For the majority of Kenyans, Mwangi Kiunjuri is the baby-faced, dimpled Agriculture cabinet secretary who speaks with a heavy Kikuyu accent.
He is an ambitious man too, who would begrudge him given his tumultuous journey to the top echelons of power?
Perhaps his story being akin to that of William Ruto, the hustling chicken seller who became a DP President is perhaps the foundation of their newfound camaraderie. He Kiunjuri was a tout.
Born in Nyeri 50 years ago, the young Kiunjuri had an average childhood, attending local primary and secondary schools before proceeding to Moi University where he pursued a Bachelor’s degree in education.
It was at the university that his interest in politics started after he joined the now-defunct Ford Party, which was led by veteran Opposition politicians Kenneth Matiba and the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga. He was as active politicians until 2013 when he fell into political Siberia after losing the Laikipia gubernatorial.
Notwithstanding the loss, Kiunjuri got a political lifeline in 2015 when President Kenyatta appointed him to succeed the more polished and articulate Anne Waiguru in the Devolution and Youth docket.
Mwangi Kiunjuri has been implicated in serious scandals at his current docket, Ministry of Agriculture which to some extent has led to the sour relationship with President Kenyatta whose main agenda currently is fighting corruption. He was on spot after he withdrew 1.8b shillings meant for Kenyan farmers to pay maize cartels. Reports indicated that the conceited efforts by the CS to import maize were a cover-up to try account for the millions he has already from the central bank to pay private companies for the importation of maize.
Agriculture PS in a letter says the Strategic Food Reserve was kept in the dark by Kiunjuri regarding the secret withdrawals only for them to find out; the money which was meant for farmers had already been paid to private businessmen.
It was during his vetting to become a CS that it became apparent just how much his financial fortunes had changed. According to a wealth declaration report by Parliament’s Committee on appointments, Kiunjuri declared his wealth to be valued at Sh798million as at December 2015; mainly from landholdings and buildings in Nanyuki, Sagana and Nairobi.
But Uhuru seemed to have fallen out with his favourite Mt Kenya CS and went on a series of public rants against CS who many agreed was exhibiting signs of defiance and incompetence. Soon he toed the line and his work and political ideologies gelled with that of Uhuru.
The CS warned Mt Kenya leaders against undermining party boss President Uhuru and emphasized the need for leaders in the region to speak in one voice and rally behind the head of state.
However, he has recently changed tune and blatantly defied Uhuru’s directive order to the Cabinet, raising speculations that his job may be on the line. Kiunjuri was captured in parliament grounds alongside Jubilee nominated senator who had called for a presser where they poked holes into BBI sounding a warning over the release of its highly anticipated report.
After the BBI reported was launched and released to the public, Kiunjuri led 59 MPs from Mt Kenya to a retreat sponsored by DP Ruto in Embu where they unanimously agreed to shoot down any calls for a referendum.
As the Mt Kenya succession battle hots up especially after Uhuru reiterated for the umpteenth time that he will retire from active politics in 2022, Ruto is said to be backing Kiunjuri to battle for the political edifice that is ‘Mt. Kenya Kingpin.’
Kiunjuri is the only CS from Mt Kenya who is currently all out in favour of Ruto. His decision also stems from claims that he was sidelined by his colleagues in the La Mada hotel meetings where allegedly assassination of the DP was discussed. The matter is in court.
Education Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiangi’s star continues shining as his no-nonsense approach to handling issues ripple around the country.
Born Fred Okengo Matiangi in Borabu, the father of two has a chequered career spanning university lecturing, global organisations’ consultations and working with Kenya’s parliament among others. Dr Matiang’i is a Seventh Day Adventist who is said to be devoted to excellence.
Matiang’i made a statement on Friday when he landed in for a fundraiser in Kirinyaga accompanied by six governors and more than 50 MPs. In his speech, the Super CS did not shy away from drumming up support for the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga whom he described as a statesman.
While taking a dig at Deputy President William Ruto and his Tanga Tanga group, Matiang’i said he and his Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho only take instructions from the President who appointed them.
A country is led like a family. Is there a family that is led by two men? No. A family is only led by one man,” he declared.
He also confidently said that Uhuru was aware of their presence in the region and had even sent him with his contribution.
“President Uhuru Kenyatta is aware we are here and sent us with his contribution, and the Honorable former Prime Minister Raila Odinga has also sent greetings and his contributions through ODM deputy party leader Hassan Joho,” he said.
Popular political pundit Mutahi Ngunyi believes president Uhuru Kenyatta might shock the nation by endorsing Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i as his successor.
In the past 12 months, Matiang’i has increased his public appearances, attending fundraising events in several parts of the country.
In January this year, President Uhuru made Matiang’i his chief minister when he appointed him the Chairperson of the National Development Implementation and Communication Committee, a role that put him at the heart of all government projects. Analysts claimed the position reduced the powers of the DP who has developed a habit of launching all government projects, most of which are nonexistent.
On his part, Raila has described Matiang’i as his son.
“He is my son. Kisii is my home. Go slow, I know how to plan on this.” Raila said during the burial of former Assistant Minister Hezron Manduku in August this year.
At the Kirinyaga event; both Kisii Governors James Ongwae (Kisii) and John Nyangarama (Nyamira) were present. This is another statement that the region is united behind the CS.
He has been described, variously, as amiable, humble, down-to-earth, respectful, easy-going, charming, warm, friendly, great listener, trustworthy, wonderful, honest, focused, confident, intelligent, charismatic, man of the people et cetera, et cetera.
Veteran journalist Jaduong’ Philip Ochieng’ Otani said, inter alia (Sunday Nation, March 17, 2013): “Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta is extraordinarily intelligent; even if you voted against him, Uhuru Kenyatta is your President; you owe him deep respect.
In the face of all unwarranted insults and ridicule, President Uhuru has maintained a demeanor of normalcy and soldiered on.
FILE PHOTO: Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta (L) greets opposition leader Raila Odinga of the National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition after addressing a news conference at the Harambee house office in Nairobi, Kenya March 9, 2018. REUTERS
Uhuru Kenyatta may be the most significant President this country has ever had in ways we may not have anticipated. The desire for many Kenyans has always been development, and rightly so.
As a developing nation, there is nothing more pressing than the need to build infrastructure and create an environment that can sustain modern life while offering citizens their best opportunity to prosper.
FILE PHOTO. TNA leader Uhuru Kenyatta and URP’s William Ruto during the Jubilee Coalition delegates conference at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, in Nairobi on December 23, 2012 PHOTO/COURTESY
Remarkably, when he was nominated as the presidential candidate for TNA at Kasarani in December 2012, his vision was to see a united and peaceful Kenya. Addressing a cheerful crowd, Mr Kenyatta pledged to establish a government anchored on unity, peace and economic development.
“The priority of my government is first to unite Kenyans, bring peace, and to jump-start our economy,” Mr Kenyatta told his supporters.
Selling DP Ruto to Mt. Kenya region was a tall task that President Uhuru had to accomplish before becoming the next President of Kenya. Ruto had been accused of being the master mind of Kikuyu massacre in Rift valley so the hatred that Kikuyu haboured for DP Ruto can never be compared with what they had for Raila Odinga.
Uhuru has always come out as the unifier President.
To this end, Uhuru’s administration has done relatively well.
From SGR to many miles of roads, the Government has indeed changed the infrastructure conditions for the nation.
The President has ensured an increase in electricity connection, made secondary school education cheaper and vastly improved NHIF services. He has done a lot and despite the challenges of corruption, we can all see changes we are thankful for. And if we forget, Building Bridges Initiative will remind us of how selfless Uhuru is.
These changes will stick to our nation well beyond his term as President and their impact will be higher than 3 SGR projects per year. Simply because if we save the Sh.1 trillion we lose annually to corruption, we will possibly be debt free in five years, or build infrastructure to every part of this country or even totally ensure education is free.
At the same time, Uhuru managed to unite the country by joining hands with Raila. The significance of the Handshake was immediately clear and relevant. The peace we now enjoy is immeasurable. Indeed, as we speak, we have seen present and past leaders, Opposition and ruling party leaders, winners and losers of elections all agree for once that the Handshake and the fight against corruption must be supported and must be continued
Random image of SGR
Be that as it may, the lords of impunity are lurking in the shadows, waiting to devour this baby (BBI) we have delivered. These are the demons and dragons of our past, and devour this baby they will, unless we, the people, say NO to them!
We must learn from the United States; we can’t replace a Lincoln with an Andrew Johnson. By which I mean, let us not elect any leader in any capacity who does not embrace the fight against corruption and the Building Bridges Initiative, for in these two lie the key to our peaceful and prosperous nation
Hon Yusuf Haji handing over BBI report to President Uhuru at Statehouse on 26th November 2019 Photo/Courtesy
Nyong’o, a political scientist, and Kisumu Governor told First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, who had visited the county, to tell the President “Kenyans are waiting for him to present his nomination papers again”. Mrs. Kenyatta was in Kisumu to launch elimination of mother-to-child transmission (eMTCT) campaign. Mozambique’s First Lady Isaura Nyusi was also present. Hundreds of residents turned up for a free medical camp Mrs. Kenyatta had organised.”
“In 2007, when I was the ODM secretary general, Kenyans waited to see the President present his nomination papers but he never did as the rest presented theirs,” Nyong’o said.
There were tense moments when Senate majority leader Kipchumba Murkomen was heckled by delegates in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s presence during the unveiling of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report at the Bomas of Kenya.
A staunch defender of Deputy President William Ruto who also was in attendance, Murkomen found himself on the receiving end of boos after suggesting that the organizers of the function had sidelined leaders allied to the DP.
“Your Excellency, we must have an honest discussion here; Junet even the way you are running the program. It will be a lie for me to leave this stage without saying that this program has been skewed to leave other people out who have different opinions,” said Murkomen.
The fiery Senator insisted that for a united and honest nation, there was need to accept different views as pertains to the BBI report.
“We must say it as it is! If we are going to build an honest Kenya then we must be able to put our views on the ground and it starts with who mobilised the people who came to this podium! Because if this podium will be used to lecture other people and give other people views, we must come out and speak,” he said.
Despite the jeering crowd, the Elgeyo Marakwet legislator insisted that leaders should never be allowed to sanitize politics at the expense of Kenyans.
The visibly irate Murkomen condemned what he termed as exclusion during the event saying that every leader has a right to be heard.
“As leaders who have come here to seek for national unity and to say that this is not about politics of exclusion of other people, I demand to be heard and my views be heard and my views to be heard just like any other citizen of the Republic of Kenya,” said Murkomen.
His ardent speech forced BBI team leader Yusuf Haji to intervene and ask the jeering crowd to show respect.
Haji told the audience that they must allow Murkomen to speak and share his opinion.
Murkomen then continued, acknowledging that while he had earlier on been skeptical about the BBI, he was indeed proud of the document.
“I slept at 4am reading the 15-page document and I must say to Senator Haji and your team that I am very proud,”said Murkomen.
He reiterated the Senate’s commitment to strengthen devolution and send resources to the grassroots for people at the local level get an opportunity to do business.
“We will prioritize not the positions for the big boys but for the opportunities for the young people, tea farmers, coffee farmer and every citizen of this country to have an opportunity,” said Murkomen.
Ironically he ended his remarks with cursing the delegates, “Kwendeni huko”
We can and only should be an optimistic nation. Initiative after initiative has been undertaken to improve the people’s well being as a nation. Independence was meant to free us from the chains of colonialism. Multipartism was meant to make Kenya a land of democracy and create more freedom that also entailed press freedom. The Bomas draft took the country towards a new dimension landing on the promulgation of the new constitution in August 2010. All these efforts have been in the quest of making Kenya prosperous, stable and peaceful nation. A nation that embraces the cultural diversity of its people. A nation of promise with visionary leaders who should be focused on guiding the country towards a middle-income nation.
Kenya is a great nation and a great nation must be sustained by political stability that will spearhead the country towards prosperity. However, over the past we must acknowledge that as a country we have suffered major atrocities that have majorly been caused by leadership wrangles founded on deep seated issues of tribalism, fight for land ownership, power struggles and social injustices that have occurred over the years. We face challenges as a country to date and these challenges are what we must rectify. The President has even acknowledged that the country is facing challenges when he said ‘Only a fool will say there are no issues in this country that require addressing’.
The 2007 Post Election Violence was one of the worst atrocities that has ever occurred in this country. Kenyans suffered in unimaginable lengths and depths. Lives were lost, property was burnt. Women, men and children; all suffered the rage and rant of the violence that no one had envisioned to occur as we went about predisposed to our political rhetoric. We went about spewing rage and hatred towards each other chanting and singing war songs against our friends, neighbours, workmates and anyone we considered to be of a different view. We were not relentless on showing our tribal inclinations and castigating communities that were not part of our political party or were not those of our leader. Our leaders had successfully fed each Kenyan the poison of tribalism and we had allowed it to dictate our lines of operation as a nation.
And what was the resultant effect? A highly polarized nation that began fighting from within. Vengeance, hatred, deceit, death, destruction was the devil that was burgeoning us. Fire and gunfire, spears and arrows cut through the wind racing down to our brothers and sisters; knives, pangas and machetes were drawn out and used as the weapon of choice; stones were our new rain and safety was dismal and only found within our tribal cocoons. What had become of us? What had become of Kenya our motherland? Utter darkness and doom.
This is not Kenya, this is not the Kenya we want and not the Kenya that should be. A bad memory the country would wish to forget; but it happened and we are still living through the effects. Fortunately, we have a new dawn, we have a new chance to ensure we are never divided as a country through our leadership or tribal inclinations. The opportunity to sort out our wrongs are here and the journey already started through the promulgation of the new constitution. However, we have a long road ahead as we need to deal with the shortfalls of the constitution, sort out our leadership structure and ensure that every electioneering period is a period of selecting sound leadership, a period that we look forward to, without causing any form of political instability. Let us look through and look into the lenses of successful nation building and use what is in our hands to correct what is ailing us as a country.
The Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) is a very important facility that must not be tampered with. NG-CDF cash is not pocket money for MPs. If anything, such an important facility should be strengthened.
It facilitates important development needs such as roads, school infrastructure, security infrastructure and bursaries. Leaders are elected by everybody and it is only fair the NG-CDF is used to improve the livelihoods of constituents.
When Constituency Development Fund (CDF) acquired its new name, National Government Constituencies Development Fund (NG-CDF), it meant that there would be more money for schools and security-related projects such as police stations and police posts, as well as bursaries.
This meant that CDF committees in constituencies were to be disbanded and fresh ones be set up under the new system. The MPs were to be more of observers than active participants in deciding how the fund is used, they were to also mobilize communities in coming up with projects that would benefit the whole community.
Nevertheless, the MPs forcefully oversee use of the funds and have a say on who sits in management committees.
Consequently, the Fund has been a pet project for MPs, who over the years have been using it to buy loyalty and financial muscle to campaign against their opponents, read (2022 succession battles).
About Sh5 billion is allocated to the NG-CDF in each of the 290 constituencies annually but the audit has revealed many constituencies have no documentation to back up huge expenses.
If managed better, NG-CDF money does small things with big impact, such as bursaries, improved roads and hospital infrastructure.
Former Auditor-General Edward Ouko had raised the red flag over blatant misuse of billions of shillings allocated to the National Government-Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF).
In the report, the Auditor General further revealed that bursary funds had also become a cash cow for “greedy” leaders. For instance in Laikipia East, Sh9.3 Million was set aside for bursary purposes with Limuru and Mukurweini constituencies allocating Sh4.9 and Sh5 Million respectively, funds that Ouko said could not be accounted for.
Former Kasarani MP Elizabeth Ongoro and her husband Ferdinand Masha Kenga have been summoned over Ksh. 48 million that was meant for construction of Kasarani Girls’ High School. Eight years ago, Masha Kenga was arrested and charged with stealing Ksh. 1.9 million from a CDF kitty.
The outspoken Gatundu South legislator Moses Kuria who has in the past accused President Uhuru Kenyatta of abandoning the Mt Kenya region in terms of development has a case to answer after it was revealed that he had incorporated his relatives in Gatundu’s CDF committee who went ahead and allocated a company run by his wife big tenders.
MPs, and women representatives who ought to oversee cash utilization, tend to deploy the money with political goals in mind.
They either spend it in areas where they have strong support at the exclusion of other areas or devote the resources to activities that give short-term populist results but are hardly sustainable.
Thus, ridiculous cases have been reported of MPs spending the cash on funerals or building houses for constituents. Often, projects stall when new MPs are elected.
Matters have been compounded with devolution, which came with a bigger basket for cash flow to the regions, creating room for project duplication or delay in execution.
Another fund that is equally being used as a tool to campaign for 2022 succession politics is NGAAF. NGAAF is anchored on the Vision 2030 development blue print under the Social Pillar to address the plight of vulnerable groups through enhanced access to financial facilities for socio-economic empowerment among women, youth, Persons with Disabilities, needy children and elderly persons in the country.
Contrary to this, the Inua Mama Initiative has since politicized this fund and only supporting women groups that have aligned themselves to DP Ruto’s 2022 presidential bid. It is no longer on need bases but on ‘whose side you are on’ bases.
In Laikipia for instance, there is one group of women who have received cheques of Ksh4million and Ksh2.5million within the same budget year yet other groups have been applying severally for the same and not even a coin has been approved.
In his financial year ending June 2018 report, Auditor General Edward Ouko painted a gloomy picture of the ongoing at the kitty. These defeats the efforts woman MPs put in agitating for development funds similar to the National Government Constituency Development Fund.
Consequently, investigative authorities must take up the Auditor-General’s reports and institute comprehensive inquiries with a view of prosecuting those who misappropriate or misuse CDF cash.