With barely three years to go before the next general election, civil servants allied to Uhuru Kenyatta are identifying and earmarking elective seats to contest for in the transitional 2022 general elections in fear that change of regime will mean the end of their civil service career given that they have not been in good books with some of those who might be calling the shots in the new dispensation.
Already, almost a half of the president’s cabinet and principal secretaries have started preparing for the next elections.
Amongst those who are preparing the ground for soft landing just in case are powerful Internal Security CS Fred Matiang’i and his PS Karanja Kibicho, Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa, CS without portfolio Raphael Tuju and the head of presidential delivery unit Nzioka Waita among others.
The government officials, aware that the next president might not consider them for reappointment are preparing to go for elective seats as they seek to find relevance in a post-Uhuru government.
In Central Kenya, first to make his stand public was Agriculture cabinet secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri who declared he was positioning himself for the deputy president’s seat in 2022, a declaration that has opened the lid into the political ambitions of members of the executive.
Of the 22 cabinet members, at least 10 have, at one time or the other, played a part in politics and are now reviving their political careers in readiness for the post-Uhuru era.
Kiunjuri who dropped his bid for the Laikipia county governor’s post at the last minute in 2017, has declared that he is the suitable candidate for a running mate.
Apart from Kiunjuri, Peter Munya of Trade ministry has come out to show interest in politics after the Uhuru era.
Recently, Munya attended a Party of National Unity meeting at Kasarani, Nairobi.
The party, under which he served as party leader going into 2017, is seeking to revamp itself ahead of the next general election.
Munya does not disguise the fact that he is interested in recapturing the Meru governor’s seat he lost to Kiraitu Murungi in 2017 and hopes to have a strengthened PNU to take on the incumbent.
He has already got the endorsement of a number of leaders from the county.
Some members of Uhuru’s first term cabinet contested and won governor seats include Kirinyaga’s Anne Waiguru, Kajiado’s Joseph Ole Lenku and Kitui’s Charity Ngilu. Nyandarua’s Francis Kimemia who was secretary to cabinet in the early days of Uhuru era having been inherited from Mwai Kibaki was shown the door by Uhuru.
All the four were dropped from the cabinet but found their way to the top county seats. Gubernatorial seats are currently the most lucrative political positions in the country after the president and his deputy.
Murang’a county water and sanitation principal secretary Joseph Irungu is believed to be preparing to contest the seat.
The current holder, Mwangi Wa Iria is serving his second and final term. Wa Iria is said to be angling to be a running mate of a top presidential aspirant.
Insiders say Irungu has won the trust and confidence of Murang’a tycoons led by former Equity Bank chairman Peter Munga. The tycoons have no time for Wa Iria, whom they dismiss as good for nothing.
Also, the governor and Munga have been embroiled in a war of the control of water companies in Murang’a.
The differences made residents especially those served by Murang’a Water and Sanitation Company, whose chairman was Munga, go without water occasionally.
To endear himself to the electorate, Irungu has moved in to end the wars by announcing that the government will spend Sh180 million to sink boreholes to increase water accessibility to thousands of Murang’a residents.
Irungu said that in addition to sinking boreholes, the money will also be channeled for the construction of water pans purposely to harvest rain water for future use.
He explained that the projects are in line with Murang’a County Water Master Plan meant to achieve universal water accessibility in the county by 2022.
According to sources, the Murang’a tycoons, who in the last two general elections fronted Moses Mwangi, have now settled on the PS as the most suitable to assume the county’s leadership.
Former Planning PS Irungu Nyakera who recently was named Democratic Party deputy chairman is also said to be preparing to contest the seat.
The Democratic Party’s national executive committee picked to reorganise and revamp the party.
On October 26 2018, the delegates had passed a resolution to energise the party by injecting new blood into its leadership in readiness for the 2022 presidential elections.
But it is the current Water PS who is said to be the frontrunner in Wa Iria succession.
To cut his ambition, the governor has threatened to file a suit over push for revenue from water sourced from Muranga and supplied to Nairobi.
The governor claims the PS has been the stumbling block to Murang’a people to get clean drinking water from Ndakaini.
In Nyeri, former Kenya Defence Forces chief Julius Karangi is also said to be preparing to take on the incumbent Mutahi Kahiga in the 2022 gubernatorial race. Kahiga is a staunch support of William Ruto.
The General was among influential political, business, civil society and academia players from the Mt Kenya region who met at a Nairobi hotel to launch a lobby known as “High Level Uongozi Forum”.
Whereas the forum brought together political, business, cultural and thought leaders to discuss problems of declining agricultural production, bulging youth unemployment, and the security and instability this posed in the region and the nation as a whole, it is suspected its task was to identify suitable candidates for elective seats in 2022.
The launch of the forum comes at a time the region is in the throes of fierce supremacy battles between political actors elbowing each other for control of the direction it takes ahead of 2022 elections when Uhuru exits office.
Coming in the middle of a political storm over Uhuru succession political duels, the timing and the list of attendance by invitation comprising the most prominent senior citizens from the region sent a strong though not expressly stated political message that there were other stakeholders with a different agenda and concerns away from the vocal and more visible political class.
Among prominent names and panelists included chairman of the Central Region Economic Bloc Kimemia, his predecessor as head of public service, Francis Muthaura, Karangi, national assembly speaker Justin Muturi, Nakuru governor Lee Kinyanjui, Kiambu deputy governor James Nyoro and Narc Leader Martha Karua.
Others included Munga, former senators Mutahi Kagwe (Nyeri), Joseph Karaba (Kirinyaga), Kembi Gitura (Murang’a), former Meru and Nyeri women representatives Florence Kajuju and Priscilla Nyokabi.
In Kiambu, Energy principal secretary Joseph Njoroge is being fronted to contest the seat currently held by embattled Ferdinand Waititu. However, sources say that the PS has kept many guessing as he is currently busy with ministry matters.
Njoroge has been convening meetings of key political and religious to discuss development in the county.
Recently, he hosted a forum which lasted more than four hours and was attended by majority of area MPs, church leaders and several parastatal heads to discuss the county’s development.
Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Njoroge said the meeting focused on the status of government-funded projects in the county.
“We met with all county leaders together with technical officers from ministries implementing various projects to engage on progress, challenges and status of various project in the county,” he said.
The technical officers who attended the meeting were drawn from Roads, Water and Irrigation, Energy and Metropolitan Development departments.
Njoroge said the meeting was necessary to enable leaders share challenges and concerns hampering the implementation of various state-funded projects in the county so that they can be handled.
Those who attended the meeting included Nyoro, Thika MP Patrick Wainaina, Wanjiku Kibe (Gatundu North), Moses Kuria (Gatundu South), Gabriel Kago (Githunguri), Jonah Mburu (Lari), Peter Mwathi (Limuru) and Ruiru’s Simon King’ara.
Senator Kimani Wamatangi and woman representative Gathoni Wamuchomba and county commissioner Wilson Wanyanga were in attendance.
Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichungw’a, Francis Munyua (Juja) Jude Njomo (Kiambu Town), Paul Koinange (Kiambaa) and Kabete’s Githua Wamachukuru did not attend. All are Ruto’s allies.
If Njoroge heeds calls to contest the seat in 2022, he will face Nyoro, Wainaina and a host of other candidates.
Nyoro has now taken over the running of the county after a court barred Waititu from setting foot in his office until the criminal case he is facing is concluded.
But luck may be in Nyoro’s way if the county assembly passes a motion fronted by Elijah Njoroge, the Biashara ward MCA, to impeach Waititu or if the governor is jailed.
In Kirinyaga, sources say Waiguru stands a good chance of being re-elected in 2022 polls and is also in good books with Uhuru allies.
She will face Karua and a host of other aspirants.
Im Embu, Muturi a key ally of Uhuru is being fronted to contest the seat currently occupied by Martin Wambora who is serving his second and final term.
Muturi was among Mount Kenya political giants Ruto was fishing for a running mate.
In upper Mount Kenya region of Embu and Meru, Muturi by virtue of being the number three powerful man in the country, commands respect.
In the event anything happens to both Uhuru and his deputy leaving the president and deputy president’s seat vacant, Muturi will occupy the plum presidency seat.
Interestingly, Ruto endorsed Muturi for the Embu gubernatorial seat in 2022 polls during a prayer service for Manyatta MP John Muchiri in Kigari, Embu where he noted that the latter has enough experience.
Ruto who was accompanied by Mount Kenya leaders among them Waititu and nominated MPs Cecily Mbarire and Charles Kariuki (Mbeere North), said he will blame area MPs should the speaker fail to secure ‘what he is looking for’. Muturi is yet to publicly declare his bid for the seat.
Uhuru allies are copying from Kimemia who feeling the heat in Jubilee decided to run for governorship in 2017, and Kinuthia Mbugua who was close to president Kibaki and won Nakuru governorship 2013.
This is the same case in Laikipia county where Uhuru men are comfortable with Ndiritu Muriithi seeking a second and final term.
Another topmost official in government who has been sparring with Ruto is also being advised by those who care for his future to identify a political seat to contest because should Ruto become president, his would be the first head to roll. “Does this man know that he is a civil servant and it is only three years to the end