Jubilee factions turn Central into battlefield, even literally

Monday, September 16th, 2019 00:00 |
Deputy President William Ruto (centre) with Tanga Tanga-allied politicians Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu (left) and Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa. Photo/File

Political intolerance is finding a home in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Central region home turf, which has previously been known for relatively calm political competition, as rivals incite supporters into confrontations.

A week after the confrontation between Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro and Nominated MP Maina Kamanda at a church in Murang’a, yesterday the latter and Laikipia Women Rep Catherine  Waruguru, were engaged in altercation at another church.

Only this time the two politicians from the opposing Kieleweke and Tanga Tanga factions of Jubilee did not meet face to face. 

Kamanda spoke at the AIPCA Church in Nanyuki, Laikipia county and left moments before Waruguru arrived with youths allegedly with the intention of ejecting the Kieleweke politician from the church.

 Battle lines have been drawn between MPs allied to Uhuru and those who support his deputy William Ruto. The division is linked to 2022 succession politics, the Handshake and jostling to succeed the President as regional kingpin.

Activities of the political groups have whipped the region into a campaign mode and sparked chaos, at least six times in three months, even as pressure mounts on the President to tame the politicians.

Four groups

Regional Commissioner Wilfred Nyagwanga confirmed that security teams are monitoring the situation with a view to taking action against the culprits.

“Leaders will have to be tolerant. We will not condone any acts of violence from whichever side even if it means arresting them because no one is above the law,” Nyagwanga told People Daily, adding that they are also looking into theories that the chaos is sponsored.   

On September 8, Nyoro and his supporters were reported to have stormed Gatui Catholic Church where the Kieleweke team was invited for a funds drive, and insisted on taking over the programme “because it’s Nyoro’s constituency”.  

Kieleweke politicians among them Maina Kamanda (centre) and Ngunjiri Wambugu (with microphone) at a past meeting. PD/FILE

At the centre of the battles are four groupings – Kieleweke and Embrace believed to be allied to Uhuru and Tanga Tanga and Inua Mama, which are associated with Ruto. 

There are concerns that unless tamed, the politicians’ actions could lead to violence in the region.

While the groupings have membership from across the country, three of them are led by leaders from Central Kenya, while the fourth has some of its faces of defiance from the region.

Kieleweke and Embrace, which have been backing the State, are led by Kamanda and Kirinyaga Governor Ann Waiguru, respectively while Inua Mama, which champions the DP’s agenda, is headed by Kandara MP Alice Wahome.

Uhuru’s calls for an end to early 2022 campaigns have fallen on deaf ears as the rival groups continue to crisscross the region where one side is backing Ruto’s presidential bid, while the other is preaching the opposite.

So bad are the differences that some leaders, despite having been elected on the same party ticket, are not talking to one another, while others are accusing their rivals of using State machinery to fight them.   

Last Sunday, Wahome claimed some State functionaries were being assembled by Kieleweke to deal with Tanga Tanga politicians in Central Kenya.

“I am aware of a meeting held last weekend and went up to 1am, and was led by a very senior businessman, a PS and two other people…they discussed that we must be crashed in whatever way including death,” she said.

Nyoro also claimed Kieleweke was enjoying financing and protection from Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and his PS Karanja Kibicho.

But while Tanga Tanga members indirectly point an accusing figure at the President over their woes, Kieleweke is accusing Ruto of financing the defiance and political hooliganism in his boss’s backyard.

Kamanda, who denied leading a plot against Tanga Tanga, claims there was a clear motive by Ruto’s camp to disrupt the Murang’a church meeting to prevent them from delivering their message.

“What that young man (Nyoro) did was a deliberate aggression aimed at disrupting the service to which he had not been invited. He wanted to please his master.  It was very wrong, why not just allow people to speak and go?” posed Kamanda.

The Nominated MP said they have visited several constituencies represented by MPs allied to Tanga Tanga while the latter have also been visiting areas represented by Kieleweke leaders, without chaotic incidents being witnessed.

In July, Senate Leader of Majority Kipchumba Murkomen, Deputy Speaker Kithure Kindiki and other pro-Ruto leaders were at Africa Independent Pentecostal Church of Africa in Gatanga where they tore into the Kieleweke team.

Though area MP Nduati Ngugi, who is allied to Kieleweke, was present, it was the Kandara MP of Tanga Tanga who was in charge of the programme.

Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu has dismissed claims that Kieleweke is misusing the police in their wars with Tanga Tanga. 

Kiunjuri ejection

“We are MPs like them. Which powers can I have over the police which they don’t have,” he posed.  

Ngunjiri himself has in the past been accused of disrupting two meetings in his constituency and Tanga Tanga leaders have demanded his arrest.

In late June, a group of people said to Kieleweke supporters chased Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri and Nyeri Woman Rep Rahab Mukami from a function at Gatitu, Nyeri, where the CS was scheduled to launch a water project.

Days later, an Inua Mama event in Nyeri Town was interrupted by people believed to be Ngunjiri’s supporters. 

Three months ago, people believed to be Wahome backers nearly disrupted a service that was attended by the Kieleweke team at ACK Mairungi church in Kandara.

Police intervened and brought the service to order after youth jeered Kiambu Woman Rep Gathoni Wamuchomba, who had accused Wahome of insulting her during a Tanga Tanga visit in her county.    

Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata, who has taken a neutral stand, said the President should reach out to the ground and “bring politicians back to their senses”.

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