In the ongoing ~ already heated ~ debate of President Uhuru Kenyatta succession, no Mt Kenya county has dominated the conversation than Kirinyaga.
The bitter rivalry between powerful Interior PS Karanja Kibicho and the current county leadership; a 5~year old showdown pitting current governor Anne Waiguru against Women Rep Wangui Ngirici who seeks to unseat Waiguru in 2022; the touting of Waiguru as a possible Ruto running-mate; and the grand return of Gichugu iron lady Martha Karua whose ambition is split in the middle between contesting for the county governorship and becoming a presidential runningmate for Raila Odinga; have all thrust Kirinyaga to the centre of Kenyatta’s 2022 succession.
PUZZLE MADE EASIER
However, recent developments which include PS Kibicho’s sudden and unprecedented dalliance with the Ngiricis and the recent shifting of Waiguru from Jubilee to DP William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance where Ngirici has been comfortably running the show all through, effectively taking the war to Ngirici’s doorstep, had perhaps started making the rather complex Kirinyaga puzzle easier to solve. Political pundits had started predicting an easy win for Martha Karua who would have been the biggest beneficiary of the Waiguru ~ Ngirici duel happening within UDA.
But this argument appears not to hold water anymore after another unforeseen dynamic popped up.
THE KIBIRU COUP EFFECT
On Wednesday this week, in what could be a game-changing development, out of the blues, current Kirinyaga Senator Charles Kibiru was crowned new County Spokesman, effectively conducting a coup on Anne Waiguru who was the holder of the coveted position and definitely altering the larger Kirinyaga conversation.
Now, the move could not of be much consequence and would perhaps not have caused the stir it has were it not for two reasons: Who endorsed Kibiru and who exactly Charles Reubenson Kibiru is.
To begin with is the weight of the team that endorsed Kibiru. Led by firebrand Kirinyaga Jubilee chairman Murithi Kangara, the team has Ms Diana Gicaiya the local chairperson of the Mandeleo ya Wanawake Organisation, Harrison Ndambiri the chairman of the area Council of Elders Kiama Kia Ma’s Mwangi Gituto and former Kirinyaga Central MP Gachoki Gitari, making it a very formidable political force considering the gamechanging sway the various members have held on the county’s politics before.
A HISTORY OF SURPRISES
Secondly is a consideration of who this man Kibiru is. If his profile and history is anything to go by, then one would only be ignorant and politically gullible to underestimate him.
Kibiru scores many firsts that make him a force worth attention. Over time, his unique style of politicking has proven to work magic for him, often getting everyone unawares. Take for example the 2017 senatorial race story. Most pundits viewed him as a non~starter and even wrote him off. His loss to then incumbent Senator Daniel Karaba, a seasoned politician, during the controversial Jubilee Party nominations appeared to have buried his politics only for him to pull a shocker by going independent and squarely beating Karaba in the general elections to the surprise of many. Now, it is one thing to win as an independent candidate; it is a totally different thing to do it against a Jubilee candidate, in a Jubilee stronghold, where people were voting suit almost to the last man. Kibiru is the only independent Senator in the country!
Those who know the soft spoken Kibiru better describe him as a smooth operator, calm, very composed yet extremely tactical; a master strategist who is easy to mistake yet damn lethal.
FINANCIAL WAR CHEST
And then there is the crucial question of his unmatched financial war chest. Kibiru is not just rich; he is said to have silently amassed an enormous fortune in his business ventures which include the Thika Greens Golf Estate estimated to be worth to the tune of billions, an enterprise he is said to have pulled through to the surprise of everyone. If he decides to flex his economic muscle in a political contest, few would match his pace.
TOO SOFT A POLITICIAN
But of course Kibiru has his downside too. His smooth and rather too ‘gentleman’ kind of politics would have a hard time getting space in the largely euphoria and braggadocio guided politics of Kirinyaga.
So, what is Kibiru up to with his latest moves? He has already hinted at going to the county’s top job though he is yet to officially declare his intention. What if he throws his hat in the ring confirming the fears of those making enormous noise over his latest endorsement?
Could Kibiru pull another surprise in Kirinyaga’s gubernatorial equation, just as he has always done?
He will definitely be an interesting one to watch in the coming days.