BLESSED SON

Muturi installation fuels confusion on Uhuru succession in Mt Kenya

Jitters over a possible leadership vacuum have triggered vicious, yet silent machinations

In Summary
  • Uhuru is set to retire in 2022 after serving two constitutional terms, but there are fears that he might leave without a clear heir
  • A part from Muturi, other leaders battling to inherit the President  include Murang'a Governor Mwangi Wa Iria, former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth and Agriculture CS Peter Munya

 

National Assembly Speaker Justice Muturi with Agriculture CS Peter Munya at the Njuri Ncheke event in Meru on Saturday March 6 2021
National Assembly Speaker Justice Muturi with Agriculture CS Peter Munya at the Njuri Ncheke event in Meru on Saturday March 6 2021
Image: Moses Odhiambo

The installation of National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi as the Mt Kenya spokesman has compounded the confusion over President Uhuru Kenyatta's succession.

Uhuru is set to retire  in 2022 after serving two constitutional terms, but there are fears that he might leave without a clear heir.

The jitters over a possible leadership vacuum have triggered vicious, yet silent machinations with politicians jostling to position themselves in the succession matrix.

A part from Muturi, other leaders from Mt Kenya battling to inherit the President in  the region  include Murang'a Governor Mwangi Wa Iria, former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth and Agriculture CS Peter Munya.

Others are The Service Party leader Mwangi Kiunjuri and former Kiambu Governor William Kabogo among others.

Muturi was coronated at an event loaded with political symbolism but which the National Assembly Speaker insists was cultural and not political event.

“The Njuri Ncheke, Kiama Kia Ma from Mt Kenya West, Ngome  and Nyangindiri are not political formations. What we did here was traditional,” Muturi said.

 However, National Assembly Deputy Majority Whip Maoka Maore told the Star that it was wrong for Muturi to organise his coronation knowing well that Uhuru is the region's spokesman.

“Muturi, honestly speaking is misguided and miscalculated,” the Igembe North MP said insisting the ceremony neither had the President's blessings nor signifies cracks in Mt Kenya.

“Moving around and assembling some idle and hungry elders and then purporting to have been bestowed within the leadership of a community is an insult to the position we took in Sagana,” he said.

The MP warned that the installation was disruptive to the President's legacy agenda of uniting the region and rallying behind the Building Bridges Initiative.

“These are theatrics that would have come after we pass BBI. We are now wondering if we would be campaigning to shore up support for Muturi or BBI. These are the things that would complicate our game,” he said.

On Saturday the respected Njuri Ncheke council of elders crowed Muturi as the Mt Kenya spokesman in what analysts say puts him way ahead of the pack of the bigwigs lining up to succeed Uhuru.

In an elaborate ceremony at the Nchiru Shrine in Meru, the elders handed him a spear and a shield.

The ceremony was attended by Munya and the chairman Kenya National Council of Elders captain Kung'u Muigai.

Kung'u who led a delegation of elders from 10 counties in Mt Kenya said the President needed an 'errand' boy he can send to the negotiating table.

“If he (the President)has a message for his people, will he not need someone to send? And if his people have a message, will they not need to know whom they can send?” posed Kung'u.

Muturi becomes the fifth Mt Kenya leader to be crowned by the Njuri Ncheke.

The late President Jomo Kenyatta was the first, following retired President Kibaki, Uhuru, and Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi.

However, the elders let the cat out of the bag on the significance of the installation after they urged Muturi to continue supporting the President until he retires.

“Even for seeds, one has to choose the best carefully and plant the best. This is our best seed and we’re now ready to plant it. Keep it up there with the President, as his term nears the end, support him to the very end, even as we plant this new seed,” the elders said.

Muturi was handed a spear and a shield symbolising that transition.

Kieni MP Kanini Kega downplayed the significance of the installation in respect to Uhuru's succession saying the President still remains the de facto Mt Kenya kingpin and spokesman.

“I think Muturi was crowned as an elder and not the Mt Kenya spokesman, our spokesman is Uhuru and that is not debatable. What Muturi has done is not in conflict with the President,” Kega said.

The chairman of the Budget and Appropriation Committee said the region will settle on Uhuru's heir after he completes his term next year.

'The installation of the region's spokesman will be an elaborate ceremony that we shall undertake in Sagana and it won't be done at Shrines,” he said.

Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu stressed that Mt Kenya is currently under the leadership of Uhuru who is also the region's spokesman. He said like other politicians, Muturi could be positioning himself to succeed the President when he retires and not rival him.

“Our region has only one leader at a time. Right now, that leader is President Uhuru,” he said.

Nominated MP Maina Kamanda claimed that Muturi's installation could have been part of a scheme by Tangatanga to fight Uhuru in his backyard.

"When we were in Sagana we agreed that Uhuru is our spokesman and kingpin and as long as he is alive nobody else can be anointed," Kamanda told the Star.

In what pointed to deep cracks in Mt Kenya over Uhuru's succession matrix, Kamanda said Muturi is trying to undermine the President through the installation.

"Under the Kikuyu culture, a son does not take away his father's seat or matrimonial bed when he is still alive, that is an abomination," Kamanda said.

Speaker Muturi’s coronation is significant and places at the apex of the Mt Kenya East's push for political space by their sisters from central Kenya.

The region is keen on having a leader who will fit in any coalition that will be formed.

Munya, who has been seen as Uhuru's choice for successor in Mt Kenya graced Muturi's moment and congratulated Muturi on his installation.

“He (Muturi) is at home. Whatever news he will leave here, we will sit as Njuri elders and look carefully at his quest,” Munya said.

The CS said talks around the transition of the region’s leadership is a live debate that will continue after the BBI.

“After BBI, we will meet at Sagana to discuss issues of development and leadership of the region,” Munya said.

-Edited by Sarah Kanyara