After carrying out a ruthless purge and taking control of Parliament, President Uhuru Kenyatta is now making calculated moves to further cripple his deputy William Ruto, as the Head of State seeks to maintain influence and grip on his vote bloc ahead of the 2022 elections.
Uhuru has enlisted the services of community and church elders to stop the DP’s spirited attempts to take over his vote-rich baskets in Mt Kenya and the Rift Valley.
The elders drawn from more than 100 Gikuyu, Embu and Meru Association (Gema) splinter groups and their Kalenjin counterparts have one instruction — convince political leaders allied to the Tangatanga faction of the ruling Jubilee Party to support the President and his agenda to unite the country.
According to Gikuyu Council of Elders chairman Wachira Kiago, the President indeed reached out to them
“The import of the matter was that the President was not happy that his Mt Kenya backyard was expressing open and bold distaste for him and his government,” Mr Kiago told a local daily.
“The fear was that it was as a result of incitement by DP Ruto’s men,” he added.
Uhuru is reported to have expressed fears that his community was walking into a succession trap that does not recognize their numerical strength in the voters’ register to guarantee them a prominent role in the next government.
Mr Kiago revealed that the President pushed for some selected council heads to go for a week-long benchmarking tour of the Buganda Kingdom to familiarise themselves with how numerical strength helps the community have a say in the Ugandan government.
“Bugandan, by forging unity of purpose, cannot be ignored by leadership and that is what the President wanted us to implement in Mt Kenya,” he said.
Senate Majority whip Irungu Kang’ata confirmed the silent grassroots movement, saying, the President had made it clear that he wants a Mt Kenya that will speak with one voice.
“The President is pushing us to actualise an agenda that makes us feel we’re one community that should be bound by unity and cohesion and which, through consultations and giving democracy a chance to thrive, will get the best talent emerging as the next kingpin,” Mr Kang’ata said.
The elders’ initiative, he said, was part of a grand campaign to undo schemes that “have divided our people”, adding that all these efforts will culminate in President Kenyatta endorsing his successor as Mt Kenya political kingpin.
Jubilee vice-chairman David Murathe said they had resolved that they will not “tire to walk to hell and back to unite Mt Kenya region.”
“We are not satisfied that the recent de-whipping of errant Jubilee members as well as edging out rebels from the ruling party is good enough,” he said.
“We are going deeper and wider. We want to address the issue of community cohesiveness and how best they can be in one bus of unity so as to lobby for their rightful share of economic and political opportunities.”
In the DP’s North Rift backyard, Uhuru has been reaching out to the elders and religious leaders to ensure they are not hoodwinked on what is going on between the Head of State and his deputy.
Sources within the Kalenjin Council of Elders averred that one of the Cabinet Secretaries has reached out to some of the elders in order to have one-on-one discussions with the President on a raft of issues.
“Despite [the] Deputy President hailing from this region, we remain disgruntled on many issues touching on our economic bloodline and that is why if it was not for Covid-19, we could have met the President and charted the way forward,” an elder said.
Some elders have accused the DP of causing political divisions in the community by creating camps to undermine other leaders for personal gain.
“We fail to understand why Dr Ruto has in the past sidelined local leaders and elders and created preferred cliques to advance his State House agenda, but has been quick to seek community blessings now that he is facing a storm in the ruling Jubilee Party, said Keiyo elder Yusuf Keitany.