By: Kamande Muchiri @MountKenyaTimes
- Waiguru’s move did not come as surprise to observers as she had been sending signals that she would abandon the ruling Jubilee Party after the courts declared the Building Bridges Initiative constitutional amendment process she previously supported as null and void.
- ”The bible says when you lack wisdom, you ask for it. I have asked for it and I have listened and checked with many members seated here,” she said.
- Pundits’ argue Waiguru’s move is reminiscent of past elections where top leaders sought refuge in parties perceived to be dominant in their regions to make a return to mainstream politics.
After months of speculations, Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru has formally joined the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) which is associated with Deputy President William Ruto.
Waiguru cleared the air over her political stand and the outfit she shall use to defend her seat in 2022 yesterday when she met Ruto at his official residence in Karen.
The shift by Waiguru to UDA marked the heightened re-alignment linked to the fight for political survival as the 2022 General Election nears.
The first time governor made no secret of the fact that he was making a strategic move to preserve his political ambition, citing pressure from supporters and popularity of the Bottom-Up Economic Model as factors that informed her decision.
“It is only a fool who can continue being in the same political path with the kind of pressure that I have been facing,” she said.
”I have asked if it is betrayal if I moved but the message that I was given by everybody is that in politics you must be very careful to stay relevant and listen to the people,” she added.
Waiguru’s move did not come as surprise to observers as she had been sending signals that she would abandon the ruling Jubilee Party after the courts declared the Building Bridges Initiative constitutional amendment process she previously supported as null and void.
The governor said she consulted and was directed towards joining United Democratic Alliance.
”The bible says when you lack wisdom, you ask for it. I have asked for it and I have listened and checked with many members seated here,” she said.
Pundits’ argue Waiguru’s move is reminiscent of past elections where top leaders sought refuge in parties perceived to be dominant in their regions to make a return to mainstream politics.
Waiguru said that Kirinyaga people spoke their minds during Mashujaa day celebrations in the county.
”Anyone there heard it for themselves. You saw it yourself, and we also saw that you were a bit startled yourself,” she said.
“We could see… You have great humility because you did not chest thump and that is why the people love you. Sisi tumeamua, tumevuka. Chama ni UDA na form ni Hustler,” she said.
Waiguru was accompanied by 25 Members of Kirinyaga County Assembly visited who also declared defection from the ruling Jubilee Party.
She thanked members of the Kirinyaga County Assembly for accompanying her on her journey to join the Hustler Nation.
“As a team, we will walk United so as to achieve development and growth for our people through the bottom-up economic model,” said the governor.
Also present in the meeting were MPs George Kariuki (Ndia), Aisha Jumwa (Malindi), Susan Kihika (Nakuru), Rigathi Gachagua (Mathira) and Kimani Ichung’wah (Kikuyu).
DP Ruto reaction
DP Ruto lauded Governor Waiguru and the people of Kirinyaga for the move that they had taken.
“It is a difficult, bold but political decision; it will shape the future of our country,” said Ruto.
An elated Ruto termed the move remarkable, noting that Waiguru’s entry to his camp will immediately advance his quest to statehouse.
“I am proud that you have made this decision that we want to work together, and we want to work this journey together. You are most welcome. You are actually at home in this team,” he said.
The DP said together with President Uhuru Kenyatta, they had worked with Waiguru to shape Jubilee’s development plan and that her joining UDA would strengthen the Hustler movement’s think-tank.
Ruto asked party members and supporters to accommodate those joining, adding that nobody should feel threatened.
“Our UDA model is not a winner-take-all model, we want to accommodate all. We must all share.”
The DP who is eyeing to succeed his boss Uhuru Kenyatta said his team was waiting for the moment as they knew it was going to happen.
“You said you have been waiting for this moment. I have also told you, even on this other side, we have been waiting for this moment. Because we all knew it was going to happen,” said Ruto.
According to Ruto, the decision by Waiguru demonstrates that there are many more within the ruling party that could be waiting to join his camp. And he is telling them his outfit to welcome them.
“It takes very courageous leaders to make serious decisions. Many people would rather make peace with mediocrity, rather than be bold and make a decision that will shape the future.” He said of Waiguru’s decision to decamp.
“We are confident that the same way we assembled the foundation upon which we are standing today, we are able to build on it so that we can make Kenya that greater the way we all envisioned and had planned.” He remarked amid cheers from leaders who had joined him in welcoming Waiguru to UDA.
The Deputy President said the energy and focus that leaders used to forming Jubilee Party will be used in building UDA.
He said UDA was keen on having more women in political leadership.
“We will ensure that there is a conducive environment for women to seek leadership in our country,” he argued.
In July, Waiguru refuted claims that she was gearing to be a presidential running mate in the 2022 elections.
The governor she has not sat with any of the presidential hopefuls to discuss the running mate question in the President Uhuru Kenyatta succession race next year.
“I have not sat with anyone to discuss the running mate question,” she said.
According to Waiguru, the conversation around her being wooed for a running mate post is a talk by people testing the ground.
“It is not a bad thing. It shows that people believe in you. I see it as respect for the Kirinyaga people,” she said, adding that such push and pull is normal in politics.
The governor, a former Devolution Cabinet Secretary, instead declared that she will defend her seat.
“For now, my plan is to defend my seat…that is my plan until there would be a different move,” Waiguru said
Pundits say Waiguru’s defection introduces a political battle between her and Kirinyaga Women Representative, Wangui Ngirici, who had long expressed interest in vying for the governor seat on a UDA ticket.
However, Ngirici maintains she didn’t mind competition, further welcoming Waiguru to UDA.
Ngirici – DP Ruto’s longtime supporter in the county – wished the governor and MCA’s well, adding that she will continue to focus on my responsibilities as a lawmaker in Kirinyaga County
The lawmaker, who had earlier declared her interest in Kirinyaga gubernatorial seat on a UDA ticket, said she was ready to face her competitor in the party primaries ahead of 2022 polls.
“Now that they are here, we will go and face each other in the party nominations because I fear no one. The people of Kirinyaga come first,” she said.
Waiguru survive impeachment
Waiguru in June survived impeachment after the Senate Committee cleared her of all the allegations she was facing.
The eleven-member ad hoc committee chaired by Kakamega Senate Cleopas Malala tabled its report on June 10, after 10 days during which it held hearings investigating charges levelled against Waiguru by members of the Kirinyaga County Assembly.
The committee’s report indicated the evidence produced by the County Assembly did not meet the threshold to warrant her impeachment.
“The committee having investigated the matter in accordance with its mandate under Section 33(4) of the County Governments Act and Standing order 75(2) of the Senate Standing Orders reports to the Senate that it finds that the two charges against the Governor have not been substantiated,” read the report.
Allegations faced by Waiguru included abuse of office, gross violation of the law and using her office to unconstitutionally confer a benefit to herself when she was irregularly paid travel allowances amounting to Sh10.6 million.
Waiguru’s move is however not unique to other politicians who have in the past sought to make political shifts to favour their ambitions.
Earlier this year, Nominated MP Isaac Mwaura switched from the Kieleweke wing of Jubilee, allied to Uhuru to Tangatanga that leans towards the DP.
Murang’a senator who has been mentioned among leaders interested in vying for governor’s seat also joined the Ruto camp.
Former Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto in January joined by Chepalungu MP Gideon Koskei, Narok West legislator Gabriel Tonkoyo and MCAs in declaring their support for Ruto.
The Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM) leader, who will be seeking to dislodge Hillary Barchok, lost his seat to the late Joyce Laboso, a Ruto ally, in the 2017 General Election and has been out in the political cold.
Political leaders and other commentators are of the view the realignments will continue to increase as the year progresses.