When Adolf Hitler was running berserk killing and plundering on world stage, his chief propagandist, Goebbels, somehow still managed to convince Germans at home that the murderous dictator was their best gift from the gods. Talk of a bewitched people!
Coming to contemporary Kenyan politics, in the last few months, two lies have been doing rounds in Mount Kenya region. Told often – of course by same clique that invented them – the lies are beginning to be believed.
The first lie is that President Uhuru Kenyatta has neglected the region that voted for him in droves after the rallying call of Kumiira thuraku thuraku! (Come out in large numbers like the safari ants)
The second untruth is that the Deputy President William Ruto is the region’s new knight in shining armour, waiting to be crowned in 2022.
Before we proceed to a rundown on the two pieces of propaganda, it is important we trace their origin.
They first came from the mouth of Moses Kuria, the MP for Gatundu South. Is it a coincidence that at about the time he sparked off the lies, he put huge billboards in Mount Kenya region announcing his intention to contest for the presidency in 2022? Of course, it is highly unlikely that he will run. Which makes it a clever ruse by the person who paid for the billboards.
From Kuria, the usual suspects – MPs Rigathi Gachagua, Ndindi Nyoro, and Alice Wahome, picked up the propaganda. If you do a media trail, you will see how the two lies spread from its originator, let’s call him Lier Zero, in the version of coronavirus!
We now proceed to breakdown the facts – and the fiction.
Two areas mentioned in the supposed neglect of Mount Kenya region by the President are agriculture and infrastructure.
Truth be told, agriculture as a gainful economic activity in Mount Kenya region has received quite a beating over the years. It is a far cry from days when coffee, tea and milk were the gold in the area. But truth also be told, the downward spiral didn’t all come during the Uhuru presidency. To a large extent, he found the spiral already underway when he assumed leadership. In fact, the downturn had started by way of sabotage during the Nyayo era when the “horse” had to be held back for the “donkey” to catch up! In the early 1980s, Moi had famously remarked: “Lazima farasi angojee punda,” meaning that Kikuyu, then assumed to have been more advanced, must be held down in order for the rest of the communities to catch up.
President Mwai Kibaki initiated a tour-around but didn’t get to fully do the job by the time he completed his term.
President Kenyatta was to pick it from where Kibaki left it. Now, the job of putting a shilling in the pockets of the Kenyan farmer is the docket of the Ministry of Agriculture. Truth be told, when Uhuru’s TNA, and Ruto’s URP won in 2013, they agreed to share ministerial portfolios on basis of weight of the ministerial vote and leverage. Ruto, having previously served as Agriculture minister – and fully aware of its resources and potential – demanded URP side get the agriculture docket, which is exactly what happened.
It follows therefore that if the Jubilee administration has neglected Mount Kenya region as far as agriculture is concerned, the blame squarely lies on the person whose men have ran the docket since Jubilee took over in 2013 to early this year. That person happens to be William Ruto.
The first Cabinet Secretary (CS) Ruto put in agriculture ministry was Felix Kosgei. Instead of working to address plight of farmers in Mount Kenya – and indeed in the whole country beginning with DP Ruto’s north Rift backyard where maize farmers suffer year in, year out because of scandals in the ministry – CS Kosgei engaged in activities that made him be asked to step down as his name featured in the list of corruption suspects.
Ruto replacement for him was one Willy Bett, whose performance was so below par that he had to be demoted when new cabinet was named after 2017 election.
The person who replaced Bett was Mwangi Kiunjuri, a known Ruto ally who is currently positioning himself to be picked as Ruto’s running mate in 2022. He was a disgrace and the less said about him the better. We will remember him as man who, when told swarms of locusts were on their way to Kenya, asked us to take pictures and send them to him to take action! Thank heavens the locusts “ate” him.
The man with promise to bring reforms that can return a smile to Mount Kenya farmer is Peter Munya, who the President brought on board early in the year after seven years of letdown and skullduggery.
Turning to alleged neglect in infrastructural development in Mount Kenya region, I will borrow words in Matthew Chapter 11:4 where emissaries from John the Baptist wanted to know indeed whether the prophesied messiah had come. I would say: “Let those who have eyes say whether roads have been built or not in Mount Kenya region; electricity connected, and water piped to homes.” If Kuria were honest, as chair of the National Assembly Committee on Transport, he would testify that more roads have been tarmacked in Mount Kenya region in only eight years of Uhuru presidency than in any other administration before him. One of the most important roads in region is the Mau Mau Highway that is currently being built. The road will link the counties of Nyeri, Murang’a, Kiambu and Nakuru. That isn’t to mention more households have been connected with electricity under Uhuru than were connected for the entire period since independence!
The hypocrisy in the neglect propaganda came out loud and clear in a radio talk show late last year where MP Gachagua waxed lyrical of how his Mathira constituency has transformed in the eight years he has been the Jubilee MP. He talked about projects done through National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF), the county government, and the national government. In the latter, he cited Karatina ultra-modern market that was commissioned by President himself.
Yet Gachagua is drum major in the neglect propaganda. Talk of saying different things from opposite sides of the same mouth.
Now we come to fundamentals: Is it the President who is supposed to “give” development to any given region? Well, that used to be the mantra in the days of one-party state – the days of mama na baba and Mtukufu Rais juu, juu zaidi!
When President Kibaki took over, he changed the archaic mentality and told us the truth: that development is the product of our own hard work, paying taxes, and the government making sure the tax money isn’t stolen.
He even banned the so-called harambees, which he said not only brought about a dependent culture but gave leaders excuse to steal public money to “donate” at the Harambees.
So how does development from the taxes paid get to a given area?
First is through the CDF money, which is allocated to every constituency. In the highly populated Mt. Kenya region, constituencies are fewer, which means that the area get few resources. But MPs are not fighting hard to ensure better representation for their people and therefore more money to their region.
When Moses Kuria and co. say there has been no development in Mount Kenya region, they should also tell us personally what they have been doing with their CDF allocations.
The second avenue for development is county allocations, which are managed by the respective Governors and the MCAs. For instance, if Nyeri county hasn’t had development through county allocations, MP Gachagua would have a clue where the money went when his brother was first Governor of Nyeri!
Again, counties in the Mt. Kenya region are not receiving the mount they deserve given their huge populations, but vocal MPs have totally avoided this issue, preferring instead to direct their fire at the president.
The third avenue for development is from budgetary allocations by the national government. This comes through the national budget drawn by the Treasury in liaison with the National Assembly budget committee, and approved by Parliament.
Now, until last year, the CS for Treasury was Henry Rotich, with who Ruto has been closely associated. The chairman of the National Assembly budget committee ever since Jubilee took over has been another Ruto man – Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa.
It then follows that if true Mount Kenya region has been starved of development funds from the national government, Ruto’s men – Rotich and Ichung’wa – must shoulder their fully blame.
Coming to specific development projects initiated by the national government, if power hasn’t been connected in Mount Kenya region, it is Ruto men to blame because the ministry in charge of electricity connections – Energy – is one of those he allocated himself as his share of spoils from Jubilee election victory. His first appointee to the ministry, David Chirchir, had to step aside on graft allegations! The current holder of the position is his right-hand man, Charles Keter.
As for water connections, until early this year, the water docket was a preserve of Ruto appointees. So if Mount Kenya region was neglected in provision of water, the neglect can certainly not be blamed squarely on Uhuru unless there is malice involved.
Now we turn to the wishful thinking that the DP is the shoo-in presidential candidate in the Mount Kenya region come 2022.
First question is: Ruto running against whom? So far the DP is the only person who has been campaigning to be President in 2022. His is a case of blowing a whistle to a race where you are the only competitor and declaring yourself the winner against yourself, Abunuasi style!
Second point is that Mount Kenya voters have no history of getting swayed by money. Ruto should know that better having been in the outfit called Youth for Kanu (YK’92) in the 1992 first multi-party presidential elections.
Despite “pouring” – to use the word from those days – so much money to buy votes in the region, there was nothing to show for it on the day of reckoning. Ruto will also remember the 1995 by-election in Kipipiri constituency, where money was dished out in sacks as he does but nothing came out of it.
Thirdly, Mount Kenya voters are known to vote for interests not personalities, and will suddenly drop you like a piece of hot ugali once their interests shift.
In the 1992 election, Kibaki was sure to sweep the Mount Kenya vote until Kenneth Matiba suddenly appeared on the scene and snatched bread from his mouth, so to speak.
In the 1997 election, Matiba believed he still had the magic only for Mount Kenya voters to suddenly switch to Kibaki who they felt would serve their interests better. And in 2002, Mount Kenya voters turned their back on Uhuru who didn’t match their interests, but voted him to a man 10 years down the line when he aligned to their vision.
Even to Ruto’s best of optimists, where Mount Kenya region is concerned, a free advice is: Tuliza mboli, mambo bado!
Picked from internet..Author not disclosed