Deputy President William Ruto’s political activities in western Kenya are not a threat, and in fact, “he is welcome to build a home in Luhya land”, says Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi.
Mr Mudavadi said the residents are too smart to be hoodwinked, and are capable of making up their minds on their own.
“You can take this to the bank. His frequent trips to the region will not yield results because western Kenya voters are not for sale. The so-called inroads were made from 2013 to 2017, but what was the result of the 2017 elections?” Mr Mudavadi told the Sunday Nation.
“The vote went to the National Super Alliance, with some computer-assisted leaders coming through on Jubilee tickets.”
He was reacting to Dr Ruto’s apparent political harvests in western Kenya.
Some politicians, including former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale, have decamped to Dr Ruto’s corner.
Others like Trans Nzoia Governor Patrick Khaemba and Likuyani MP Enoch Kibunguchy have opted to “work with the DP for the sake of development”.
National Assembly Majority Whip Ben Washiali and MPs Didmus Barasa (Kimilili), John Waluke (Sirisia), Dan Wanyama (Webuye West) and Mwambu Mabonga (Bumula) are members of the Tangatanga team, which is associated with Dr Ruto.
Mr Mudavadi said the DP is the least of his worries in western. “He is as good as the company he keeps. He’s not building serious political partnerships based on principles,” he said.
He described the decision by a section of politicians to work with Dr Ruto as chaff being separated from the wheat.
He added that “spent forces” are finding their level and personalities who have been divisive are falling by the wayside. “Western Kenya remains solid with committed leaders,” Mr Mudavadi said.
Ford-Kenya Secretary-General Simiyu Eseli was more hostile to Dr Ruto’s political overtures to western Kenya voters.
He said Dr Ruto is “an extremely disrespectful individual who deserves zero support from the region”.
He cited the case of former Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa. “Echesa lacks the academic and managerial capacity to run a ministry. Why would Dr Ruto opt for such a person in a populous community with well-educated individuals, unless of course he holds us in contempt?” Dr Simiyu said.
The Tongaren MP said the trend of Governor Khaemba and other leaders teaming up with Dr Ruto for perks “is tantamount to weaponising development”.
He said leaders from western Kenya are being coerced into submission “unfairly and disrespectfully”.
However, Dr Khalwale paints a different picture. According to him, western Kenya is increasingly warming up to the DP “because residents are fatigued with opposition politics”.
Dr Ruto said the politician who resigned as Ford Kenya’s deputy party leader last weekend, is gaining popularity “because he has a more realistic chance of winning the presidency in 2022” than Mudavadi or Ford-Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula.
On May 11, Mr Waluke said Mr Mudavadi and Mr Wetang’ula “are tool lazy to win the presidency”.
“Mr Mudavadi is sleeping while his competitors are busy traversing the country searching for votes. He should stop complaining about Dr Ruto's early campaigns and hit the road as well,” Mr Waluke said.
The Sirisia MP may have spoken too early.
Except for last weekend’s highly publicised meeting of Kiambu elders and politicians at businessman Nginyo Kariuki’s home, the Sunday Nation has established that Mr Mudavadi has been holding meetings across the country quietly.
In just two weeks, the politician has been to several counties. Before the Kiambu date, he held a meeting with the business community in Thika, just a couple of days after another meeting in Meru.
A week before, Mr Mudavadi was hosted by the Murang’a Catholic Diocese Development forum, which covers Murang’a and Kirinyaga counties.