Moses Kuria veered to zone Central leaders dare not go

Wednesday March 18 2020
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Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria. He has publicly criticised President Uhuru Kenyatta, saying he has neglected the Mt Kenya region then did an about turn and apologised when the President censured him. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By GAKUU MATHENGE

Since he came to the limelight as a self-appointed spokesperson of former ruling party PNU (Party of National Unity), he has carved out a pesky maverick image with a penchant to poke the soft underbellies of his seniors with abandon.

When PNU top guns blocked Moses Kuria from vying for the party's youth leader’s position in 2009, he issued a statement calling an inordinate number of greyhaired elders in PNU and President Mwai Kibaki's Cabinet a bunch of Methuselahs!

His latest provocation came on December 30, 2018 in Thika town when he chose a well-attended social event, attended by among others Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu, to take on President Uhuru Kenyatta in a manner no elected leader in the Mt Kenya region has ever dared since Uhuru assumed power in 2013.

Images circulating on social media suggest the MP may have been a shade less than his sober best, but one may understand why he may have needed some fortification to say the things he said.

DEVELOPMENT

Indeed, he seemed to apologise in advance when he said: “I wish to say something, but do not take me seriously.”

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He went on: “In 2019, the President should be told we (Mt Kenya residents) expect fulfilment of our development expectations. He shouldn’t take us for dummies who only turn up to vote, but all he brings us is alcohol (rehabilitation) certificates. But in other regions he is unveiling project after project.”

No elected leader from the region, regardless of constituency or county, has ever had the audacity to take on the President in public, and so Kuria’s utterances lit up social media fast and furious, and mainstream media thereafter.

The only person to have previously complained about the seeming neglect of the region by the Jubilee administration was former Kiambu Governor William Kabogo.

NEGLECT

Kabogo chose a devolution summit held at the Sagana State Lodge, Nyeri, in February 2016 to speak to the President to his face in vernacular in front of the cameras.

“Munene, thirikari ino ni itu, no gwitia kindu ni shinda, ni shinda … ni tukwenda kuigwa uruguri wayo …(Mr President, the Jubilee government is ours too … but for this region to get any development project is an uphill task. We must feel the government's warmth too like other regions),” he said to a resounding applause from MCAs and locals in attendance.

Apparently someone took note, and it turned out Mr Kabogo had just spoken himself out of Jubilee Party’s re-election ticket and, by extension, the Kiambu gubernatorial seat.

Up to that point, the Mt Kenya leadership had attempted in vain to secure an appointment to raise unmet expectations in view of the looming 2017 re-election campaigns.

Even the business-cum-political lobby, Mt Kenya Foundation, also chose the same forum to read a wish list presented by former Nairobi Deputy Governor Polycarp Igathe.

“We had given up on attempts to secure an appointment. Each time we cornered him, even at the Sagana Summit, he would show up with the deputy president, the late Joseph Nkaissery or Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, making it hard for us to speak regional issues,” a source said.

JUBILEE

Kuria is among the most visible and vocal “Tanga Tanga" squad of youthful MPs from the Mt Kenya region who are unapologetic in their support for Dr Ruto’s 2022 presidential ambitions.

Coming a few days after Jubilee vice-chairman David Murathe declared President Kenyatta’s public pledge to support Ruto as his successor was not Jubilee's policy, some took Kuria’s statement as a warning salvo to anti-Ruto forces, that those who lived in glass houses should not throw stones.

Kuria wanted to show the DP that he was willing and able to fight right inside Jubilee if need be.

But Kuria’s statement, in jest or sleep talking, caused excitement not because it was novel discovery or original:

But President Kenyatta’s tenure has ushered a suffocating environment into the Mt Kenya region which makes Kuria sound bold and a risk taker, just like an odd freedom fighter.

CAUCUS

In stark contrast to retired President Kibaki’s 10-year rule when elected leaders met whenever they wished and issued personal and group statements on all manner of issues, such luxuries have been banished from Central region.

Even Uhuru himself enjoyed the liberty to once publicly deride President Kibaki as having adopted “a see no evil, hear no evil” stance on many burning issues of the day.

After the 2013 General Election, all attempts to reconstitute the once vibrant regional parliamentary caucus for issues of common interest and general ventilation in political discourse have been intensely fought.

One was set up during a conference at the Aberdares Country Club under the chairmanship of former Dagoretti South MP Dennis Waweru, deputised by then Meru Senator Kiraitu Murungi.

For some strange reasons, Waweru would finish his term as chair without members. Reason?

One source said it became impossible to meet or debate any agenda as calls would land from outer space demanding to know who had authorised the meeting or agenda.

CRITICS

When Kuria himself attempted to constitute the Parliamentary Group early last year, a call came from high up to Serena Hotel where MPs had converged, scattering the meeting and that was the last the PG was heard of.

Mr Kuria is sneered at and applauded in equal measure each time he opens his mouth to comment on topical issues.

His capacity to stoke trouble for others and for himself is unlimited.

When Jubilee wished to eject remnants of retired President Kibaki’s state to make room for complete consolidation, a narrative was unleashed that senior Kibaki-era civil servants had fixed Dr Ruto at the International Criminal Court by procuring witnesses.

Kuria would go public to implicate Narc-Kenya leader Martha Karua in the alleged witness recruitment schemes, landing himself in court with a defamation suit by the former Gichugu MP.

A dyed-in-the-wool Uhuru loyalist, Kuria has violently opposed the slightest hint that there could be any justification for Jubilee Party not to back Dr Ruto as its presidential candidate in 2022.

Kuria appeared to backtrack on his words on Friday, offering profuse apologies to the President, but the point had been made.