Deputy President William Ruto’s allies in Mt Kenya are under siege from a multiplicity of players determined to scuttle his 2022 election plans.
Those against his political journey have deployed different ways to cut him to size.
Rallies of his allies have been disrupted, some are targeted for alleged corruption while others have had their opponents appointed to plum positions.
Some of the leaders are avoiding Dr Ruto. When Mr Ruto spent two days in Meru last weekend, Governor Kiraitu Murungi was conspicuously absent.
Even though Mr Murungi’s absence may be explained away, that he could have been engaged elsewhere and therefore missed the DP’s engagements, that could wash for a day but not for two days in a row.
The recent appointment of 2017 General Election political losers is also touted as an extended plan to tame members affiliated to Tangatanga group for defying the presidential directive of halting premature campaigns.
The appointments that largely happened in areas where their MPs back Dr Ruto saw the opponents and arch-rivals of Tangatanga lieutenants landing plump State jobs.
The majority of the presidential appointees are those who complained they were rigged out in the Jubilee Party nominations in which Dr Ruto was accused of meddling with the process by fixing his preferred candidates.
In Maragua, Kiharu and Kandara, where MPs are perceived to be Dr Ruto’s handlers, their opponents were given top appointments.
Mr Elias Mbau, who lost to Ms Mary Waithira, was appointed to head NEPPAD; Mr Joshua Toro, an opponent of Ms Alice Wahome, was picked to head the National Irrigation Board while Mr Karanja Mburu, an arc-rival of Ndindi Nyoro, will be heading Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport project.
Former Muranga Senator Kembi Gitura was appointed to be a member of the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority board, while Murang’a gubernatorial loser Jamleck Kamau was appointed to head Tana and Athi Rivers Development Authority.
In Nyeri, former Women Representative Priscilla Nyokabi, who is pro-Uhuru, was appointed a commissioner in the National Gender and Equality Commission.
BIG FOUR AGENDA
Her successor, Ms Rahab Mukami, is in the pro-Ruto women wing campaign team known as Inua Mama, an offshoot of Tangatanga.
Ms Nyokabi is a member of the anti-Ruto group known as Team Embrace, which has the same message as Kieleweke.
Former Mukurwe-ini MP Kabando wa Kabando has also been appointed the chairman of the Local Authorities Provident Fund board.
The poll losers have been attending functions in the villages such as funerals, fundraisers and church services, where they take the podium to praise the “handshake” and condemn its opposers.
Kieleweke team have hailed the move, saying the leaders were elected to protect and defend the President, a role he said they had failed.
Gatanga MP Nduati Ngugi told the Sunday Nation that the leaders are supposed to be the President’s ambassadors, using their committees, but have defied his calls to stop premature campaigns to implement the Big Four Agenda.
He calls for Tangatanga MPs to be removed from parliamentary committees.
“The positions the leaders hold in Parliament are very integral in realising the President’s dreams of actualising the Big Four Agenda, but they are busy campaigning for their master; the President had to look for their replacements to represent him in their areas.
The appointees have been moving together with political groupings — Kieleweke and Team Embrace — that are championing the Raila-Uhuru political unity and fighting the Deputy President.
The appointees have started conducting thanksgiving ceremony in their respective churches with their Kieleweke allies.
Mr Toro held one two months ago at ACK Kariua Kandara, where the Maina Kamanda-led team praised President Kenyatta for the appointments.
Mr Mbau also held his thanksgiving ceremony in Maragua where he promised to defend and complement the President to accomplish his Big Four Agenda.
“I will work with other leaders to support and complement the government to realise the agenda of the President,” he said.
The Sunday Nation learnt that Mr Mburu will hold his thanksgiving ceremony next month and some government representatives are expected to attend.
However, the targeted leaders told the Sunday Nation that they will not be intimidated.
Those who did not wish to be quoted said the government was hell-bent on countering them, saying they are ready for it and that the appointees would not be of much help to the President.
“These are people who have been rejected by the electorate; which gain will they bring to the table in Kieleweke camp? It’s just a waste of time,” an MP said.
Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro said he wished his opponent well and even thanked the State for offering a job to his constituent.
“That’s a plus to our people in Kiharu; we are grateful to the State for remembering one of us and, if another chance arises, let them remember us again since Kiharu is a vast constituency,” he said.
Political analyst Phillip Kamau says President Kenyatta rewarded the poll losers so that they can push his political agenda ahead of 2022, such as the ‘Handshake’ and the referendum.
“The current elected leaders were said to have been rigged in and were the preferred candidates. They later started campaigning for Dr Ruto’s presidency and opposing the President and his initiatives. So, it is common sense the President had to put his people on the ground to push for his political interests,” he says.
Mr Kamau observes that the President appointed the poll losers to counter the winners who deserted him.
But Ms Nyokabi denies that she was appointed to neutralise Ms Mukami. She says it was just a coincidence that the two are in rival political groupings.
While insisting she was unfairly defeated in the Woman Rep race, Ms Nyokabi says when strong leaders are removed through a process that is not credible, they deserve State appointment.
“Some of us (those appointed) are visionary, strong and professionals. Thus, going to politics does not negate the professional qualifications. The current duty is to support the President’s legacy and his agenda, like the Building Bridges Initiative,” she says.
Ms Nyokabi has been attending public functions in the county.
Other leaders like Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru have pledged to champion Raila Odinga’s presidency on condition that the ODM leader provides the region with a powerful slot in his Executive.
Pro-Ruto meetings have also been disrupted in the region, the latest one being in Nyeri where Inua Mama, the pro-Ruto women lobby group, held a meeting this month.
Members of the group of youth chanting pro-Uhuru slogans that disrupted the meeting have not been arrested despite the presence of police officers.
Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu and Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro have also come out to claim they are being persecuted for being Dr Ruto’s allies.