Inside Politics

Gachagua has turned against Mt Kenya – Azimio

Wednesday, June 7th, 2023 04:37 | By
Gachagua has turned against Mt Kenya – Azimio
Former Murang’a Governor Mwangi Wa Iria addresses a press conference at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation headquarters in Nairobi on Monday. PHOTO/Robin Kisavi

The supremacy war in Mount Kenya is intensifying as Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua strives to stamp his authority as the region’s kingpin.

Being the highest-ranking member of the community in government, Gachagua has promised the region that he will ensure their interests are protected by the Kenya Kwanza administration.

But Gachagua faces growing resistance from several politicians in the Opposition alliance, the Azimio la Umoja Coalition, in his quest to control the region.

During a press conference in Nairobi on Monday, the politicians accused Gachagua of failing to address  the challenges facing the region, particularly in the agriculture and business sectors.

His critics say he is yet to initiate any meaningful interventions to guarantee profitability in the coffee, tea and milk sub-sectors which are the main economic activities of the five counties in the Mt. Kenya region.

Finance Bill

They say the sectors are riddled with cartels and middlemen who are the main beneficiaries of the sales of farm produce at the expense of farmers.

During the Azimio press conference at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation headquarters, the leaders cast aspersions at his claims that he is a scion of Mau Mau freedom fighters.

They also pointed at the controversial Finance Bill which proposes the introduction of several taxes, saying that if passed the bill would burden farmers, workers and the business community, contrary to what Gachagua promised in the 2022 election campaign.

They also accused Gachagua profiling the youth in the Mt Kenya region by associating them with the outlawed Mungiki sect.

The leaders, who included Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua, former governors Mwangi Wa Iria (Murang’a), Ndiritu Muriithi (Laikipia), former Nyeri Deputy Governor Carolyne Karugu, former MPs Jeremiah Kioni (Ndaragwa), Wangari Mwaniki (Kigumo) and Peter Mwathi (Limuru) urged the Deputy President to stop vilifying the region’s youth.

At a recent public event, the DP said the government will deal ruthlessly with gangs, singling out the Mungiki sect.

This was after supporters of former Mungiki leader Maina Njenga accompanied him to the DCI headquarters to weeks ago to record a statement in relation to weapons allegedly recovered in his house.

Reacting to the incident, Gachagua warned that the government will not allow the resurgence of the sect whose majority of members were youth from Mountain region.

“There is no way this criminal gang will be allowed to operate anywhere in this country. The government is aware of their history characterised by heinous acts of murder, rape, circumcising women and extorting money from the public,” Gachagua said.

But on Monday, former Laikipia Governor Muriithi accused the government of associating the region’s youth with the outlawed sect with the intention of muzzling them so that they can be “governable”.

Hiti ndiri yaria mwana, no ingienda kuria mwana yugaga mwana ucio ahana ta mburi. (The hyena has never eaten its child but when it does, it says the child smells like a goat),” Muriithi said.

He warned that the profiling of the youth could result in a wave of extrajudicial killings.

Wa Iria said there was growing concern among leaders about what was happening in the region.

“Some of us have stood our ground and said that we have to speak out because we have analyzed our past and can tell what the future holds for us. Eight months ago we were being celebrated and our youth were being glorified as mighty hustlers and that’s how the current government came to be. Our worry is how the same youth have turned, within six months, into thugs and gangsters, murderers, Mungiki and drunkards,” Wa Iria said.

Past atrocities

He said the community was yet to heal from past atrocities where the youth were killed after being linked to the sect.

“Young people went missing and some people are celebrating that today. Between 2004 and 2009, our youth were killed under the disguise of Mungiki and Gachagua said very clearly that it will happen again. That is a threat to our youth. Enough is enough. No one is going to spill any blood from any of our young people,” Wa Iria added.

Jubilee Party Secretary General Jeremiah Kioni said the controversial Finance Bill would hurt businesses and urged legislators from Mt Kenya region to reject it.

“Kenya Kwanza regime intends to impoverish the people of Mt Kenya and we want to remind them it is not possible to legislate the poor into prosperity or the wealthy out of prosperity. We demand the immediate withdrawal of the Finance Bill 2023 in its entirety,” Kioni said.

Former Nyeri Deputy Governor Karugu said despite women voting overwhelmingly for Ruto in last year’s election, their businesses had been targeted for taxation.

“This regime is out to kill Mt Kenya businesses operated by our young men and women. Our mothers have for a long time been involved in chamas and merry-go-rounds to support their families. Those small stalls selling snacks and beauty products at the village which are a source of income to youth and women will now be paying taxes of up to Sh15,000 per year as per the finance bill,” Karugu said.

Other leaders in Azimio coalition who spoke at the press conference included ODM leader Raila Odinga, Roots Party leader George Wajackoyah and his Democratic Action Party–Kenya (DAP-K) counterpart Eugene Wamalwa.

Raila said Azimio la Umoja strongly condemned “the plot by the government to oppress” the youth from the Central region by linking them to criminal organisations.

He claimed that sometimes evidence is planted on innocent youth to associate them to criminal activities.

Strongarm tactics

The opposition leader said Njenga was unfairly targeted by the government for accompanying him to the burial of the wife of Mau Mau leader Dedan Kimathi, Mukami Kimathi, last month.

“Let the government provide the youth with job opportunities. They drink because they have nothing to do,” Raila said.

Wajackoyah accused Gachagua of making a mountain out of a molehill.

“Gachagua you have just put your finger in the mouth of a lion. We here to appeal to this government to leave Maina Njenga alone. Leave these young men alone. They are hungry,” he said.

Wamalwa said it was wrong for the President and his deputy to force MPs to pass the Finance Bill.

“When you see somebody who is supposed to be a symbol of national unity threatening Members of Parliament, and literally blackmailing them, there is something terribly wrong with him. Since they have lost support in the mountain, they are preparing to use strongarm tactics to mute the rebellion that is building up in that region,” Wamalwa said.

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