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Peter Kenneth finds place in President Uhuru’s courtyard

By Eric Wainaina
Tuesday, September 29th, 2020
Former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth addresses BBI meeting in Meru Photo/PD/FILE
In summary

Branded a spoiler and traitor by his critics in Mount Kenya region after he contested against President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2013, former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth seems to have turned tables and gained acceptance into the Head of State’s inner sanctum.

Kenneth and Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua attracted criticism when they challenged Uhuru in the 2013 presidential election and after the poll worked with his rival Opposition leader Raila Odinga in 2014 agitating for electoral reforms.

However, the former Planning Assistant Minister is today received warmly in the region where politicians have been pushing for him to be crowned a kingpin in the Uhuru succession matrix. 

Kenneth not only shelved his presidential ambitions in 2017 in favour of Uhuru and even disbanded his Kenya National Congress (KNC) party but he has lately become a close buddy of influential Jubilee vice-chairman David Murathe, a strong member of the Uhuru inner circle.

He has also been holding meetings with Raila who has called for his appointment to Cabinet.

“This man (Kenneth) knows how to be a gentleman. The way he conducts himself; the way he performs his duties which is very diligent and even the way he dresses. Mr President, this man needs to be given some work to do,” said Raila during the funeral of Kenneth’s mother in July last year.

An ardent supporter of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), last Friday, he met elders at Mathingira Mahiga Matatu Cultural Centre and shrines inside the Mt Kenya Forest where he was crowned as the Agikuyu cultural ambassador in what has been seen as a plan to prepare him to succeed Uhuru as the regional kingpin.

Last month, Kenneth held another meeting in Narumoru, Nyeri, that was organised by Kikuyu Council of Elders chairman Wachira wa Kiago and attended by Mt Kenya Foundation chairman Peter Munga who later told the media the gathering was a platform to call on “wayward” leaders from Central Kenya to support Uhuru’s agenda.

On July 8, Kenneth and other personalties met at a Nairobi hotel to discuss what they described as key “development related matters in Mt Kenya”. Kenneth’s presence raised eyebrows because unlike other attendees, he holds no government position.

Cultural shrine 

Yesterday, Kikuyu Council of Elders chair Kiago told People Daily the former MP’s past and his shift to the President’s camp, had gradually earned him respect and a place in the power house that is critical in 2022 succession politics. The elder said Kenneth’s past should not be used against him.

“Even with children, there is the aggressive one who does things ahead of others even without permission. 

Parents end up using them to take care of others because they are experienced. Kenneth stood in 2013 and showcased his ability and built a name nationally. He is not like other leaders who have restricted their politics to their respective regions but want to play a national role,” Kiago said.

But former Kiambu Governor William Kabogo, who has been angling to play a key role in Mt Kenya politics and a group of MPs from the region allied to Deputy President William Ruto have poured cold water on efforts to elevate Kenneth.

The DP’s allies see Kenneth as part of an axis that is keen to block Ruto from ascending to State House in 2022.

Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua and his Kiharu counterpart Ndindi Nyoro have dismissed Kenneth as a non-starter.

Regional kingpin

“Kenneth is a man who represents everything that Mt Kenya would wish to forget.

In 2013 when Uhuru Kenyatta needed all the community members around him owing to the International Criminal Court case, he struck a defiant cord and went ahead to contest against him,” Gachagua said.

Gachagua added that Kenneth has never been heard articulating the region’s economic interests “and has a tendency of showing up after five years to ask for votes.”

Kabogo, on the other hand, accuses the Mount Kenya Foundation, which he claims rigged him out of office in 2017, of pushing Kenneth’s agenda as the next regional kingpin.

“There’s a group of people calling themselves Mount Kenya Foundation. They went to President Uhuru Kenyatta and told them that I am arrogant, proud and that I should be dethroned from my gubernatorial seat and that is how I lost.

They are headed back to the President to propose Peter Kenneth. We will not allow them to fool the President anymore,” Kabogo told a funeral in Kirinyaga early this month.

Yesterday, Kenneth acknowledged his move to compete with Uhuru in 2013, which, he says, raised his political image nationally, had earned him political enemies but argued that his political journey was not different from that of the Head of State and trying to use the 2013 card against him was “a lost argument”.

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