Campaigns for President Uhuru Kenyatta in Mt Kenya failed to start as planned following wrangles among leaders.
Rivalry between politicians involved in strategising for the vote hunt emerged a week after President Uhuru Kenyatta hosted leaders from 10 counties in Mt Kenya at Sagana State Lodge in Nyeri County.
The meeting succeeded in bringing together leaders, such as Peter Munya and Kiraitu Murungi, Ann Waiguru and Martha Karua, who were in opposing camps during the August 8 elections. However, the clash of personalities seems to have broken the unity of purpose required to ensure a high voter turn out in the fresh presidential election.
Sources at the meeting told Sunday Standard that rivalry among politicians played out in front of the president as he rallied them to work as a team during the campaigns.
Elected leaders and the losers all want to take the lead role in the campaigns, a matter that has divided them.
The president had asked the leaders to shun animosity and form committees to spearhead the campaigns.
“Both winners and losers in the General Election have supporters, we cannot ignore the influence of any leaders,” Kenyatta said.
Those who attended the Sagana meeting revealed that it took the intervention of the Head of State to have the senior politicians enlisted in the campaign teams.
“Although some elected leaders wanted to get the lead role in the campaigns, he was categorical that all be involved,” said a source.
Despite losing their seats, Ms Karua, former Kiambu Governor Willam Kabogo and former Meru Governor Peter Munya still hold sway among voters.
But a day after the meeting, Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua started campaigns in his constituency, a move that exposed discord between him and Nyeri Governor Wahome Gakuru.
“We had a meeting and agreed to form campaign teams, but I will not sit down and wait, I have my own infrastructure and have already activated my campaign machinery to kick start campaigns,” Mr Gachagua said.
Interestingly, the presidential campaign team committee is still holding meetings to put structures in place. But yesterday, the Nyeri Governor sought to assure the public that despite reports of divisions, all is well.
“We are working very closely together; no one is pulling in a different direction. People may have a difference of opinion but that does not mean that we are divided,” Mr Gakuru said.
Former Mukurweini MP Kabando wa Kabando has dismissed claims that individual campaigns were an indication of a split in the leadership. “Group and individual efforts are necessary to mobilise all the votes for Kenyatta and William Ruto,” he said.
Gachoki Gitari, who was Karua’s running mate, told the Sunday Standard that they had no objection to working with the county team which will be led by Waiguru.
“We may have our own differences but we are looking at the bigger picture,” Mr Gitari said. “We will set our differences aside and work towards this common goal.”
He revealed that the committee in Kirinyaga had already met three times and was expected to start the campaigns later in the week.
But in Meru, political rivals Munya and Kiraitu seem not to agree. The former governor announced that he will not be part of the Jubilee team in the county but will run his own campaign. Speaking during an interview in a local FM station, the former governor said his political differences with Kiraitu would not allow them to work together. “If there is a big meeting called by the president I can participate. But I can’t see myself attending a rally organised by Kiraitu, because we have unfinished business with my petition against him.”
He said the PNU committee is planning to start campaigns for the president at the grassroots.
There are signs of a tug of war between Governor Ferdinand Waititu and Kabogo. Speaking at a vernacular TV station on Monday, Waititu said he had planned for campaign meetings in Kiambu and claimed that he organised the Uhuru Park rally in Nairobi.
“Even though I don’t want to be involved in a political spat with some forces who lost, I am aware of their scheme to portray me in bad light and to insinuate that I am reluctant to take charge of the campaign,” he said.