Deputy President William Ruto on Thursday met Jubilee leaders from Taita-Taveta at his Mata farm in Taveta in efforts to win over the Coast region, an opposition stronghold, ahead of the next general election.
Sources at the meeting told the Nation that Dr Ruto met the team to solidify his support and lay the ground for his 2022 campaign machinery.
The leaders, including Taveta MP Naomi Shaban and Woman Representative Lydia Haika, led more than 200 delegates who pledged to support Dr Ruto's journey to State House in 2022.
Former Woman Representative Joyce Lay and a number of aspirants who ran for various seats under the party during the last general election also attended the meeting, where they held talks on a number of issues among them the grassroots elections expected to be held in March this year.
Although they declined to reveal the details of the meeting, Jubilee leaders said the meeting was successful and that it was meant to galvanise support for Dr Ruto's presidential bid.
During the meeting, the DP vowed to rally behind President Uhuru Kenyatta’s quest for national unity and support the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report.
Dr Ruto is said to have declared his support for the BBI report, although he previously appeared to differ with President Kenyatta and ODM party leader Raila Odinga when the two called for a people-driven process.
Previously, Dr Ruto vouched for a parliamentary initiative as the best way to implement the proposals by the BBI team chaired by Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji.
Recently, the DP and his allies have shifted goalposts, throwing their weight behind the BBI report whether Kenyans adopt or reject it.
"I support the BBI, but it must be people-driven. We will not allow people to use the BBI for their benefit,” he said.
He asked the party leaders to support the report since it will spearhead many reforms that would benefit the country.
The DP is also said to have asked the leaders to ensure they popularise the Jubilee Party in the region that is considered to be an opposition stronghold.
He dismissed talks of an anti-Ruto campaign within the party and told off those scheming to decimate Jubilee, insisting the party is intact.
“Jubilee is a national party that has support all over the country. We will not allow outsiders to bring disunity in our party,” he said.
The meeting comes at a time when a significant number of opposition leaders from the Coast region seem to be backing Dr Ruto.
The DP has been making inroads at the Coast and seems to be enjoying the support of several politicians, including tens of Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) MPs.
Ms Haika said the ruling party is gaining popularity at the Coast and will soon overthrow the opposition.
“We are the only party that has fronted a candidate for 2022. This means we are way ahead of other parties,” she argued.
She said the party will hold a number of meetings with various groups from the region to craft a strategy on selling Dr Ruto’s candidature.
“The meetings will be held very soon. For now, we are concentrating on the coming party elections,” she added.
Currently, the DP is enjoying support from MPs Aisha Jumwa (Malindi) Mohammed Ali (Nyali), Paul Katana (Kaloleni), Benjamin Tayari (Kinango), Badi Twalib (Jomvu), Ali Wario (Garsen), Kassim Tandaza (Matuga), Khatib Mwashetani (Lunga Lunga), Christine Zawadi (Nominated) and Athman Shariff (Lamu East).
In Taita Taveta, MPs Jones Mlolwa (Voi) Danson Mwashako (Wundanyi), Ms Haika, Ms Shaban and a number of MCAs are also supporting Dr Ruto.
Last year, the DP fell out with his former ally, Governor Granton Samboja, when Dr Ruto declared that the Taita-Taveta County government would not be dissolved as fronted by the county boss.
KEEP OFF TAITA-TAVETA
In return, the governor lashed out at Dr Ruto, telling him to keep off Taita-Taveta affairs and focus on his presidential bid.
Mr Samboja, who was elected on a Wiper party ticket, has openly declared support for the BBI and ODM leader Mr Odinga.
Jubilee youth leaders led by Hezron Mwachofi said the ruling party has a brighter future in the county since the opposition party is on its deathbed.