In an act of defiance, 11 bishops from the Mt Kenya region will host Deputy President William Ruto in Murang’a on Saturday.
The bishops have organised an interdenominational prayer rally in which Dr Ruto is expected to lead nearly 150 leaders for the prayer rally in Kenol, Murang’a County.
The meeting, on the one hand, coming in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s backyard days after he left with ODM leader Raila Odinga to China to borrow money for the extension of the SGR project, has set tongue’s wagging.
Being Dr Ruto’s eighth trip to the region in the last three months, his strategy of wresting control from his competitors come 2022 could be in the works.
On the other hand, it is telling that bishops have defied their leaders on keeping off politics and desisting from taking money from politicians.
The meeting has been organised by the bishops' forum that is made up of Chairperson Stephen Maina of the Full Time Winners Gospel Church, Catholic Bishop James Maria Wainaina (Muranga) and ACK Diocese of Mt Kenya Central’s Timothy Gichere.
Others are Murang’a South ACK bishop Julius Karanu, Thika’s Julius Wanyoike, AIPCA Archbishop John Njoroge, Gilbert Maina of EAPC and the Reverend John Mwati of PCEA.
Bishop Maina said the prayers will focus on national cohesion and integration and praying for Dr Ruto who has been under “undue criticism and opposition” from some quarters.
Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro, a close ally of Dr Ruto, confirmed his attendance.
"It's a prayer and thanksgiving Saturday. Nothing much, we don’t know at what time he will attend but the event starts at 10am to 2pm," Mr Nyoro said.
However, Dr Ruto’s spokesman said the only event in his diary was the Jonathan Moi's funeral slated for Saturday.
"The only thing we have in our diary is the funeral of Jonathan. I am not aware of anything else," he said.
But Bishop Maina claimed to have talked to Dr Ruto himself and that his men had visited Kimorori grounds where the rally would be held, saying there were no doubts Dr Ruto would be there.
"I personally talked to the DP and he assured me he will be attending. Mr Nyoro and Mr Farouk Kibet (DP Ruto’s aide) joined me to inspect the grounds," he told the Nation.
Political pundits have interpreted Dr Ruto's frequent visits to Murang'a as a plan to use it as an entry point to winning President Kenyatta’s Mt Kenya backyard support.
"Mr [Daniel] Moi did not support the late George Saitoti, his Vice President, for the Presidency, while Mr Mwai Kibaki did not endorse Kalonzo Musyoka for the Presidency. Dr Ruto could be using this theory to seek his own votes even in Mt Kenya region where President Kenyatta’s dominance is felt," Mr Allan Mugachi told the Nation.
On queries over Dr Ruto’s source of money which he has been donating in churches, Bishop Maina slammed Mr Odinga for trying to malign DP’s generosity for political machinations and witch hunt.
He strongly condemned Anglican Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit proposal of banning church fundraisers, whereby politicians allegedly donate money acquired dubiously.
“We know very well that Dr Ruto has been targeted on the war on corruption with his generous contributions in church, and Mr Odinga is trying to coin the issue for his political gain,” Bishop Maina claimed.
He said the forum was solidly behind ACK Bishop Gichere’s assertion that they will continue receiving money from politicians until they were declared guilty by the courts of law.
“The church is not a house of saints. Demanding to know the source of money from any leader before contributing to church on claims of corruption is uncouth, foolish, unbiblical.
The Bishop told the Nation that they will summon Murang’a MPs and advise them to support Dr Ruto, and thereafter seek an audience with President Kenyatta to remind him that "he does not seek unity by disuniting some communities".
The mega rally for the DP seems to bring rifts in the church, as the ACK and the Catholic Church heads have cautioned their churches against accepting ‘corrupt money’ and allowing leaders to insult each other in church.
Some of the leaders expected at the rally include Murang’a Senator Irungu Kangata, Maragua MP Mary Waithira, Kandara MP Alice Wahome and at least 150 leaders who belong to the faction in Jubilee allied to Dr Ruto.
However, Mr Kangata was quick to add that he will be attending the rally by virtue of being a host Senator.
“By virtue of being the area Senator and the DP is coming to my county, I will attend,” he said.