A bitter war of words has erupted in Deputy President William Ruto’s camp over the running mate post amid questions over ANC boss Musalia Mudavadi’s position in Kenya Kwanza team.
The fresh conflict could derail Ruto’s alliance building process at a time when he is keen on creating a formidable election machine to face ODM boss Raila Odinga of Azimio.
On Monday, Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua claimed the position is reserved for Mt Kenya and that Mudavadi and his Ford Kenya counterpart Moses Wetang’ula had agreed to that arrangement.
“When they came for discussion, we were very forthright because we are honest people. They were told and we agreed that running mate is from the mountain,” he said.
“We don’t want to con someone. They will not be running mates,” Gachagua, a close ally of the DP, said.
But Gachagua was contradicted by ANC secretary general Simon Gikuru and Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala.
Gikuru accused Gachagua of harbouring a “regional UDA mindset and failing to embrace the broader picture of Kenya Kwanza philosophy.”
“Kenya Kwanza has not decided on its presidential and running mate candidates. This will happen and be unveiled at an appropriate time by our principals,” he said.
He went on, “In this regard, Hon Rigathi Gachagua has no authority to speak for Kenya Kwanza on the matter hence his sentiments are premature, untimely and unwarranted.”
Recent polls have shown that Mudavadi is Ruto’s best for a running mate, elbowing Gachagua who was the favourite before the ANC-UDA deal.
Gachagua, a high-ranking member of Ruto’s inner circle, had insisted that by the time Mudavadi and Wetang’ula came on board, a power deal existed.
The MP who is touted as Ruto’s possible running mate from Mt Kenya, said the DP had already committed to picking his deputy from the region before Kenya Kwanza was formed.
“But as far as I am concerned, Ruto is a presidential candidate and the running mate will come from the mountain at an appropriate time,” Gachagua said.
He spoke during an interview with Citizen TV on Monday.
Malala, a key member of Mudavadi’s team and who played a key role in the negotiations, dismissed Gachagua saying the position of running mate is open for discussion.
“The power sharing deal under Kenya Kwanza has not been reached. The deal will be reached by the principals, Mudavadi, Ruto and Wetang’ula,” Malala said.
Mudavadi is currently accompanying Ruto on his 12-day tour of US and UK.
The senator said segmenting the country into Mt Kenya, Western and Coast, as Gachagua was doing, is not the vision of Kenya Kwanza.
“..and to be precise Western Kenya if we talk of numbers, we (Western Kenya) have numbers. We have to negotiate on behalf of our people in any formation that we get into,” he said.
Mudavadi who joined Ruto on January 23 is a key linchpin in the formation of Ruto’s election power machine but despite his influence, his exact role in the DP’s camp remains unclear.
While his entry into the DP’s camp has fired up Ruto’s campaign machine, his influence within the Kenya Kwanza Alliance has rattled the Mt Kenya region, staking claim to deputy president.
It appears Ruto’s troops from Mt Kenya are fighting off perceptions that because of his political stature, Mudavadi could end up deposing the region from the running mate post.
Musalia’s camp is also under pressure from Western backyard to at least deliver the position of deputy president in case Ruto would be the Kenya Kwanza presidential candidate.
However, analyst have said given Mt Kenya’s vote basket, it is almost given that Ruto will pick his running mate from there and that Mudavadi would be forced to settle for a lesser post in the matrix.