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Will rewarding anti-Ruto team change tide in Mt Kenya?

Analysts say appointment of Kieleweke politicians to State jobs was a rebuke of Tanga Tanga team

Anthony Mwangi @PeopleDailyKe

The recent appointment of politicians who lost in the last general election to head State corporations could change the political landscape in Central Kenya.

Most of the appointees belong to the so-called Team Kieleweke, which is opposed to Deputy President William Ruto’s succeeding President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Their elevation has been interpreted as aimed at countering the weight of the pro-Ruto camp, popularly known as Tanga Tanga team, in the region.

Political analysts Peter Kagwanja and Herman Manyora say the appointments were a clear rebuke of the Tanga Tanga team by the President.

“For now, the appointments may have no effect. But the message has been conveyed that Uhuru is prepared to hit the Ruto team hard,” said Manyora.

Manyora said that while a majority of Mt Kenya politicians are currently with Ruto, few of them would survive if Uhuru were to decide to crack the whip on them.

Kagwanja said the appointments would embolden the Kieleweke team who now feel that the President is listening to them, but would not change the political standing of the appointees in the region. “The move by President Uhuru Kenyatta is like taking a painkiller. The problem will only be delayed but it remains,” said Kagwanja. He said Uhuru would have to make a more drastic move if he hopes to change the political tide in his home turf.

Early campaigns

Nominated MP Maina Kamanda, who has emerged as the figurehead of the Keileweke team, said the appointments were a reward for politicians who had heeded Uhuru’s call to shun early 2022 campaigns and concentrate on development.

“All my members have been appointed to State positions and many more are coming,” said the former Starehe MP.

But even as the former MPs celebrate their new fortune, Ruto’s allies say the appointment of their competitors had emboldened their resolve to back Ruto’s candidature in the 2022 election.

The legislators, however, say giving State jobs to the election losers was a slap in the face to the electorate. “I am dismayed. How can they appoint all my opponents to State offices even after I tried as much as I could to be neutral?” said Murang’a senator Irungu Kang’ata.

Kanga’ta was referring to his apparent non-alignment to both the Tanga Tanga and Kieleweke teams.

Among those who benefited in the recent parastatal appointments are former MPs Jamleck Kamau and Joshua Toro and former Murang’a Senator Kembi Gitura.

Gitura lost to Kang’ata in the last election while Kamau and Toro are planning to vie for the Murang’a governor seat in the 2022 election, the same seat Kang’ata is eyeing.

The appointments appeared to have been crafted to target the vocal members of the Ruto group.

For instance, in Mathira where MP Rigathi Gachagua is a staunch supporter of the DP, the man he trounced in the last election, Peter Weru, was appointed member of the Competition Authority Board.

Counterweight

Observers say Toro, who is the new head of the National Irrigation Board, was appointed to tame outspoken Kandara MP Alice Wahome, while former Dagoretti MP Dennis Waweru, who was named to chair Kenya Investments Authority board, is meant to counter his successor, John Kiarie (KJ), who is in the pro-Ruto camp.

In Kiharu constituency, where MP Ndindi Nyoro is a Ruto-diehard, his opponent Karanja Mburu was appointed to the Lapsset board while in Maragua constituency, Elias Mbau, who lost to Mary Waithira in the 2017 poll, has been appointed to head the Nepad/APRM. Waithera has vowed to stick to the Ruto camp.

Toro said Uhuru rewarded the Kieleweke team for standing with Kenyans and fighting for them “unlike others who buy support with handouts”.

Murang’a Women Rep Sabina Chege, who is also said to be eyeing the Murang’a governor seat, has grown lukewarm towards the Ruto camp of which she identified with more openly in the past.

She now says she belongs to a new team calling itself Team Kenya. Some of the politicians in the Kieleweke camp who lost in the last election have accused Ruto of influencing Jubilee nominations in the 2017 election in favour of his allies.

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