University of Nairobi (UoN) don and political analyst Herman Manyora in an exclusive interview with Kenyans.co.ke on Tuesday, January 14, reacted to President Uhuru Kenyatta's unprecedented address to the nation.
Manyora maintained that Uhuru's message was meant to assert his authority and dismiss the narrative that he had neglected his Central Kenya backyard as had been suggested by some leaders. This was why, Manyora argued, Uhuru's speech dealt with issues of coffee, tea and dairy farming in addition to re-structuring the cabinet.
With Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri sent home in the re-shuffle, Manyora claimed that the move left Kiunjuri in pole position to become Deputy President William Ruto's running-mate in 2022 when Ruto is expected to run for President.
"Kiunjuri looks set to become Ruto's running mate in 2022 because he has taken the beating for Ruto," Manyora explained.
Manyora argued that with Kiunjuri having been the most vocal Cabinet Secretary in the Tanga Tanga faction of the Jubilee Party allied to Ruto, his exit from the Agriculture Ministry positioned him as the man who took the fall for Ruto.
He however, cautioned that while Kiunjuri's political profile had received an immediate boost, his star could quickly be diminished if Uhuru's message resonated with the people of Central Kenya.
Manyora explained that the decision to replace Kiunjuri with Trade, Industry and Co-operatives CS Peter Munya was calculated and strategic.
"Munya has been very active pushing Uhuru's development agenda in Central. He has been the one countering the narrative that Uhuru is not working.
"Now he's been given a ministry where he is in a better position to handle the development issues that matter to the region such as coffee, tea and dairy farming," he noted.
Tanga Tanga leaders including Kandara MP Alice Wahome and Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria had in recent weeks lamented about tribulations being faced by farmers in Central Kenya, insisting that funds channeled towards the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) backed by Uhuru and opposition leader Raila Odinga could have been better spent helping farmers.
"Waiguru (Kirinyaga Governor) has been the face of the politics on Uhuru's side while Munya has focused on development.
"If Uhuru's message resonates with the people then Kiunjuri's goose is cooked," Manyora observed.
He further noted that Uhuru's move could be cast as a reward for Munya having backed the president in the face of attacks from various Central Kenya leaders.
On his part, Kiunjuri convened a press conference hours after the president's address revealing that he did not plan on disappearing from the public eye.
"With my experience spanning over 25 years I have a lot to offer, I'll continue to serve faithfully in other capacities. Make no mistake, I'm not going anywhere," he asserted.
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