How long will Uhuru’s gag order to Mt Kenya MPs last?

President Uhuru Kenyatta [Photo: Courtesy]

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday last week read the riot act to MPs from Mt Kenya region. He lambasted them for shifting attention to his succession in 2022 and not focussing on development.

He later told a public meeting in Karatina that he was fully in charge of his succession plan and come 2022, he will make his choice known.... and that it will be a shocker!

It was the first time the president was talking about the issue of who will take over as the region’s titular leader when he exits the scene.

The reality that he does not have a natural successor has generated political tensions in the expansive region.

The tension had been so much so that at some point some mulled over the idea of changing the Constitution to ensure President Uhuru continues as Prime Minister.

But when CNN journalist Richard Quest posed the question to him in an interview, he responded with a categorical “No!”

The impact of the Building Bridges Initiative that was birthed after President Uhuru made peace with his main challenger in the last elections, Nasa’s Raila Odinga, has served to create more anxiety - both among his allies and his deputy William Ruto’s supporters.

Ruto has made several forays into the region in a bid to consolidate his support, but the fact that the president is yet to clearly show his hand despite a pre-2013 pact that Ruto would succeed him when his two terms come to an end, has been another source of anxiety.

In fact, there are claims that the Naivasha meeting was part of attempts to make his stand known amid fears the president may go back on the deal and support someone else, including Raila.

Ruto’s support within the region is also divided, with some declaring they have no debt to repay in 2022. But he has been working hard to inherit the President’s base.

For instance, though his office said they focused on a united approach to development, it is instructive that the DP hosted a delegation of Kiambu leaders at his official residence in Karen, Nairobi on Tuesday this week. It was led by Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu.

According to Prof Macharia Munene who teaches history and international relations at United States International University, the Mt Kenya region is in a dilemma since the two leading politicians after President Uhuru have “trust” issues among its political and business elite, and even among big sections of the electorate.

“Both Raila and Ruto are not good news to the region. The region is not doing very well both politically and economically. What does it portend?

They need someone to show them the way. And the President cannot do that as he is fully occupied at the top serving all Kenyans. They also need to know their leader early enough. They need a leader who has the credibility and capability,” Prof Macharia told The Nairobian.

Raila’s spokesman Dennis Onyango has since clarified that the ODM leader will take a break to concentrate on his new role as AU High Representative in Africa and Building Bridges Initiative though it does not remove him entirely from the post-2022 equation.

Prof Munene says Uhuru was easily elected because he had emerged as such a leader, not because of his father, adding at the moment, there is no such leader. And this is leading to a lot of jostling for the position.

Meanwhile, Senate Deputy Speaker Kithure Kindiki had emerged as the leading candidate to become Ruto’s running mate.

 He at some point traversed the country in a chopper, earning him, Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen and National Assembly Leader of Majority Aden Duale the tag “Sky Team.”

Somewhere along the way, however, the team slowed down its activities after questions were raised over the huge amounts of cash it gave out in harambees.

Describing him as a good man, Prof Munene says Kindiki has what it takes to win the region’s political support.

Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru, Agriculture Cabinet secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri, former Kiambu Governor William Kabogo and former Planning assistant minister Peter Kenneth, have also been cited as possible heirs apparent.

Also being cited is moneyed Kiambu Woman Representative Purity Ngirici, who caused a stir in April during DP Ruto’s tour of the county after she engaged in a showdown with Waiguru.

The governor later asked police to arrest Ngirici for heckling. And just recently, Ngirici sent tongues wagging after launching a Kikuyu TV and radio station.

According to Prof Macharia, the intense politicking in the region is a result of politicians who lost in last year’s election positioning themselves for a comeback. He adds that there is also a feeling that other regions get a bigger share of development projects by making noise.

Without providing proof, the MPs claimed the region contributes 60 per cent of the national GDP, but does not get a fair share of national revenue.

The president was however quick to dismiss them, pointing out that it’s the same MPs who pass the budget.

For now, what remains to be seen is whether the politicking will go down after the president’s dressing down and a reported gag order.

All we know is that we are in for a long wait in getting to know what Uhuru has up his sleeve.

Some say the president is keen not to kick off early campaigns that might jolt implementation of the Big 4 Agenda and his joint unity efforts with Raila.

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