Agriculture CS Kiunjuri sack a warning to Central rebels
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s move to fire Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri was aimed at taming rebel legislators and stamping his authority in his restive political backyard.
His immediate approach was two-pronged—sack the central figure of the rebels and address the dwindling fortunes of the agriculture sector, especially tea, coffee and milk sectors to defend his Mount Kenya base and consolidate his legacy.
He also elevated one of his trusted allies, former minister Mutahi Kagwe, who he nominated as Health Cabinet Secretary.
The former Mukurwe-ini MP and Nyeri senator, will take over Kiunjuri’s slot in the Cabinet.
Pundits who spoke to the People Daily yesterday indicated that the President’s decision was also meant not only to cordon off Deputy President William Ruto from the region, where he appeared to have made political inroads, but also stamp his authority in his home turf.
The elevation of Kagwe, analysts argue, could have been a calculated move to tame rebellion not only within Cabinet and Central Kenya at large, but also in Nyeri where Governor Mutahi Kahiga and Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua have been vocal in favour of the DP.
Dr Michael Mugo, former don at Laikipia University, said by sacking Kiunjuri and appointing Kagwe, Uhuru could have dented the former Laikipia East’s lawmaker’s political muscle, and by extension the DP in the region.
“Kiunjuri has been injured politically and because he was one of the people the DP was relying on to propel his political agenda in Laikipia and Central Kenya at large, he (Ruto) has also been injured.
The President is elevating his backers, who have a political clout as the DP people continue becoming irrelevant,” he said.
Kagwe was the master of ceremonies during the President’s Sagana meeting with Mt Kenya leaders last November when DP allies were denied an opportunity to speak.
Ruto has been enjoying backing of a host of vocal leaders from the region under his Tanga Tanga, which Kiunjuri appeared as its leader in the region, and the team has been accused of disrespecting the President as they seek to show that the Head of State has lost control of the region.
But now, Governors Francis Kimemia (Nyandarua), Ndiritu Muriithi (Laikipia), Anne Waiguru (Kirinyaga), Mwangi Wa Iria (Muran’ga) and acting Kiambu Governor James Nyoro are selling Uhuru’s agenda while their Nyeri counterpart appears to be the only one who has regard for the DP political ambitions.
Embattled Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu has been an ally of the DP, but after he was charged in court over graft charges, changed tune but apparently to escape impeachment and court cases. However, he has since been impeached by Kiambu MCAs.
Beside central Kenya, Uhuru has also reached out to Kiraitu Murungi (Meru), Muthomi Njuki (Tharaka Nithi) Martin Wambora (Embu) and Lee Kinyanjui of Nakuru.
Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata, a supporter of the President, said the rebellion in the region has been because the President had never replied to the story being peddled by the DP backers of the who have been trying to paint him in bad light.
“He is now taking charge and making responses. This will definitely make people understand and appreciate his work.
It has been a case of a judge listening to one side. It is now time for the other side to give its version,” he told People Daily, adding that leaders in the region must choose to support Uhuru.
Lawyer and political commentator Ndegwa Njiru yesterday said Uhuru had unknowingly allowed the DP to take over the control of his backyard when he allowed him to man the Jubilee primaries in May 2017.
During the primaries, Njiru said the DP ensured that strong politicians, who can question him in favour of the President did not get the ticket and therefore the region voted greenhorns Ruto had planned to use for his 2022 ambitions.
“When the DP supervised the primaries, he ensure serious politicians who are defenders of the President such as Kabando wa Kabando, Maina Kamanda did not get the must-win ticket.
That is how we ended up with greenhorns such as Rigathi, Kimani Ichung’wa, Ndindi Nyoro and others who are Tanga Tanga members,” said Njiru.
However, the lawyer said there was nothing Uhuru could have done at time because he risked antagonising his re-election bid, but now he has moved to regain control by addressing the economic issues that will build a relationship with the people.
“The President has realised that he had lost his grip and he has moved to regain it through addressing economic grievances and the reshuffling but more has to be done to create a rapport with the people by ensuring all he promised is implemented,” said Njiru.
Murang’a county has been the hot bed of the DP’s rebellion, led by MPs Alice Wahome (Kandara), Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu) and Mary Waithira (Maragwa), and until recently area Governor Wa Iria was seen to be a Ruto ally.
But this week, he appeared to have changed tune when he warned DP’s backers against doing anything that appears to disrespect the President within the county.
“I am issuing a warning, if you insult him (president), my supporters and I hall deal with you politically,” said wa Iria.