President Uhuru ministers train sights on county seats in 2022 poll
As President Uhuru Kenyatta’s presidency hurtles into its midterm, almost a half of his Cabinet Secretaries have started preparing for the next elections.
As it is, almost half of the Cabinet could be headed to the ballot as they seek to find relevance in a post-Uhuru government.
Already, CSs fished from the political pool have started showing interest in political seats and some have already declared the seats they want.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri recently declared that 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.
In Uhuru’s first Cabinet, Tourism CS Najib Balala and Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu were the only politicians but the current pool of ministers has technocrats and former politicians in equal measure.
Kazungu Kambi, Dan Kazungu, Eugene Wamalwa and Kiunjuri later joined Balala and Ngilu to bring the number of politicians in Uhuru’s first Cabinet to five.
Of the 22 current 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. “The 2022 elections will be here soon and we need to be prepared. I will be seeking to deputise the president after the polls,” Kiunjuri said while addressing a crowd in an event in his home county.
Apart from Kiunjuri, Balala and Peter Munya (Trade) have come out to show their interest in politics after the Uhuru era.
Most of the other CSs prefer to conduct their political activities quietly, away from the glare of the media for fear of backlash from the Executive.
Just three weeks ago, Munya attended a Party of National Unity (PNU) 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.
Last month, Munya was endorsed for the seat by a number of leaders from the county, including Senator Mithika Linturi and East African Assembly legislator Mpuru Aburi who said they were now shifting their support from Kiraitu to the CS.
“CSs like Kiunjuri, Balala and Wamalwa are actively involved in politics. Come back and rescue our people,” Aburi told Munya during a burial in Meru.
But Balala, who is eyeing the Mombasa governorship, told Sunday Standard
that he will declare his interest at the right time.
“I will have a clear focus on politics in 2021, that is when I will know if I will still go for governor or even a bigger seat. I have experience in elective politics and in government,” Balala said.
“I want to have the tourism numbers go up to three million before I leave office, then I will be proud and have the energy and impetus to take on another assignment given by the voters.”
Other CSs said to be eyeing the gubernatorial seats in their home counties are Charles Keter (Energy), John Munyes (Mining), Simion Chelugui (Water and Sanitation), Ukur Yattani (Labour) and Wamalwa (Devolution). Munyes, Yattani and Chelugui ran and lost in 2017.
Best foot forward
Munyes will be seeking to succeed Turkana Governor Josephat Nanok who is doing his last term. The Mining CS lost to Nanok in 2017.
Keter, who relinquished his senatorial position for a Cabinet position in 2014, is also putting his best foot forward.
“We know he is interested and we will support him for the seat,” said Stanley Maritim, a former politician from Kericho.
Contacted, Chelugui chose to keep his cards close to his chest, saying he is focussed on delivering water to Kenyans before he embarks on his ambitions.
“As at now, my hands are tied as I seek to implement the president’s pledges by 2022. I will decide on the next course of action at an appropriate time,” he said.
Speculation is rife that Sports CS Amina Mohammed could join the race for Kakamega.
Amina’s supporters have launched a spirited campaign to popularise her on the ground.
Also mentioned for possible stab at the governor seat is Interior CS Fred Matiang’i, who according to insiders, is not sure which county, between Nyamira and Kisii to go for.
Some members of President Kenyatta’s first term Cabinet contested and won governor’s seats.
They include Kirinyaga’s Anne Waiguru, Kajiado’s Joseph Ole Lenku, Kitui’s Charity Ngilu and Nyandarua’s Francis Kimemia.
All the four were dropped from the Cabinet but found their way to the top county seats.
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President Uhuru KenyattaCabinet SecretariesUhuru governmentMwangi Kiunjuri