Inside Politics

Running mate position rattles Ruto coalition

Tuesday, March 1st, 2022 04:31 | By
ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi and DP Ruto. PHOTO/Courtesy
ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi and DP Ruto. PHOTO/Courtesy

Cracks have begun to emerge in the nascent Kenya Kwanza Alliance (KKA)  following remarks by Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua, that the position of running mate in the coalition was the preserve of Mt Kenya region.

In a move that is likely to test the unity of the alliance, Gachagua said neither Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi nor his Ford Kenya counterpart Moses Wetang’ula will be the running mate of Deputy President William Ruto in the August 9 polls.

The United Democratic Alliance (UDA) luminary, charged that Mudavadi and Wetang’ula entered the KKA well aware that the position would go to Mt Kenya.

Gachagua, speaking on a morning TV talk show, made it clear that the two Western political heavyweights will have to settle for other roles should Ruto become President.

The Mathira lawmaker was categorical that UDA will have its National Delegates Convention (NDC) mid this month in which they will unveil the Ruto as their presidential candidate.

Ethnic animosity

“As far as I’m concerned, Ruto is our presidential candidate and other things will follow. The running mate will come from the Mountain at an appropriate time,” said Gachagua.

He maintained that Mudavadi and Wetang’ula were aware of this when they were joining the alliance, adding that they were also informed that the position of a running mate will not be up for grabs.

“We do not want to con anyone. When they came for discussions we were very forthright because we are very honest people. They were told that the running mate will come from the Mt Kenya region. They will not be running mates,” confirmed Gachagua.

But in a terse statement, Amani National Congress Secretary-General Simon Gikuru protested Gachagua’s comments, accusing him of propagating immature politics.

He said the coalition was primarily built on the strength of shared ideologies pegged on economic revival, social justice, political tranquillity and entrenched nationalism.

“It is our considered opinion that Gachagua should transition from a regional UDA mindset to embrace the broader picture of KKA philosophy. The coalition has not decided on its presidential and running mate candidates. This will happen and be unveiled at an appropriate time by our principals Mudavadi, Ruto and Wetang’ula,” said Gikuru.

The ANC official explained that the coalition was meant to put the country together “and erase ethnic animosity through mature politics devoid of toxic divisive narratives”.

“Rigathi has no authority to speak for KKA on the matter hence his sentiments are premature, untimely and unwarranted.”

Ford Kenya organising secretary Chris Mandu Mandu also dismissed Gachagua’s remarks as “merely personal,” adding that the constituent parties have not held consultations on the positions.

“The statement Rigathi made is personal. As far as we are concerned we have not had any consultations as constituent parties within KKA,” said Mandu Mandu.

According to Mandu; a close ally of Wetang’ula, they did not have any issue on the position of running mate and have no squabbles if UDA decided to give the position to anyone.

“We have never had any issue regarding the position of the running mate. After all, we do not owe anybody any political debt. You know the people who have political debt and certainly, it’s not Ford Kenya,” he told People Daily.

The party stalwarts were caught up in exchange even as Ruto and Mudavadi embarked on the first day of their trip to the US and UK yesterday.

Gachagua, who is a founder member of Ruto’s IUDA and a strong ally of the DP, is said to be representing a mindset in the party that the running mate position should be given to individuals who have sacrificed for the party longer, especially those who come from Mt Kenya.  

Those familiar with the thinking of the Gachagua group say they argue that any “later entrants and partners” into the KKA family, should settle for other positions as part of their bargain for a coalition.

According to Gachagua, Mudavadi’s role will be announced soon although earlier speculation had indicated that should Ruto win the presidency, Mudavadi would be made a Chief Minister to oversee government ministries.

Second fiddle

In the current arrangement, Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i is the supervisor of the government ministries and chairman of the National Development Implementation and Communication Committee.

Yesterday, Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malalah also joined in the running mate debate, accusing Gachagua of closing the window for negotiations.

Malalah; a close ally of Mudavadi, said that the power-sharing deal under Kenya Kwanza has not been reached.

According to the senator, Mudavadi, Ruto and Wetang’ula will reach a deal on who becomes the presidential candidate and the running mate.

“At our level, we will engage with the likes of Gachagua because we are not presidential aspirants. Segmenting the country into Mt Kenya, Western, Coast et al is not the vision of Kenya Kwanza,” said Malalah.

In all the coalitions – Azimio la Umoja, One Kenya Alliance (OKA) and KKA – the issue of running mate has been a thorny discussion but which must be settled before the end of April, according to the electoral agency’s timelines.

And although recent opinion polls by TIFA have indicated that Gachagua plays second fiddle to Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru and Mudavadi on who should be running mate, Gachagua has been close to Ruto and was assumed to be top in the Mt Kenya political hierarchy in UDA and poised to be picked as the running mate.

Malalah further warned Gachagua to desist from such talks, adding that the Western region has numbers and they cannot be taken for granted.

“To be precise, Western Kenya has numbers if we talk of numbers. We have to negotiate on behalf of our people in any formation that we get in. For now, it is Kenya Kwanza.”

He added: “We strongly believe that Kenya Kwanza is an idea that Kenyans want. We are forging a coalition that will liberate Kenyans. Our principals are abroad. Let us give them time to concentrate on the mission ahead. They will be back and they will speak”

Ruto and Mudavadi alongside other leaders left the country on Sunday morning on a high-profile overseas trip that will see them spend 10 days in the United States of America, the United Kingdom and Qatar.

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