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Wednesday, 2 September 2020

Succession void in Mt Kenya

 

March 2020 closed with four politicians who could claim national clout if they tried hard enough to be visible beyond Mt Kenya. The imminent exit of President Uhuru Kenyatta makes regional succession urgent. Mt Kenya people need a rallying point beyond Kenyatta. A people who have tasted power, lost it for 24 years, and reclaimed it for 20 years, needs a strong persona to manage the consolation prize.

Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru and Peter Kenneth, a former Gatanga MP,  a 2013 presidential candidate and a 2017 Nairobi governor candidate, stood out then as possible coalition planks in the Uhuru Succession.

September opens with Kenneth standing among the initially visible Mt Kenya four. The urbane Kenneth, acclaimed for prudent management of Gatanga National Government Constituency Development Fund when he was MP, is already playing in the top league. The ‘Handshake Alliance’ of Uhuru and ODM leader Raila Odinga is likely to influence succession election in 2022. 

Kenneth is non-controversial and has no divisive ethnic, hawkish inclinations. He is a possible pillar in the post-Building Bridges Initiative dispensation, which he supports.

Former Gichugu MP Martha Karua, a 2013 presidential candidate, a 2017 Kirinyaga governor also-ran, and a former minister in the Kibaki regime has more past than any other politician from the Mountain. But she hardly registers in the Uhuru Succession radar. Karua, a politician with an attitude, has always had a challenge identifying with the right side of history. Two years to the 2022 general election, the former Gichungu MP is yet to anchor her political career in the post-Kenyatta era.

Karua, the rattler of the Moi regime during the last decade of the Nyayo era, starred as a cantankerous enabler of the status quo and a defender of the Establishment when it was opportune.

Karua was among the hawkish politicians who denied Kenya a new constitution within the first 100 days of the Kibaki presidency. Ironically, she was among the ‘Young Turks’ during the struggle for the Second Liberation of the late 1980s and the 1990s.

The promise of a new constitution was a National Rainbow Coalition campaign agenda during the 2002 general election. The promise was realised in 2010, the eighth year of the decade of the Kibaki presidency.

Kagwe's pandemic-induced viability, however, could crash under the weight of questionable management of Covid-19 economics. The so-called Covidbillionaires are extensions of the rot at Afya House.

Kibaki later appointed Uhuru Kenyatta one of two deputy prime ministers under the coalition government he shared with Raila. Spurned Karua resigned to build her own party, Narc-Kenya. She ran for president in 2013 on the Narc-Kenya ticket against Uhuru. She has since been on the losing lane.

The Covid-19 pandemic added Mutahi Kagwe, then weeks old as Health Cabinet Secretary, to the Mt Kenya succession equation. Kagwe, a former Mukurueni MP, a minister in the Kibaki regime and a 2017 Nyeri governor candidate, has a rich past, second only to Kaura. But Kagwe had no platform to market his potential.

Covid-19 changed the visibility arithmetic for Kagwe. Starring daily as the official source of information on World Health Organization protocols – corona testing, infections, deaths, and recoveries – made Kagwe the ‘Corona Man’.  The pandemic-induced viability, however, could crash under the weight of questionable management of Covid-19 economics. The so-called Covidbillionaires are extensions of the rot at Afya House.

To be fair, the ministry was in integrity conundrum long before Kagwe arrived. But how the CS sorts out the mess will determine his standing in national politics and Mt Kenya succession intrigues. Already, critics want him to resign because he does not seem to have the spine to deal with the Mafia of Afya House. His name has been dragged into the messy procurement at the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency.

Waiguru, caught in spats with the Kirinyaga county assembly, hardly has time to build a national profile. Claims of corruption around her and the Senate rescue from the claws of MCAs have not given the governor space to build her clout. The recent Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission raids at her houses and offices have further tarred her image.

Kenneth will need to play the national game to fill the void. Only then shall Mt Kenya know its stake in the Uhuru Succession.

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