The rivalry between Deputy President William Ruto and Baringo Senator Gideon Moi played out in Murang’a when elected leaders snubbed an event attended by the lawmaker “on the orders of top Jubilee officials”.
Mr Moi was invited to a harambee at Gitui Catholic Church in Kiharu Constituency on Sunday.
Mr Robinson Chege, one of the organisers of the harambee, told the Nation that he invited all Murang’a leaders.
However, none, including the area ward representative, showed up.
Instead, most of them, led by Murang’a Woman Representative Sabina Chege and area MP Ndidi Nyoro, choose to attend a fundraiser at the All Saints Cathedral and nyama choma fete with Mr Ruto in Nairobi.
Kajiado Governor Joseph ole Lenku, who was at the Murang’a fundraiser, feigned surprise upon seeing the Kanu chairman.
He said he had not been notified by the church that the Baringo senator was a guest.
"I did not know I would meet my friend Gideon Moi here but I'm happy we shall contribute to the development of the church. I had notified Governor Mwangi wa Iria that I would be around and I have his blessings," Mr Lenku said.
According to an MP who did not want to be named, local leaders were warned against attending the event “as that would mean we were indirectly endorsing Mr Moi’s campaigns in our region”.
“We were presented with a “you-are-either-with-us-or-with-Gideon scenario by top party officials. The officials also accused Mr Moi of disrespecting the Mr Ruto. We did not want to antagonise the Deputy President this early,” the lawmaker said.
In May, Mr Ruto was blocked from seeing Gideon’s father, former President Daniel Moi at his Kabarak home, which led to claims that the senator was using any means at his disposal to humiliate Mr Ruto.
The Deputy President was accompanied by Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter, Ainabkoi MP William Chepkut and Mr Stephen Kipkenda, a lawyer.
Though he denied reports that leaders were coerced into shunning the Murang’a furndaiser, Senator Irungu Kangata accused Mr Moi of visiting his area without informing him, terming it a breach of protocol.
“But even if I knew he was coming, I would not attend the function. I do not want to be associated with Gideon for now,” the Murang’a senator said.
“We already have a presidential candidate in Jubilee and that is Mr William Ruto.”
Mr Nyoro said he would not have accompanied Mr Moi since his allegiance is with Mr Ruto.
He said accompanying Mr Moi to the fundraiser would have confused Kiharu voters “and such a decision has the potential to kill a political career in Murang’a, which is a Jubilee stronghold”.
"Any leader who wishes to take part in a fundraising in my constituency is welcome but politics is about loyalty. My loyalty and that of Kiharu people is to Mr Ruto. That is why not a single ward representative turned up," Mr Nyoro told the Nation.
However, some leaders interviewed claimed not to have been invited to the function.
Governor Iria said he and other leaders only learnt of the event late and had nothing to comment about it when asked why he failed to attend.
"I even didn't know about the visit in the first place. I can’t and don't have anything to say about it," the county boss told the Nation in a text message.
Ms Chege said she was not aware of the fundraiser and did not know the Baringo senator would be in Murang’a on Sunday.
The woman rep said had she been invited and had no other engagements, she would be at the church.
"A woman does not run away from visitors. I was not aware of the event," the lawmaker told the Nation.
The political rivalry between Mr Moi and Mr Ruto has been bubbling in the surface for long.
During an NTV interview on Sunday, the Deputy President refused to comment on the matter and said his relationship with the Baringo senator is “normal”.
“I relate to him the same way I relate to the other senators in the Senate,” said Mr Moi.