Anthony Mwangi and Clement Kamau @PeopleDailyKe
The March 9 handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga stabilised the fragile political atmosphere in the country after the hotly contested 2017 poll, but it threw into a spin plans of some of those eyeing the 2022 State House race.
The seismic effects of the handshake have been most felt in the Uhuru-led Jubilee Party, which had in place a near-definite succession plan, with Deputy President William Ruto banking on his boss’ unequivocal support to smoothly sail through to State House.
But the race now appears wide open for Raila, Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi of Amani National Congress(ANC) and other contenders as the President, who was expected to endorse his deputy, was recently quoted saying he will shock Kenyans with his choice for 2022.
And as each of the key contenders strategises on the Uhuru’s 2022 succession race, many are criss-crossing the country with a keen eye on Kiambu, Uhuru’s backyard and vote-rich county.
Although Ruto has made several visits to the area to launch development projects, a move that seems to have won many local leaders into his “Tanga Tanga” bandwagon, others in the race among them Raila and Mudavadi are also determined to woo the locals.
Yesterday, Raila toured Kiambu, but the local leadership including Governor Ferdinand Waititu, Senator Kimani Wamatangi and all the 12 members of National Assembly gave the former premier’s function at Kangoya PCEA church a wide berth despite having been invited.
While Waititu was informed by Raila’s office of the visit, he skipped because he was “not formally invited.” Only Women’s Representative Gathoni Muchomba sent her apologies.
But Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa was categorical that he would not have attended the meeting even if he were aware of it.
He said he was in Garissa where he had accompanied Ruto on a working tour. “President Uhuru and Ruto have asked us to stop politics and focus on development,” he said.
Limuru MP Peter Mwathi said he was not aware of the meeting, while Kiambu Town MP Jude Njomo was said to be out of the country on parliamentary business.
The tour comes after a report by a pollster, Infotrak Kenya, indicated that the handshake between Uhuru and Raila was less appreciated in Mount Kenya region, with only 20 per cent supporting it.
The area is said to be backing Ruto if pledges by local MPs are anything to go by. All Kiambu MPs and Governor Waititu have publicly declared their support for DP’s 2022 bid.
Ruto himself has made numerous trips to the county gracing fundraisers, church and school functions. Last Sunday, he was in Juja where he attended a church function, travelling all the way from Bungoma where he had attended another event.
But Raila and the team that accompanied him downplayed the absence of the local leadership.
His visit to Kiambu county was his first after the handshake. Last week in a visit to Kiambu, Uhuru urged the local people to embrace the handshake, which he said has united the country.
Speakers who accompanied Raila, including Mathare MP Anthony Olouch, James Nyikal (Kisumu Rural) and Tom Odege (Nyatike) hailed the handshake and urged the locals to embrace it.
Others who attended the function include former MP Wavinya Ndeti, former Kiambu Women’s Representative Annah Nyokabi, ODM party secretary-general Edwin Sifuna, former East African Legislative Assembly(Eala) MP Mumbi Ng’aru and businessman Jimmy Wanjigi.
Speaking at the function, Wanjigi said he had forgiven those who had ordered a raid on his residence where a cache of guns were allegedly recovered.
In his address, Raila said the fight against corruption would continue relentlessly, adding that those implicated in the vice should carry their own cross and not drag their tribes into their woes.
The former Prime Minister contributed Sh1 million to the church’s children development centre programme to help orphans and children from poor families.
He criticised leaders claiming their community is being targeted in the ongoing war on graft.
“The fight against corruption will continue and I support the President on this. Those leaders saying that it is only one community being targeted should know that those implicated did it individually and not on behalf of their communities,” said Raila.
The Opposition leader reiterated his supports for the President’s move to reject moves by parliamentarians to increase their salaries warning that if they do it, he would lead in taking the MPs to public court.
Meanwhile, as the 2022 political realignment takes shape, Wiper’s Kalonzo yesterday said he was keeping his options open.
“ There is enough time for political realignments as we gear up for 2022. All options are open and it will be epic,” he said in Busia.
Kalonzo said he served as the Vice President and although the “hot sit” is always a heartbeat to the presidency, the holder is fought constantly.