• The President has been pushing the national unity agenda but now appears to be more worried about the political unity of his Mt Kenya backyard.
• The bravery and sheer determination exhibited by Team Tanga Tanga to instal DP Ruto as the next president is unbridled and unprecedented.
For two weeks, Kenyans expressed their displeasure and worry at the unusual absence of their President from the limelight.
They are used to an almost omnipresent leader who graces their television screens every news hour. A President whose picture is Page One in the major dailies. A leader who issues daily edicts through the national and FM radio stations.
This omnipresence was ominously missing since President Uhuru Kenyatta travelled to China for the Belt and Road Initiative Conference.
However, State House communication officials curiously chose to relay this visit as another SGR loan signing agreement by the President, this time accompanied by Raila Odinga. Before the duo returned, an announcement was made that the SGR loan for the Kisumu phase was not approved by China.
Spirits were dampened in the lakeside region and the anti-handshake brigade was beside itself with glee. Raila returned earlier than Uhuru and was received by the ODM leadership at JKIA, ostensibly to brief him on happenings while he was away.
Then uncharacteristically, without the usual fanfare, the President jetted back into the country and it was only days later that many knew he was around. As speculation was rife as to why China refused to lend Kenya more cash for the Kisumu phase of the Chinese-built SGR, Uhuru remained uncharacteristically silent and absent.
It was left to Raila and government officials to explain his whereabouts. During their absence, the Kieleweke and Tanga Tanga teams had dug in as their war of words escalated. Then came the demand by one of the leaders of Gema to Uhuru to declare his stand on 2022 succession. Expectedly the President did not respond.
These events point to a gloomy future for Uhuru’s hegemonic leadership of Central Kenya. In his Tuesday column in this paper, Machel Waikenda warned Kikuyu MPs against the dangers of disrespecting Uhuru. That he found it necessary to extol the virtues of tribal unity at this crucial time points to a difficult period in Kikuyuland.
Uhuru has been pushing the national unity agenda but now appears to be more worried about the political unity of his Mt Kenya backyard. Kiambu Woman Rep Gathoni Wamuchomba had earlier warned unnamed MPs against their intended impeachment of Uhuru.
Although her Murang’a counterpart, Sabina Chege, dismissed her claims as outrageous, there was more than meets the eyes. It appears as if Kiambu is getting worried about the activities of their Murang’a sibling. Murang’a has the highest concentration of Tanga Tanga political and religious leaders outside of the Rift Valley. Their leaders have been at the forefront in shaping the political realignments around Deputy President William Ruto's 2022 presidential bid.
Almost all the elected leaders in this county owe some gratitude to the DP for their Jubilee nominations. They have also been comparatively more liquid and generous to a fault. The bravery and sheer determination exhibited in their quest to instal Ruto as the next president is unbridled and unprecedented. They have more or less carted a good chunk of the Mt Kenya political bloc to Sugoi.
Nor has the DP disappointed. He has stood firmly and publicly with his Central Kenya lieutenants whenever they face adversities. When Governor Ferdinand Waititu had a comically rough time at the Senate PAIC session, the DP was at hand to offer a shoulder to lean on. That was a clear demonstration that whatever the circumstances, Ruto will be there for you.
Two other governors had previously benefitted from such a public display of warm political affection under similar situations. Other than a regular supply of funds for operations, supporters need this kind of assurance in their political dealings. Working with the DP has been more profitable and secure for the Tanga Tanga team in Mt Kenya.
On the other hand, Uhuru has been relying on state infrastructure to lure and compel obedience. He has deployed institutional wherewithal to demand loyalty from kith and kin. He holds parliamentary meetings in State House while his deputy meets grassroots delegations at his rural and Karen homes.
The President prefers to engage formally except with Raila and this does not endear him to his tribesmen. Conversely, political wheeler-dealers would rather engage informally and strike agreements outside the glare of public attention.
The President is intent on focussing on his legacy, which has had the effect of isolating those seeking to build their political careers.
His legacy is under threat, however, because of inadequate resources to implement the Big Four agenda. His truce with Raila has brought the much-needed tranquillity for faster economic growth.
However, the economic growth figures recently presented by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics are not consistent with reality and do not resonate with the public. His officers have facts to prove that the economy is growing at a pleasing rate of six per cent yet citizens cannot afford the commodities basic to their livelihoods.
The last time the economy grew at these rates was under the Narc administration and Kenyans remember the boom they enjoyed.
Uhuru is thus surrounded by political leaders who are not enthusiastic about his agenda. Worse, many of them do not care about the outcome of his second and final term. In Machiavellian politics, these are courtiers who would sell their king for a song to save their skins.
The other flank that has been weakened is the civil service. His Cabinet Secretaries seem to be united in the push for the attainment of the Big Four agenda. However, the fight against corruption has affected their collective enthusiasm. Some feel that the war is selective, targeted and weaponised. This has filtered down to the rank and file of civil service.
As has been noted elsewhere, civil servants are the architects who design, construct and profit from corruption. They will, therefore, do anything to sabotage the anti-graft war. Granted that corruption has patrons and purveyors in all strata of society, it is the middle class who regularly conspire to embed graft in government revenue and expenditure design. The middle class in developing countries is largely comprised of senior civil servants. They work in cahoots with tenderpreneurs to establish the Comprado Bourgeoisie.
The KRA staff response to the latest arrests at Times Tower is a glimpse into the growing resistance of the civil service to the corruption purge. The loss of his political bedrock to Tanga Tanga and the resurgence of the civil service as a hotbed of corruption should be a serious cause for worry.
The twin challenges have put the President in a dilemma and pushed him to the wall. He must fight back to restore sanity and discipline in the civil service as well as bring order and steadfast loyalty in his political backyard.
Alternatively, the political forces ganging up against him will not hesitate to lynch and crucify him.