Embattled former Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri has sensationally claimed that President Uhuru Kenyatta duped him, only to leave him high and dry.
Speaking on Sunday while attending mass at the Nanyuki PCEA Church, the ex-CS accused President Kenyatta of kicking him out of Cabinet for speaking out against issues affecting the Mt. Kenya region.
Kiunjuri, who is now exactly one month in the cold outside Cabinet, alleged that he was set up for failure as his Ministry was starved of cash, adding that he is a victim of selective witch hunt by a system he fell out with.
Kiunjuri’s Political history
When Kiunjuri’s mentor, former President Mwai Kibaki, was elected President in 2002 – the former tout from Nanyuki was picked as Assistant Minister for Energy, a position which he held until 2007.
Kiunjuri would later play a key role in Kibaki’s re-election in 2007 but to his surprise, Kibaki picked him to become Water Assistant Minister.
An angry Kiunjuri immediately called for a press conference where he dismissed President Kibaki’s appointment as too junior for him.
He had expected a Cabinet ministerial position but instead, he was demoted from the lucrative Energy Ministry to the less glamorous Water Ministry.
The man from Laikipia would a few days later make a surprise appearance at State House where he was sworn in for the same Assistant Ministerial position he had rejected.
It was a big but strategic humble pie for the former tout who had an increasingly bulging ego.
In private, he often bragged that the Laikipia East MP’s seat was his until 2030 when he would leave it to his son Kiunjuri.
In 2010, his stay at the Water Ministry came to an abrupt end after a highly publicized scuffle with his boss and then Water Minister, Charity Ngilu, whom he accused of engaging in corruption.
Kiunjuri had punched above his weight and Ngilu emerged victorious after President Kibaki replaced Kiunjuri with Ferdinand Waititu.
As Kibaki’s term came to an end, Kiunjuri started strategizing for a position as the Mt. Kenya kingpin.
While still serving on a PNU parliamentary ticket, he worked with the late Nderitu Gachagua to co-found the Grand National Union (GNU), serving as party leader while Gachagua took over as Secretary General.
“In 2011, Gachagua and I decided to field a candidate during a ward by-election in Othaya. What we did not know was that President Kibaki was following the by-election and in the last week, he decided to come campaign for his party’s candidate. We immediately retreated although we refused to withdraw our candidate,” he said of the incident.
Despite the daring political chess move, Kiunjuri was not to be the regional kingpin as Uhuru Kenyatta emerged as the region’s favorite under the TNA party.
But Kiunjuri was willing to flex his muscles – he declined to fold his GNU party which he used to contest the Laikipia gubernatorial election, while at the same time supporting Kenyatta’s presidential candidature.
“I was winning the Laikipia seat until a week to the election when I saw Uhuru in red choppers. From there things went south very fast,” he recalled.
He lost to a little known Joshua Irungu whose only strength was vying on the TNA party that was dominant in the region.
After two years in the political cold, Mwangi Kiunjuri got a major political boost when President Kenyatta picked him to replace Anne Waiguru as Devolution CS.
His appointment to the Cabinet, critics say, was a new lease of life that saved him from political damnation.
At the time, political experts would claim that he was being groomed to take over Central Kenya’s leadership after Uhuru retired.
The rain however came in torrents when the Jubilee Government assumed a second term and Kiunjuri took a different path.
But Kenyatta’s insiders insist that the President will remain as the Mt Kenya kingpin even if he retires in 2022 – a reality that increasingly alienated Kiunjuri.
The former CS, having close allies in the political class, used his influence to undermine and issue ultimatums on the BBI process which has become President Kenyatta’s pet project.
During the burial of Martha Gachagua, the mother to Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua, Kiunjuri is reported to have refused to address complaints raised regarding Agriculture related matters – according to Kieni MP Kanini Kega, a close Uhuru ally.
That incident, may have sealed his fate.
Political observers have in the past few weeks opined that Kiunjuri’s character was that of a man who was desperate to be sacked – perhaps believing it would be easier to snatch Kenyatta’s political power in an adversarial contest as opposed to the silent maneuvers that have characterized their relationship.