- The emergence of the Kieleweke group has led to the crystallisation of team Tanga Tanga, a fiercely ambitious mix of youthful politicians backing Dr Ruto.
- Fans argue that Dr Ruto is more accessible and pressures ministries and parastatals to fast-track projects, while getting an appointment with the President is not easy.
The Jubilee Party’s symbol is two clasped hands, signifying unity.
But currently, the hands have turned into clenched fists as various groups in the party and their financiers lock horns in what is turning out to be a fight for the heart and soul of the party.
The party is split into three factions. One is the pro-William Ruto team Tanga Tanga. Then there is the Kieleweke group, calling for a stop to campaigns for 2022 but insists that the DP will not be the party's automatic candidate.
It is led by Nyeri Town MP Wambugu Ngunjiri. The third group oscillates between the two, with its focus on the presidency, within or without Jubilee.
Its members include Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria, and former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth.
Some have backup plans, just in case the Jubilee marriage ends in a messy divorce.
Team Tanga Tanga is being led by youthful lawmakers under the "hustlers" tag.
They include Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen, Meru Senator Mithika Linturi, and MPs Didmas Barasa (Kimilili), Rigathi Gachagua (Mathira), Kimani Ngunjiri (Bahati), and Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu).
The Kieleweke group is perceived as anti-Ruto and comprises mostly political veterans, including former Jubilee Vice-Chair David Murathe, and MPs Maoka Maore (Igembe), Maina Kamanda (nominated), Paul Koinange (Kiambaa) and Muturi Kigano (Kangema).
Most of Central Kenya’s 2017 losers are also in this group and blame the DP for their loss in the party’s primaries.
They include former Kiambu Governor William Kabogo and former Mukurweini MP Kabando wa Kabando.
Most of the elected leaders in the larger Mt Kenya region owe their allegiance to Dr Ruto, while the losers in the last General Election have thrown their weight behind the President, hoping that his rapport with Mr Raila Odinga will give them a lifeline.
Just how did the clasped hands become clenched fists a year after the elections?
The starting shot was fired by Mr Ngunjiri and Mr Kuria early last year.
Shortly after the dust of the 2017 polls settled, Mr Kuria attended a Ruto rally in January 2018 and assured the DP of Mt Kenya region's votes.
He said it was akin to the region giving the DP a post-dated votes cheque, which would be cashed in 2022.
“He wanted to promise our votes to Dr Ruto without us discussing what was in it for the community.
"For Dr Ruto to support Uhuru in 2013, the President made several promises, which he kept. What has Ruto promised us in 2022 so we can support him?” Mr Ngunjiri, the face of the Kieleweke squad, asked during an interview Thursday.
He says the meaning of the group's name is obvious. “It means, 'Why don’t you guys see the impact (of your early campaigns)? If you don’t get it now, you will soon get it, utaelewa baadaye (you will understand later) and thus kitaeleweka (it will be understood),"' he explained.
During a parliamentary group meeting on August 30, 2017, President Kenyatta asked Jubilee MPs not to campaign for the next four years and pledged to campaign for Dr Ruto towards the end of his term.
“After four years, I will lead the campaign for Ruto,” he said. But that was before his election was nullified the next month as the country went back to campaign mode.
The Nyeri Town MP and his group have three conditions they want Dr Ruto to fulfil to earn their support: He must let President Kenyatta finish his term in peace; tell Mt Kenya voters what they will get in return for their support in 2022; and promise to ensure the country remains peaceful whether or not Mt Kenya voters back him.
“Most of those terms can be evaluated only as we get closer to 2022. That is the point we are trying to make,” Mr Ngunjiri said.
The group is perceived to have the backing of powerful State House operatives, who feel the early campaigns are undermining the presidency.
“We are not a creation of State House. But, of course, every president has his men and women interested in ensuring he succeeds. Our interests and their interests converge so we work together,” he offered.