The political rivalry between William Ruto and Fred Matiang’i over presidential succession was recently taken to Matiang’i’s backyard where he sharply clashed with one of Ruto’s leading lights from Rift Valley.
Matiang’i confronted Kericho senator Aaron Cheruiyot at a funeral ceremony in Nyamira county over the Ruaraka land saga as two political camps one pro-Matiang’i and the other for the deputy president turned the burial into a political forum for drumming up support for their favourite in the runup to the presidential poll come 2022.
Weekly Citizen has information to the effect that pro – Ruto Gusii MPs had held a meeting with Cheruiyot and it was agreed that he raises the Ruaraka land scam matter and tea politics to rub Matiang’i the wrong way. To them, Matiang’i who is known to be unable to control his temper was going to react and expose himself in public, more so, among the Gusii leaders who were present.
The idea to have a pro-Ruto Kisii MP attack Matiang’i was shelved on grounds that first, it was not known if the would be given a chance to talk and two, if a local politician attacked the super minister, he would be labelled a traitor and heckled.
Of late, Matiang’i factor is taking Gusii politics by storm and anybody who crosses with him finds the ground hostile.
Cheruiyot without fear, technically and tactfully dragged the name of Matiang’i into the Ruaraka corruption scandal, something that did not go down well with Matiang’i and a clique of his supporters.
Matiang’i, in a rare show of outrage burst with fits of anger telling off Cheruiyot who had made a sensational statement that Matiang’i met with Ruto in a bid to water down the Ruaraka Land Report before it would be tabled before the senate.
Cheruiyot said he received a hot call from Ruto to go to his office where he found Matiang’i and the DP.
According to Cheruiyot, the plan to dilute the senate report on Ruaraka land scam where Matiang’i was among the accused was hatched at the DP’s office.
“The deputy president gave me a hot call to me. I rushed there and found him with Matiang’i in the office. He asked me about the issues with the report and I told him it was witchhunt by the Homa Bay senator Moses Kajwang who is the chairman of parliamentary accounts committee,” the senator claimed.
Cheruiyot said he was the one who mobilised other lawmakers in the senate to water down the report which was directly implicating the CS and some other individuals.
Cheruiyot spoke this after telling the CS to prevail on a private Bill seeking to streamline tea farmers in the country.
When Matiang’i stood to speak after senators Sam Ongeri (Kisii), Okong’o Mogeni (Nyamira), Governor James Ongwae and his Nyamira counterpart John Nyagarama had spoken, he rubbished the sentiments of Cheruiyot terming them as a white lie.
In visible anger, Matiang’i told off Cheruiyot in Ekegusii saying: “Amang’ana buna aya omonto agokwana igaiga buna tokaumerana nobochoni naende oboochi obonene (what you have heard someone say that there was a meeting, that’s foolishness and stupidity)”
He told Cheruiyot to his face that he was lying over the alleged meeting and told him to be sincere in his words.
“What does it serve you to peddle lies when even God is a witness that there was no such a meeting? Let us always speak the truth because God sees when we lie,” he added.
Speaking in his native language, Matiang’i told members of his Kisii community to be united and reject outsiders who are out to divide them because of their selfish political interests.
He swore in the name of God that he has never met the deputy president in his office over the Ruaraka land saga as it was being claimed by the Kericho senator.
Cheruiyot in his speech further told the Kisiis to support Ruto for the seat of presidency owing to the fact he has political experience and more is development conscious compared to Matiang’i.
“I’m told you have you your own bull just as we do but I believe that ours is more experienced than yours and when that right time comes, I hope you consider that and do the necessary,” he told the mourners.
Raising the Ruaraka issue was obviously aimed at telling the mourners that Matiang’i was not a clean person when it comes to scandals as some people were thinking.
Cheruiyot without mincing words told Matiang’i to his face that despite being a super minister, he had failed to address the challenges facing the tea industry in which the Kisiis and Kalenjins communities have deeply invested in.
He told Matiang’i who sat restlessly to team up with the Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri in making sure that the prices of the tea sector and the bonus in particular have improved.
Responding to Cheruiyot’s allegations, Ongeri said this was a scheme calculated at injuring the reputation of Matiang’i and undermining his ambition for the top seat.
Ongeri told Cheruiyot that the Kisii community through Matiang’i is prepared for the seat of presidency come 2022 and challenged him to lead his community to reciprocate through support.
“The seat of presidency is not a preserve for two or three communities. As Kisiis, we are also capable of producing a president and what we are begging for is total support from all communities, particularly those which have had an opportunity to lead this country,” he stated.
He also asked Kisii elected leaders who were against Matiang’i to come back and support of their own.
Senator Ongeri defended Matiang’i over the matter saying the alleged meeting never happened.
Gusii parliamentary caucus chairman Joash Nyamoko who led the pro-Ruto team told other leaders that the Gusii community cannot stand alone politically and issued caution to those who are talking ill of leaders from other communities. Nyamoko challenged the elected leaders from Nyamira and Kisii counties to support Ruto for the seat of presidency come 2022 general elections arguing that Ruto is the right person to succeed Uhuru Kenyatta.
The Ruto group also dismissed the Matiang’i team which is currently rooting for the unity of the Kisii community ahead of the next general election terming the call as a political gimmick and not genuine.
The pro-Ruto MPs – Joash Nyamoko (North Mugirango),Vincent Kemosi (West Mugirango) and Shadarak Mose (Kitutu Masaba) told the mourners that the deputy president, owing to his political experience, was the suitable person to take over from Uhuru, citing that he was also development conscious person compared to his competitors .
Nyamoko said that those who were clamouring for the unity of the community were doing so because of their selfish political ambitions and asked members of the community to ignore them.
He wondered why it has now become a culture that when the elections are due, it is when some leaders come out and start talking about the unity of the community.
Kemosi on his part said they were ready to support any Kisii leader for the top seat but unfortunately none has come out to declare his interest.
He also called for respect among elected leaders saying that some leaders dividing the community thus becoming a hindrance in supporting their preferred choice for the seat of presidency.
Mose asked members of the Abaguisii to rally behind Ruto saying he has made more strides compared to Matiang’i who is yet to declare his interest for the top seat.
Perturbed by their sentiments, Kisii county governor Ongwae who was present cautioned the legislators who he said were undermining and derailing Matiang’i’s candidature for the top seat