Githinji Mwangi and Seth Onyango @PeopleDailyKe
Kirinyaga county is reclaiming its former dubious distinction as a political powder keg as its two top leaders continue to go for each other’s jugular.
Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru and Women’s Representative Purity Ngirici have again set the stage for a showdown, after they were involved in a public spat last Friday when Deputy President William Ruto toured the county. And yesterday, Waiguru vowed not to allow Ngirici to undermine her administration, promising to deal with her decisively to ensure she crushes her politically.
The hostility between the two rekindles memories of early 1980s when two MPs, then Kanu supremos from former Kirinyaga district, Nahashon Njuno (Kirinyaga East) and James Njiru (Ndia, now Kirinyaga Central), both deceased, fought supremacy battles in Parliament and outside.
The two rivals fought physically in Parliament and were involved in two brawls in Kerugoya town where guns were drawn. The then President Moi sacked Njuno from the Health docket in which he was an assistant minister after it was reported he shot at Njiru, then a Cabinet minister.
In the current standoff, Ruto reprimanded Waiguru and Ngirici for engaging in unnecessary political rivalry that might derail development in the county. But, yesterday, Waiguru declared she would not allow Ngirici to humiliate her again in public. The war of words between the two followed the incident where Waiguru was booed and heckled in the Ruto rally, an incident she attributed to Ngirici.
I will not allow anybody to issue threats or utter insults. I am ready to face my adversaries head-on,” said the governor. Speaking at Kagio township where she launched construction of cabro paving of side-roads and parking space, Waiguru said she was not a coward and would defend her administration.
She was accompanied by her deputy Peter Ndambiri, several MCAs, Senator Charles Kibiru and Central Regional Commissioner Wilson Njega. The governor said she was undeterred by insults hurled at her by youths during Ruto’s visit.
“Those who think they can weaken me by hurling insults at me are mistaken. I have endured a lot of insults and name-calling when I was a Cabinet secretary for Devolution and it didn’t shake me,’’ she said. “Some people think that I got this seat on a silver platter.
No! It has been a long struggle which has taken me through rough paths and terrain. So to me their war against me is like a drop in the sea.” Waiguru defended herself against accusations that she had also hired youths to heckle Ngirici, asserting she was busy serving the people of Kirinyaga.
She has accused her opponent of inciting residents not to pay rates and rent to the county government in a desperate bid to sabotage her administration, terming the move ill-advised.
She has also accused bar owners of plotting to stage demonstrations in the county to protest what they are terming harsh requirements on alcohol business spelt out by the county government.
The governor said business people must comply with the Alcohol and Beverages Act passed by County Assembly.
On her part, Ngirici at the weekend denial being behind the heckling incident, saying: “We are dismayed by the statement attributed to the governor and wish to say we were at no time involved in the planning of the disruption.”
She told Waiguru not to engage in sideshows and instead implement the development projects she promised Kirinyaga people during campaign period.
Waiguru’s administration has been viewing Ngirici suspiciously after the Women’s Rep lunched a rescue team modelled on a similar outfit by Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko. She is seen as using it for early campaigns to challenge Waiguru in 2022.
Njega said police are investigating the heckling incident. “We want to warn youths that they will have themselves to blame. We will deal ruthlessly with any person who tries to cause chaos in this county,” he said.