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The 10 Uhuru CSs who are eyeing elective seats and where they want to run

By Eric Wainaina
Friday, April 9th, 2021
President Uhuru Kenyatta.
In summary
    • Most of the high flying officers had been in politics before they were appointed to their current positions after losing in the 2017 General Election. They are now determined to reclaim their former seats.
    • With the BBI proposing half of the ministers to be picked from Parliament, some of the CSs have trained their eyes on parliamentary seats in the hope of making it back to the Cabinet.

Several senior public officers, among them Cabinet Secretaries, nursing political ambitions in 2022 have been forced to keep their aspirations under the carpet in line with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive against early campaigns.

 A number of CSs, Principal Secretaries, heads of state corporations and top civil servants are being touted to be angling for different political seats in next year’s general elections.

 In what is proving to be a delicate balancing act, some of the public officers intending to join Deputy President William Ruto’s camp to advance their chances of capturing political seats, have been forced to hold their horses for fear of reprisals.

 Besides, the uncertainty surrounding the possibility of the country holding a referendum through the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) has left some of the officers walking on egg shells.  “Unlike in previous cases when senior government officers could boisterously begin their campaigns more than a year before elections, this time round almost all of them are in a dilemma, not knowing what move to take,” one CS confided toPeople Daily.

 About half of Uhuru’s ministers, six PSs, 11 Chief Administrative Secretaries (CASs), a number of ambassadors, heads of commissions and parastatals and a top police officer have shown interest in various elective positions, a move that will require most of them to settle on a political party.­

 Most of the high flying officers had been in politics before they were appointed to their current positions after losing in the 2017 General Election. They are now determined to reclaim their former seats.

 Some of the names being mentioned as likely contestants in 2022 include Cabinet Secretaries Peter Munya (Agriculture), James Macharia (Infrastructure), Mutahi Kagwe (Health), Ukur Yatani (Treasury),  Charles Keter (Energy), Eugene Wamalwa (Devolution),  Simon Chelugui (Labour), John Munyes (Petroleum) and Sicily Kariuki (Water). All the eight are reportedly eying governorship positions. 

Want to remain relevant

Najib Balala (Tourism) is also said to be eyeing Mombasa governor’s seat while Keriako Tobiko (Environment) has reportedly trained his eyes on the Kajiado East parliamentary seat, currently held by his sister Peris Tobiko, who has shown interest to challenge Kajiado Governor Joseph ole Lenku.  “We shall cross the bridge when we reach there. For the time being, let’s monitor the situation,” Balala said yesterday while Tobiko could not be reached on phone.

 Political scientist Obuya Bagaka says that many State officials will be seeking elective posts to remain relevant since their appointing authority is set to retire at the end of his two terms. 

“Most of them are not sure if they would be accommodated in the next government and the only safe landing is through elective seats. Most of the current CSs will have to seek elective positions to remain relevant,” Dr Bagaka told People Daily.

 He noted that most of the CSs are likely to vie for gubernatorial posts, going by previous precedents set by Anne Waiguru, Charity Ngilu and Lenku, who successfully became governors for Kirinyaga, Kitui and Kajiado.  

And with the BBI proposing half of the ministers to be picked from Parliament, some of the CSs have trained their eyes on parliamentary seats in the hope of making it back to the Cabinet.

 Though Interior CS Fred Matiang’i has been mentioned as eyeing an influential position in 2022, he has consistently denied the claims.

Compromise candidate

But his denials have not stopped some of his Cabinet colleagues and elected Gusii leaders from touting his name for the presidency.

 Dubbed the “Super CS”, his activities, especially in his Gusii backyard, body language and the people he associates with have left little doubts that he is set to join active politics. He has sometimes been touted as a possible compromise presidential candidate.  

By the time of going to press, Matiang’i had not responded to our text messages inquiring whether he would vie for any elective position.  Yesterday, Police spokesman Charles Wahong’o Owino, who has declared interest in the Siaya governor’s seat, where he is likely to face off with Senator James Orengo, among others, said he is buying time before going out full throttle.

 “I am still watching the unfolding  political events, particularly the direction BBI takes before I decide how to go about it. But definitely, I will be in the race,” said Owino. 

While Munya and Yatani will be seeking to make a comeback as Meru and Marsabit governors, respectively, Kagwe and Chelugui are expected to make a second stab on the Nyeri and Baringo seats.

 Wamalwa, Macharia, Kariuki and Keter, a former senator, are said to be preparing themselves to make their first stabs in the gubernatorial seats in Trans Nzoia, Murang’a, Nyandarua and Kericho counties, respectively. 

Macharia’s activities and frequent visits to the county have led many to conclude that he is interested in becoming the next Murang’a governor.

 However, when contacted, he said it is too early to consider.  “It’s too early to consider. Let’s see what BBI has. Will revert at an appropriate time,” he told People Daily. 

Interior CS Karanja Kibicho is said to have trained his eyes on unseating Waiguru in Kirinyaga, while  his Water counterpart Irungu Wairagu hopes to succeed Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria.

 Kibicho was recently quoted saying he has all the qualifications for any elective position as he disclosed that he would retire as a civil servant when President Kenyatta leaves office.

 Devolution PS Charles Sunkuli is said to be targeting the Narok governor’s seat as his Labour counterpart Nelson Marwa is also being linked to the Kuria West parliamentary seat.   

On the other hand, CAS Gideon Mun’garo (Lands) wants to succeed Amason Kingi in Kilifi, Interior’s Hussein Dado is keen to return to Tana River, Chris Obure (Infrastructure) is said to be eyeing the Kisii governor’s seat, Hassan Noor (Sports) will contest in Mandera, Public Service’s Linah Jebii is eyeing Elgeyo Marakwet governorship, Patrick ole Ntutu (Labour) will be in the Narok race while Simon Kapchapin (Energy) will seek a return to West Pokot as governor.

Regular official tours

 Wavinya Ndeti (Infrastructure) and her East Africa Community counterpart Ken Obura want to be Machakos and Kisumu governors, respectively, while Rachael Shebesh,who lost the Nairobi Woman Rep seat to Esther Passaris in 2017 wants to unseat Kasarani MP Mercy Gakuya as Beatrice Elachi, also Public Service CAS, will make a second stab in the Dagoretti North parliamentary seat.

 In Meru, CS Munya will be keen to reclaim the seat he lost to Kiraitu in 2017, and already, he has heightened his political activities, setting the stage for a  fierce battle between him and the incumbent. 

Munya’s ally East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) MP  Mpuru Aburi said the CS  is set to  make  a return to the county politics as he  has already hit the ground running “because the clock towards the 2022 elections is ticking fast”.  

“Munya is in the race, we (CS’s camp) will be in the campaigns. He will  return  as Meru governor with ease,” Aburi said.

 The animosity between Wa Iria and Wairagu has seen the two exchange harsh words in public, with the former accusing the latter of using government projects to advance his 2022 governorship bid.

 Noor, who lost to Governor Ali Roba in the 2017 elections has declared his return to active politics.  

Yattani, who has been at loggerheads with his successor Mohamed Mahamud over county leadership confirmed to People Daily that he would seek to recapture the seat he lost, saying, “My options are still open. Definitely your guess (his 2022 candidature) is as good as mine.”

 In Nyandarua, CS Kariuki has been making regular official tours in the county and attending public functions, rattling Governor Francis Kimemia.

 Though she is yet to declare it publicly, word is rife in Nyandarua about her candidature, with her critics accusing her of using state resources to launch her bid. 

While serving in the  Health docket, she organised medical camps in the region and opened Ndaragwa Kenya Medical Training Centre.  

Contacted, Kariuki said it was too early to discuss such issues, adding that with the nature of politics, it’s normal for some  leaders to link government officials to  politics, a culture she said should stop.

“That is something that I am yet to think of because I believe I have a mandate to deliver first.

I just wonder why my trips to my home should elicit reactions,” she wondered. 

CS Keter in a text message told  People Dailythat “so far, I am not interested”, but a high placed source close to the minister, said “ though he has not declared, he will be in the governor race.”

 Though Chelugui on his part could  not hide his ambitions, said he will decide at the right time as he is currently  concentrating on his mandate and waiting for the outcome of BBI.  

“Presently, we have so many things such as  the Covid-19 pandemic to deal with first.

We also have BBI which will change governance  structure, and therefore that (contesting for a seat) is something that we will give consideration once all these have settled, and when the right time comes depending on the  situations,” Chelugui said.

 Wamalwa’s spokesman Kizito Temba confirmed to People Daily that his boss would be returning to elective politics after 10 years, saying he could either seek the Trans Nzoia governorship or  any role in national politics.

“The options are still open, he could even go for a bigger seat. But the fact is that he will be going into active politics,” Temba said in a telephone interview.

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