Devolution Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri yesterday denied claims by more than 40 legislators from Mt Kenya region that he plotted their downfall in the recent Jubilee Party nominations.
Mr Kiunjuri also dismissed allegations by the MPs who met President Uhuru Kenyatta about 10 days ago, that he was positioning himself to become Deputy President William Ruto’s running mate in the 2022 elections.
“I was not involved in any way in the nominations. I am a member of the Cabinet and my duty is to proclaim government policies and achievements. The MPs should carry their own cross,” he said on the phone.
He was responding to allegations that arose during the President’s State House meeting with disgruntled MPs from Mt Kenya.
The early morning meeting was arranged at the request of sitting legislators who accused Mr Kiunjuri of rigging them out during the Jubilee Party primaries.
The meeting lasted about 40 minutes as President Kenyatta was expected to attend the National Delegates Conferences of Jubilee-friendly parties that endorsed his re-election.
He was also scheduled to preside over the Jubilee Party’s NDC to formally get the endorsement from delegates.
Several speakers at the State House meeting accused the Devolution CS of working in cahoots with members of the Jubilee Party elections board to rig the primaries in favour of their opponents.
Three MPs who spoke to the Daily Nation in confidence, said the agitated legislators warned that Mr Kiunjuri’s actions risked causing voter apathy in the Jubilee Party stronghold.
“Those who were given a chance to speak all pointed fingers at Kiunjuri because his hand in the shambolic nominations was very clear, especially in Laikipia, Nyeri, Nyandarua, Murang’a, Kirinyaga and even Embu.
"Cess (Runyenjes MP Cecily Mbarire), for instance, complained bitterly about the way she was rigged out, blaming Kiunjuri for her tribulations,” an MP who attended the meeting said.
“We are aware he was working with election officials at the county level to ensure most of us (sitting legislators) did not win the nominations.
"We know he wants to position himself as Ruto’s running mate in 2022 by locking out popular politicians from the region,” another MP from Nyeri said.
President Kenyatta is said to have listened quietly, once in a while asking some of the speakers to elaborate their statements before rising to address their concerns.
He is then said to have asked the aggrieved legislators, who included Nyeri Senator Mutahi Kagwe, his Murang’a counterpart Kembi Gitura, Kiambu Woman Representative Anne Nyokabi, MPs Jamleck Kamau (Kigumo), Kabando wa Kabando (Mukurweini), Ms Mbarire, Dennis Waweru (Dagoretti South), Ndung’u Gethenji, Esther Murugi (Nyeri Town), Mary Wambui (Othaya) and Esther Gathogo, among others, to choose two people from among themselves to be channelling their concerns to him going forward. They settled on Mr Kamau and Ms Wambui.
“He appeared genuinely surprised by our revelations, but asked us not to stop campaigning for his re-election in our various constituencies and counties,” another source said.
Yesterday, Mr Kiunjuri challenged the lawmakers to provide evidence to prove their allegations as he stated that the Jubilee Party National Elections Board can attest to his innocence.
“Anybody who claims I was involved should prove that I had a hand. They should stop drawing the President into it because even government intelligence can prove me right.
"If you lost in the nominations, don’t use me as a scapegoat. I will not allow it,” he said.
The Devolution CS asked how he could influence the outcome of the nominations in six counties and urged the MPs to go back to the voters and ask them why they rejected them.
“I am surprised that I have powers to interfere in all those counties in the region. If those claims were true, then I should be so powerful. They should carry their own cross,” he said.
On allegations that he was positioning himself to become Mr Ruto’s running mate in 2022, Mr Kiunjuri said he was content with his ministerial post and accused some of those who went to State House of eyeing the deputy president’s slot in five years’ time.
“I challenge anyone to tell me one day when I uttered words that I want to be Ruto’s running mate. Kenyans know who is positioning himself and I hereby tell them that a drowning man can hold onto anything, including a snake.”
The MPs told the President that more than 20 legislators from the region had made up their minds to run as independent candidates during the August 8 election.
President Kenyatta is said to have granted their request to run as independent candidates but on condition that they would campaign for his re-election.
Those who have declared their intention to run independently include Mr Gitura, Ms Mbarire, Mr Kabando, former permanent secretary Thuita Mwangi and John Mututho, among others.