Ministers, governors lock horns over 2022 campaign accusations

Tuesday, June 30th, 2020 00:00 |
Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru. FILE PHOTO.

Three Cabinet Secretaries and two Principal Secretaries are in the eye of a storm over claims of undermining sitting governors as they angle for gubernatorial seats in the next General Election.

Recent moves by the CSs and PSs have rattled the governors, who accuse them of breaching the law by engaging in politics while holding public offices.

While the officers who have been making tours purportedly to inspect national government projects have not officially announced their respective bids, their actions and body language and the animosity between them and county bosses have left  little to imagination.

The three CSs include Peter Munya (Agriculture), Sicily Kariuki (Water) and Joe Mucheru (ICT) while the PSs are Karanja Kibicho (Interior and National Coordination) and Joseph Irungu (Water).

Whereas Munya is accused of undermining the leadership of Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi who trounced him in the last General Election, Kariuki and Mucheru have come under fire for allegedly using their Cabinet positions to undermine Nyandarua Governor Francis Kimemia and his Nyeri counterpart Mutahi Kahiga, respectively.

Ugly confrontations

In Kirinyaga County, Governor Anne Waiguru’s supporters are accusing Kibicho of orchestrating her recent political tribulations including her impeachment by  Members of the County Assembly (MCAs).     

Governor Kiraitu Murungi.

In Murang’a County, supporters of Governor Mwangi wa Iria have been engaging in ugly confrontations with those of Water  PS Irungu who the governor accuses of undermining his leadership while preparing to run for the gubernatorial seat in the 2022 election. Wa Iria is serving his second and final term.

Yesterday,  Dr Richard Bosire, a Political Science lecturer at the University of Nairobi, down-played the murmurs of discontent from allies of the affected governors, saying there was nothing unusual for public servants to use their positions, offices and resources to market themselves or prop up their allies.

“Governors being politicians will always protest and claim that there are CSs and PSs who are fighting and undermining them because they want to endear themselves to the public as they clearly know that the former could be candidates in 2022,” Bosire said.

In Nyandarua, Water CS Kariuki has been making “development tours” in the county, rattling Governor Kimemia and his supporters and although she has not declared her interest, the governor has accused her of using State resources to launch her bid to dethrone him in 2022.

Whe she was Health CS, Kariuk was known for staging high-profile medical camps in the county including the opening of the Ndaragwa Kenya Medical Training College in July last year and at the Water docket, she has toured the Sh200-million Karagoini water project in Ndaragwa and last month, she distributed 10,000 avocado seedlings to locals.

Yesterday, Kimemia did not respond to our calls but last month, while distributing subsidised fertiliser to farmers at Njabini Farmers Training Centre, he challenged the CS to declare her interest in the county instead of hiding behind development tours.

Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria.

“We have seen people going around the county pretending to be inspecting government projects when we know they are campaigning,” he said in reference to Kariuki’s development tours in the region, some, which Kimemia feels, are not even under her docket like distribution of avocado seedlings.

Born and married

However, Kariuki, who was born in Embu, but married in the county, rubbished the claims, saying her tours are purely geared towards development, and that she has never at any time talked or behaved in a manner to suggest she is interested in politics.

 “Today (yesterday) as we were speaking, I was in Baringo and in the morning I was in Naivasha. On Friday, I was in Embu. The week before I was in Murang’a and Makueni.

Could I also be interested in seats in those counties? We have a mandate to deliver and I am wondering, when it comes to Nyandarua I should be delegating so that people don’t think that I am eyeing a seat? Kariuki posed.

 “The President has told us to work because elections are still far away. There is still time for people to decide.

Work must be done but if someone gets a reason to fear, they will say whatever they want. But for me, delivering my mandate is my priority and I am not about to stop,” she added.

 In Meru, Kiraitu has repeatedly complained about Munya’s forays in the county.  The differences between Kiraitu and Munya came to the fore during the Mount Kenya Building the Bridges Initiative (BBI) rally at Kinoru Stadium in Meru when the CS told off the governor.

Yesterday, Munya rubbished the claims that he is using his office to seek a comeback, and in a text message to the People Daily wondered: “And who is he (Kiraitu) undermining to advance his (re-election) bid?”

The name of CS Mucheru has also been dragged into the differences between Nyeri Governor Kahiga and his deputy Caroline Karugu , with the CS being accused of aiding the DG to allegedly belittle her boss.

Nyandarua Governor Francis Kimemia.

The claims followed a May 21 incident when Mucheru and Kahiga presided over the launching of a film hub project at the Dedan Kimathi University of Technology. 

Kahiga had arrived early at the function, and protocol demands that as the county boss, he ought to have welcomed the minister.

But when the CS’s motorcade arrived, Karugu alighted from the same vehicle with the CS, a move that was interpreted as disrespectful to the governor.

The CS’s conduct attracted criticism from Nyeri Town Member of Parliament Ngunjiri Wambugu, who termed it bad behaviour, warning that they will not allow deputy governors to undermine their bosses.

Bad behaviour

“Cabinet Secretaries behaving badly yet we  purport to be upset that Deputy President  William Ruto is disrespecting and undermining his boss, and then allow CSs - who work for the President - to facilitate Deputy Governors to undermine their bosses…. we cannot then now allow a CS to help a DG do the same to their boss and governor,” said Wambugu, a friend of Kahiga.  Mucheru did not respond to our calls and text messages yesterday but Kahiga, through his personal assistant Nahashon Mung’ora, downplayed the incident , saying the two are in “good working relationship”.

Lays ground

“There is nothing personal between me and CS Mucheru. Those saying that there are differences between us are not telling the truth,” Kahiga told the People Daily.

In Murang’a, the animosity between Wa Iria and Irungu has taken an ugly twist with the duo not only exchanging harsh words publicly, but also mobilising goons to attack each other.

Wa Iria claims the PS is using government projects to advance his 2022 governorship bid. Last week, a section of Murang’a leaders, led by former presidential aspirant Peter Kenneth, Gatanga MP Ngugi Nduati, his Mathioya counterpart Peter Kimari, accompanied the PS to Mithandukuini village in Gatanga where they encouraged him to seek the governorship and pledged their support. 

“The PS has been traversing this county purporting to commission the projects funded by the national government and he is using them to lay ground for his political ambition. If the PS wants to play politics he should resign and come to the ground where we will face each other squarely, “ said Governor Iria. 

In response, Irungu said: “I am doing what I have been ordered to do and my work is to ensure that we increase water connection in every part of this county”. 

In Kirinyaga, Waiguru claims Kibicho is behind her woes and has told him to “stop politicising county projects for self-gain”.

But last week while fighting claims that he engineered her impeachment, the PS said; “I come from Kirinyaga County but have never declared interest in politics and I have no intentions to do so. I am a public servant. Why would I engage in local politics? To gain what?

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