Sector was represented by Safaricom Limited CEO Peter Ndegwa, East African Breweries Limited Managing Director Jane Karuku and Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa) Foundation Executive Director Gloria Ndekei.

“The National Disaster Response Steering Committee meeting with Cabinet Secretaries, Principal Secretaries, relevant State Agencies, County Governments, the Private Sector actors, Development Partners and Diplomatic Missions, at the Official Residence in Karen allowed for a review of the impact of the immediate actions so far and strategising on more resource mobilisation for sustained mitigation,” said Mr Gachagua. On April 26, Mr Gachagua held yet another meeting to discuss reforms in the tea sector.

“This morning, at the Official Residence in Karen, I had an engagement with stakeholders on the reforms and preparations for the elections. We are keen to pursue more earnings through faster implementation of the reforms being rolled out in the sub-sector,” said Mr Gachagua.

The meeting was attended by Attorney-General Justin Muturi, Interior PS Raymond Omollo, Crops Development Principal Secretary Paul Rono, Senate Majority Leader Aaron Cheruiyot, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Kamau Murango (Kirinyaga Senator), Tea Board of Kenya Chairman Jacob Kahiu and KTDA Holdings Chief Executive Officer Wilson Muthaura.