For self-survival, Mt Kenya must solidly rally behind Uhuru

President Uhuru Kenyatta. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • Former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth has been fronted as Uhuru's successor, an issue that has sparked uproar after some leaders reportedly met to drive this agenda last week.

Sometime in 2010, the late former Cabinet minister John Michuki announced Uhuru Kenyatta’s rise to the helm of Mt Kenya politics in the most authoritative of ways. With the 2013 general elections on the horizon, and with Mr Kenyatta yet to declare his interest in the presidency, Michuki rather endorsed the then Finance minister as the undisputed kingpin of the Agikuyu people; for a long time to come.

“Uhuru Kenyatta will be the leader of the Gikuyu people. Every person who loves the Agikuyu should follow Uhuru. Anyone who wants to talk to the Agikuyu should speak with Uhuru, he will direct us,” he stated firmly, noting that only Uhuru could put Mt Kenya people at the centre of future governments.

True to his word, Uhuru assumed the presidency just over two years later and continues to hold the country’s top job while currently working hard to ensure the region will retain its strong bargaining power after his exit.

POLITICAL TEMPERATURES

Given this reality, it is surprising that political temperatures in the President’s political base have risen in recent weeks as a supposed race to succeed him as kingpin after 2022 gains momentum.

New parties are springing up in the region as salivating politicians test the political waters while positioning themselves as the heirs apparent.

Restless former Agriculture Cabinet secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri, who recently founded The Service Party as his political vehicle, has already labelled himself the “next big thing” in the region while Murang’a governor Mwangi wa Iria last week announced he would use his Civic Renewal Party to seek a national elective position in 2022.

Former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth has been fronted as Uhuru's successor, an issue that has sparked uproar after some leaders reportedly met to drive this agenda last week.

These ambitious politicians may burn the midnight oil scheming, but they can rest assured that they are going nowhere without Uhuru's blessings.

 Having decided to go against the grain, ignoring the political wisdom of Michuki and others while clearly unable to read the signs of the times, one can only pray that their downfall will not be as thunderous as that of several others before them.

POLITICAL COLD

Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua is today facing her eighth year in the political cold, paying the price for the false belief that she was better positioned than Uhuru to succeed Mwai Kibaki in 2013.

Kenneth is suffering similar fate after underestimating Kenyatta’s charm and challenging him for the presidency, and the Mt Kenya leadership.

The reality is that Kenyatta is the undisputed king of the Mt Kenya region and is not about to relinquish this position any time soon. But give it to him that he has singularly focused on developing the country - including his backyard - during his tenure as president.

While he has been busy introducing agricultural reforms, building roads and connecting people to electricity, some selfish politicians have exploited his minimal involvement in local politics to label him a lame-duck president.

Rather than help him fulfill his election promises, they have been busy creating the impression of a yawning leadership vacuum in Mt Kenya.

Among those pushing this agenda is Deputy President William Ruto through his now vanquished central Kenya allies. Kenyatta seems to have, all along, been privy to these schemes.

He late last year confronted his challengers during the Mt Kenya leaders' forum at Sagana State Lodge, accusing them of trying to ‘bury’ him alive by undermining him in his own backyard while he was still in office.

SMALL PARTIES

But still, there are those who wouldn’t listen; they continue hawking their non-starter parties as they eye a share of the expected spoils in 2022.

 Kenyatta, in the best interest of Mt Kenya, has always warned against having many small parties in the region. Such parties, he rightly argues, only serve to weaken the region’s bargaining power at the national political table while slowing its momentum.

 A perfect example was in the 10th Parliament where ‘pocket’ parties from the region secured a number of parliamentary seats but direly left Kibaki’s Party of National Unity without a majority.

To avoid a recurrence of such a debilitating crisis, the President oversaw the merger of small parties within Jubilee Party, which he is now tirelessly consolidating in a bid to safeguard Mt Kenya’s strength in a party that will be able to dictate the political outcome in the absence of an apparent presidential candidate for the first time since the 1992.

It is for this reason that all farsighted Mt Kenya politicians have stayed put in Jubilee, having realized this is the party of the present and the future whose ticket will guarantee their political survival.

Those of a contrary opinion can continue fantasising; they will realise their mistake when it is too late.

 As for the presidential succession, the people of Mt Kenya must remain firmly behind Uhuru and are waiting for him to give direction when the time comes. The President has already made it clear that he will be actively involved in his succession, and that his choice will shock many.

Mr Kwinga, is a political scientist. [email protected]