Did Uhuru Endorse Mariga to Calm Kimwarer Dam Storm?

President Uhuru Kenyatta together with other Jubilee party leaders when he endorsed Macdonald Mariga for Kibra race. Photo/Courtesy

On Wednesday, in a seemingly an unexpected move, President Uhuru Kenyatta met Jubilee Party candidate for the upcoming Kibra by-election, McDonald Mariga, at State House, Nairobi.

In his assurance, the Jubilee leader assured Mariga of his full backing in the by-election set for November 7, 2019.

Uhuru, in the presence of his deputy, William Ruto, party’s secretary-general, Raphael Tuju, National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale and Jubilee Party Chief Whip, Benjamin Washiali, wished Mariga success noting he would fully rally behind him in the race.

President Uhuru Kenyatta dresses Mariga a Jubilee Party cap at State House
President Uhuru Kenyatta when he endorsed Mariga for Kibra by-election.

This was contrary to the initial reports that Uhuru was not keen on having a candidate in the constituency, and that he had backed ODM’s Raila Odinga to avoid a political face-off, which could have affected the handshake.

But was Uhuru really genuine in his endorsement? Initially, there were claims that he gave in to pressure from Ruto’s camp for the outfit to have a candidate. The reports, however, remained claims that could not be substantiated.

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HZ in Keiyo South. This is where the cancelled Kimwarer dam project could have been constructed. Photo/File

Soon after Mariga was cleared by IEBC, a local daily quoted several officials in the president’s office who indicated that President Kenyatta would not campaign in Kibra as he was “too busy” with other matters.

With Wednesday’s endorsement, the head of state seemed to have changed tactics. But what really motivated him to endorse Mariga despite all the initial reports stating otherwise?

On Wednesday, the same day he endorsed Mariga’s candidature, Uhuru received a report on Kimwarer and Arror dams project.

After being briefed on the report by the technical committee, he Uhuru ordered the immediate cancellation of the Kimwarer project and a fresh commencement of the Arror Multipurpose Dam.

The committee, led by Principal Secretary for Infrastructure Prof. Paul Maringa, submitted that while both projects were overpriced, the Ksh22 billion Kimwarer dam was “neither technically nor financially viable” and should, therefore, be discontinued.

His decision to cancel the project would have definitely attracted bitter reactions from a section of the Rift Valley leaders.

In a swift move to neutralise the looming tension, some opinion shapers seem to suggest Uhuru endorsed Mariga, who is seen as DP Ruto’s man.

Many social media users opined that Uhuru’s trick could have succeeded since no leader, apart from Senate Majority Kipchumba Murkomen, questioned his decision.

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