By The Weekly Vision Team
President William Ruto’s handlers are said to be deeply disappointed at the low turnout and a seemingly cold reception the president received in Kikuyu town a week ago. Political analysts are now trying to figure out why that happened in an area that overwhelmingly voted for him in the last presidential elections and whether it was a sign of a political tide turning against him and his lieutenants.
Keen political observers might have noticed that during the rally in Kikuyu town, the small crowd was not as lively and enthusiastic as was expected, and even after the president made promises, there was no applause or cheering; the crowd just watched pensively as he gave his speech. Was it therefore a silent way of telling the president that they were fed up with his empty promises and that what they wanted was action? What is not clear is why the MPs and the president’s close allies failed to mobilize their supporters to give the president the usual heroic welcome, as witnessed in the past.
Sources, however, claim that Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichungwa, the president’s blue-eyed boy, is the one who convinced his boss to pay a visit to the former primary school during the start of the KCPE exams but seemingly failed to lobby the locals for support. According to sources, the president’s visit to Kiambu County was to counter retired President Uhuru Kenyatta’s growing influence in the region. Specifically, the Ruto visit was to do damage control after Kiambu residents celebrated Uhuru’s birthday in style and even publicly apologized to him for having defied his advice in the last general elections.
It came as a surprise to President Ruto that Uhuru Kenyatta’s birthday was celebrated not only in his home county of Kiambu but in the entire Mount Kenya region. MP Ichungwa is said to have convinced Ruto to visit Kiambu and deconstruct Uhuru Kenyatta’s growing popularity in the region. Sources say that Ichungwa hurriedly convened a meeting of Kiambu MPs with the president at the State House. The main agenda, according to sources, was to lobby and accord their boss a rousing welcome to demonstrate that Mount Kenya was still with him and Kenya Kwanza.
It is worth noting that during the state house meeting, Kiambu governor Kimani wa Matangi was conspicuously absent, as was the rebel Githunguri MP, KGathoni Wamuchomba. Apart from missing the State House meeting, they were also missing at the Kikuyu town rally. Both Wamatangi and Wamuchomba are known to have very little time for President Ruto. The governor has been telling those who care to listen that the Kenya Kwanza leadership is plotting to kick him out of office through an impeachment motion by the MCAs.
But it’s not the absence of the two MPs that has raised eyebrows; it’s the low-key reception that Kikuyu residents accorded the president. It has emerged that Ruto was to visit the school and then address residents in Kikuyu town, according to the official program. This was not therefore an impromptu rally, but it was well organized and planned, and lobbying was done, but residents gave it a wide berth.
The next question is why Kikuyu town residents boycotted a presidential function yet overwhelmingly voted for him in the last general elections. Ruto garnered 72% of the total votes cast in Kiambu, while Raila Odinga got a paltry 29%. Ruto’s UDA also won all 11 parliamentary seats: women’s representative, governorship, and senatorial seat. In Kikuyu Constituency, where residents boycotted Ruto’s function, of the 98,758 registered voters, only 64,889 turned out to cast their votes. Ruto received 47,145 votes against Raila’s 16,877 votes.
So statistically speaking, going by how the Kikuyu constituency voted, it was expected that Ruto was to address a mammoth crowd; however, the reverse happened. The poor reception has made Ichungwa and the Kenya Kwanza brigade go back to the drawing board to lay fresh strategies to counter Uhuru’s growing influence in the region. Analysts say that as things stand now, considering the level of dissatisfaction not only in Kikuyu constituency but in Kiambu County at large, if elections were to be held today, Ruto might receive not more than 30% of the votes.