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.