It has now emerged that the Embrace Women Initiative, officially launched by Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru and Homa Bay Women Representative Gladys Wanga is aimed at countering Deputy President William Ruto’s Tanga Tanga Movement.
According to sources privy to the inner workings at Orange Democracy Movement (ODM) party Headquarters, the movement, christened Embrace Women Building Bridges Initiative, which initially camouflaged as a unity-focused soldiery and a voice for gender equality is returning to its core mandate of stopping Ruto’s political prevalence.
From the onset, there were doubts over the vision of the movement, with Waiguru’s statement during its launch, calling on the Deputy President to stop early campaigns and fully support the handshake, causing discomfort within Ruto’s camp.
“We stand with His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta and Rt Hon. Raila Odinga in rejecting early campaigns that are polarising this country and opening wounds, when elections are more than three years away,” she said.
This statement by the former Devolution Cabinet Secretary was echoed by Gladys Wanga who stated: “We are going to stand with His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta and His Excellency Raila Odinga in the new path they are leading this country in”.
Prior to this, President Kenyatta had in several occasions obliquely hit out at DP Ruto over his regular movements across the country, going as far as banning the launch of new projects in a bid to stop his treks.
And the wheels are now turning, with the Embrace Women Initiative group’s planned countrywide meetings kicking off in Mombasa last week, graced by Governor Hassan Joho and Gender CAS Rachel Shebesh in what observers say had the touch and feel of an ODM Women’s meeting.
The idea, according to insiders is for the conveners to ride on the handshake and the resultant political calm to push for a referendum that will favour Raila Odinga ahead of the 2022 elections.
In and by itself, the handshake, which is shrouded in secrecy, has kindled suspicion with Ruto’s allies seeing it as a strategy to block him from becoming president.
The Embrace Women Initiative group is filled with ODM members including Wanga, Likoni MP Mishi Mboko among others. The Only key Jubilee figures in the team are Waiguru, Shebesh, and Naomi Shaban (Taveta MP). So far, no Ruto-allied women legislator is associated with the initiative.
Cautious not to come out as pro-Raila, President Kenyatta had to give the group’s one year handshake anniversary celebrations a wide berth, with Raila Odinga and Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka the only party leaders in attendance.
It remains to be seen how Ruto’s stalwarts will counter this move and whether a pro-Ruto women group will emerge to neutralise the Embrace Women Building Bridges initiative.