Could major changes in government—including possible accommodation of the Opposition in a unity administration—be in the offing?
That is the question in the air as President Uhuru Kenyatta retreated to a solo working holiday at the Coast amid claims of fallout with his deputy William Ruto and disquiet within the ruling Jubilee Party following the March 9 Handshake with Opposition leader Raila Odinga.
Series of events would appear to be giving substance to some of the speculations; reports the Cabinet has not met for over one month, unannounced strategic meetings with Raila, a meeting with former President Moi, all amid persistent reports of isolation of Ruto.
People Daily has learned that the President has camped in Mombasa for slightly over a week in what some observers say is to ponder new political step to fortify his government against potential fallouts and consequences within Jubilee and possible tectonic political shifts and appointments to accommodate opposition figures.
It has emerged the ongoing corruption purge could see a number of Cabinet secretaries fall.
“There will be no witch-hunt. CSs that will be found culpable of graft will be dropped and replaced, but this is something that will take time,” said a source who sought anonymity.
Uhuru is said to be consulting widely, prompting his meeting with Moi with whom, it is said he tends to turn to before making any major political decisions.
At the same time, the Head of State is said to be keen on wooing the support of all Nasa co-principals
However, an ardent supporter of DP Ruto, Mumias East MP Ben Washiali, who is also government Chief Whip in the National Assembly, says should there be a move to form a government of national unity, they have put in place strategies to fight for the DP.
“We are not worried and are ready for the fight. This talk of some people being out to isolate Ruto is baseless. We have the numbers and strategies in place to fight,” he said.
But a close ally of the President who did not wish at this stage to be identified ruled out possibility of far-reaching Cabinet reshuffle, saying the current formation has only been in place for three months.
He, however, was unequivocal that anybody implicated in graft will be kicked out of government.
The new revelations came barely three days after Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka pledged to work with the government and to support Uhuru’s Big Four agenda as well as the fight against graft.
In what appears to be a well-choreographed strategy to rope in major Opposition leaders, Kalonzo reached out to his Ford Kenya counterpart Moses Wetang’ula yesterday.
At the same time, Uhuru has moved to galvanise Luhya support for his administration, using Raila as a gateway to Western region and to help assure the region of the gains of Handshake and the Building Bridges initiative.
It is on that premise that Raila held a meeting yesterday with elected Luhya leaders across the political divide as he embarks on marshalling support for Uhuru’s government and came amid growing disquiet among politicians who have felt excluded from the Handshake equation, with Wetang’ula particularly unrelenting.
Yesterday, Raila assured the Western political leaders the region has not been left out of the deal as he disclosed details of the Handshake with sources present at the meeting intimating to People Daily that Raila promised far-reaching changes in the government that will benefit the region.
“The Opposition leader was basically trying to bring us to speed about some of the changes that are going to happen that will accommodate our interests,” said our source.
And it was at this point that the President is said to have made a call to Raila who in turn put on speaker phone to give credence to his sentiments and dispel any fears of isolation.
Speaking after the meeting Raila confirmed they had talked about the Handshake and political situation in the country.
“We talked about development, social issues, infrastructure, industries and agriculture in the region,” he said.
And in what affirms his commitment to the region and woo leaders for support, Uhuru will preside over this year’s Mashujaa Day celebrations in Kakamega on October 20. Next week, the President will meet Luhya MPs at State House, Nairobi to discuss the Building Bridges initiative and seek support for his administration.
Yesterday, leaders led by Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya reiterated support for the Handshake and efforts to bring unity and economic prosperity to the country. “We have talked about various issues affecting the region and have agreed to work together for the sake of unity of the country. As leaders we support the handshake,” he said.
Oparanya’s increasing role in Raila’s engagements is a sign the former premier could be fronting the governor as his political pointman in Western.
Oparanya said the leaders will continue to engage the President and the Opposition leader on various issues affecting the region.
Elsewhere, although disguised as continued effort to calm the rising discord between ODM and Ford Kenya, Kalonzo reached out to Wetang’ula to have him endorse the Handshake and comes amid speculations the Bungoma senator has been warming up to Ruto following his fallout with Raila and his ouster as the Leader of Minority in the Senate.
Musyoka hosted Wetang’ula for the first time in the new Wiper headquarters where they held lengthy discussions.
While addressing a conference at Strathmore University, Musyoka assured that he will mediate to bring Raila Odinga and Wetang’ula together to avert a looming Nasa split.