Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri burst into the limelight after taking President Uhuru Kenyatta’s ‘washenzi’ slur personally. Thought to be in hiding as police sought him, he has come out to deny claims he was being sponsored by Deputy President William Ruto. In a tell-all interview with a local daily, he said the President has substituted his assistant with Nasa leader Raila Odinga, warning him that ‘people are watching’.
Is DP Ruto sponsoring you to revolt against Uhuru?
My age and principles do not allow me to be bribed… Assertions that I have been bribed hold no water. I’m only speaking what my people want me to.
Are you serious about the Washenzi movement?
No. That was just a statement from boys having a talk. They made the T-shirts. We are past such movements and there’s no such formation.
Why did you make those statements?
I was not happy with [Uhuru’s] washenzi remarks. The environment where he made them was wanting … We felt betrayed.
We are demanding our rights in constituencies just like anyone else. When others demand, he doesn’t abuse them, but we who voted for him are abused, and that is not fair.
Projects are undertaken countrywide under CDF and devolution, but we are demanding a share of the national cake. In Bahati, I have no single tarmacked road. He promised me dams in 2013, nothing has been done … I know there are other priorities, but I am just airing my views so I can be remembered.
Is there an MoU for Mt Kenya to back Ruto?
There is no MoU. People are using this phrase as if there is a debt. There’s no such thing. If I buy you three Tuskers, it’s wise for you to buy me one. That’s how it works. Ruto has played a big role to ensure Uhuru clinched the presidency and we have seen peace after they joined hands.
The 2007-08 violence was brought about by political confusion, just the way it’s turning out.
Are you adding fuel to the fire?
When demanding rights, we are not setting any fire. The media is blowing up the matter of succession. This has started dividing us. Uhuru told us we give him 10 years and he will back Ruto for another 10. He said we should back Ruto and we are fully supporting that, so we haven’t done anything wrong.
It [succession] is not automatic … The attitude that if ‘we’ have a President, then the area is satisfied [is wrong]. We are not demanding because we have a President. Kikuyus have been in power for 35 years and if that was the case, we could be very far ahead in development. That’s why I’m suggesting let somebody else take the presidency, so maybe Kikuyus will have a right to demand like other communities.
What’s the relationship between Uhuru and Ruto?
There is a big problem we do not know. The President has not told us. If the DP has wronged him, let him speak. We cannot peg accusations to the phrase that he is very corrupt to turn [our] back on him …
Did police hunt for you?
Those were rumours but I’d be happy if they did. I’ve been there before. I have fought many fights for President Uhuru and will do anything for him. I tore into Koigi wa Wamwere when he insulted Uhuru and his family. I descended on [Senator Johnson] Muthama when we passed the Security Bill in 2014, and I chased Raila in Nakuru when he wanted demos.
Where do you see Rift Valley if Mt Kenya revolts against DP Ruto?
We are very okay if they revolted. Kikuyus in Rift Valley are backing Uhuru’s call to 2022… We are advocating a free democratic society, and thus everyone is entitled to their opinions.
Is the handshake to blame for Jubilee’s woes?
There’s a problem. Kalenjins have been voting as a bloc for a Kikuyu President since 2002 … The same people who took him (Uhuru) to The Hague are the same people dining with him. When he is calling his MPs washenzi, he’s in the company of those who’ve been fighting him …
Uhuru needs to balance between uniting the country and having time for those who took him to where he is. Currently he has ignored his people, even the elders are cursing, he has substituted his assistant for Raila and people are watching.
Why should he invite Raila to Mombasa to discuss Cabinet-making as rumored, yet Ruto is busy launching projects here and there?
What did Uhuru mean about a shocker for 2022?
…When he says there will be a shocker, people read betrayal. Uhuru has become so defensive about 2022 and he will do what it takes to avoid the debate. Even when talking to journalists, everyone saw how he reacted to the questions. With such signals, it is clear he is not up to any good.
If he really means to unite the country, he should give everyone a chance and not just Raila and Ruto. We have [Musalia] Mudavadi and Kalonzo [Musyoka] and other Kenyans, too.
What would you tell Uhuru today?
You are our boss. Put Kenyans together, be more careful in your statements and make clear that everybody will be given an opportunity.
Denounce [Kiambu Governor Ferdinand] Waititu’s witch-hunting remarks. Move away from [former Jubilee vice chair David] Murathe. People know how close you are and believe him. We know he was forced to resign but please make yourself clear that those were not your words.
What would you tell Raila today?
We know your history and have documented your record of confusion. We know wherever you go there must be confusion and that is what you have brought to our Jubilee house.
Include the DP in your equation. If you divide, history will judge you.
What’s your message for Ruto?
You won with Uhuru. You have worked so hard. Be calm and patient and God will reward you. Let your community not join in beating war drums. If it [the presidency] is meant for you, no one will take it. We have seen great cohesion between Kikuyus and Kalenjins because you chose to work with one of our own.
Should there be a referendum?
It’s very tricky at the moment. Wanjiku wants it because a lot of taxation sustains government structure. Kenyans want a Constitution to reduce the cost of living, not add more seats. Do away with nominated seats. However, signals indicate … all is aimed at creating more seats to accommodate losers, and that is not true democracy.
If we intend to have constitutional change, we should prioritise how to have a strong opposition to keep the government in check. If we all of us went to bed [together], as is the case, who will watch the children, who will be in the kitchen?