With his long-awaited tour of Mount Kenya region on the cards, President Uhuru Kenyatta is on a charm offensive to win over a disgruntled electorate protesting alleged abandonment by his administration.
People Daily reliably established the President had instructed Cabinet Secretaries and Principal Secretaries in the region to work with local leaders to spearhead the development agenda.
The move has been widely viewed as calculated to suppress agitation by a section of elected leaders and consolidate support for the Head of State in his backyard ahead of his planned visit.
The date for Uhuru’s tour remains unclear, as local administration and his handlers appear keener on securing total support from residents and quelling political dissent ahead of the visit.
However, sources, say the visit could be in two weeks, starting with Murang’a county.
The move is persuaded by chasms that have recently emerged within the ruling Jubilee Party, resulting in Tanga Tanga and Kieleweke factions, allied to, and opposed to, President and Deputy President William Ruto, respectively.
CSs and PSs, mostly from the region, have been leaving the comfort of their Nairobi offices to meet leaders in counties in Mt Kenya region to articulate the President’s agenda and popularise projects under their dockets.
Regional and county commissioners, who serve as the Executive’s eyes on the ground, have similarly been roped into the meetings.
Last weekend, ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru and Lands PS Nicholas Muraguri held a three-hour meeting with elected leaders from Nyeri county at the Regional Commissioner’s office.
Mucheru confirmed the President had mandated them to work with elected leaders, especially MPs, with a view to end the notion that Uhuru had neglected the region.
“Cabinet secretaries and top (government) officials have been directed to reach out to elected leaders (in the region) and identify gaps in development with a view of ironing out such issues given that he (President Uhuru) cannot be everywhere,” said Mucheru.
As Mucheru toured Nyeri, his Trade counterpart, Peter Munya, who emerged as one of the fiercest critics of Ruto, was in Meru for “public development meetings”.
Mid-last month, Transport CS James Macharia led a delegation of elected leaders and parastatal heads to inspect the construction of the 47-kilometre Uplands-Githunguri-Ruiru Road in Kiambu where he also announced the funding of more multibillion projects in the county.
Sources have revealed to People Daily that during the Nyeri meeting, Mucheru told the leaders that the President was unhappy with some of them for portraying the region as abandoned and “one without a political kingpin”.
He urged the leaders “to read from the same script” and show respect for the President.
Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga, who has reportedly been leaning towards the Ruto camp, said the meeting served to bring all leaders “in order that we forge a common front”.
The President himself has not hidden his anger over the way some leaders from the region have been operating.
In June, at a prayer meeting in Kasarani, an enraged Uhuru expressed displeasure over Mt Kenya region’s failure to speak in one voice. He promised to deal with the political rebels, whom he labelled wakora (sly).
“Let them not think they can intimidate me. I will remove them from where they normally go, just wait and see,” he said.
Cracks among leaders in Mt Kenya region, which has approximately 4.4 million registered voters, has lately degenerated into a full-scale political combat with elected leaders split right down the middle over their support for Uhuru and his deputy.
The DP’s allies have accused the President of targeting Ruto in the anti-graft war, allegedly to scuttle the DP’s presidential bid.
On the other hand, politicians allied to the President accuse the DP of paying some Mt Kenya leaders to disparage the Head of State.
The goal of Tanga Tanga, Kieleweke team claims, is to confuse and incite the electorate against the President to sell the notion that Uhuru is losing grip of the region ahead of his exit from power in 2022.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Kikuyu Council of Elders, Wachira Kiago, says the CSs’ meetings are the only way to end discord in the region.
“This will help calm tempers, foster development and make the electorate happy,” he says.
Woman Rep Gathoni wa Muchomba (Kiambu), who identifies with the Kieleweke camp, was non-committal on whether such meetings were aimed at calming the situation. She, however, hinted that similar meetings were scheduled for Kiambu.
Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata, who maintains the President is still politically strong in the region, observes that while CSs may not help much politically, such meetings have the backing of the people “whose primary interest is development, not politics”.
According to Kang’ata, President Kenyatta has already silenced most of his detractors, courtesy of the war on graft.
The Senator says the arrest of Treasury CS Henry Rotich, PS Kamau Thugge and Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu, who is an ally of Ruto, has sent out a strong message to opponents.
But a Nyeri MP allied to Tanga Tanga says Harambee House has run short of ideas after it became apparent it was becoming increasingly impossible for the Kieleweke to rally locals to attend a presidential rally.
The MP said a top State official had been misleading the President that the Tanga Tanga team was fighting him and advised against holding rallies in the region.
The MP claimed the State official even prevailed upon Kieni MP Kanini Kega to organise a function where Uhuru would have handed over equipment to local polytechnics, but the MP protested that he was not in a position to raise the numbers.
A section of DP allies in the region, among them Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro and his Kandara counterpart Alice Wahome, claim they have been targeted for negative propaganda.
“I have information some bloggers have been engaged to start running negative stories about us from tomorrow, and in my case touching on the period I served chairman of the CDF kitty for Hon Kang’ata. This is supposed to culminate in some sort of arrest next week,” Nyoro wrote on his Facebook page on July 23.
Nonetheless, the aggressiveness in the region previously exhibited by Tanga Tanga team led by Waititu, and Nyoro, Wahome, Kimani Ichung’wa (Kikuyu), Rigathi Gachagua (Mathira) and Cate Waruguru (Laikipia Woman Rep) has since died down. —Ådditional reporting by Anthony Mwangi