CS post offers Kagwe lifeline after years in political cold

Health Cabinet Secretary nominee Mutahi Kagwe (pictured) has a good understanding of how rightist politics works having served in the governments of former President Kibaki and his successor Uhuru Kenyatta.

The former Mukurweini MP made his debut in politics in 2002 edging out two-term MP Muhika Mutahi and warmed his way into the inner sanctum of the Kibaki government.

During the former president’s first term between 2002-2007 he was picked to chair the parliamentary departmental committee on Finance, Trade, Tourism and Planning.

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But that was the time when Kibaki was seeking to fulfill a pre-election promise to deliver a new Constitution and Mr Kagwe could occasionally be deployed as the informal government link between the civil society, media and other stakeholders.

Soon an opportunity presented itself in government after the fallout over the 2005 constitutional referendum that saw Kibaki remove allies of Raila Odinga from the Narc government and the former MP landed the Information docket.

Kagwe is credited with spearheading the construction of the transformational East African Marine System (TEAMS) – the first Fibre Optic Project for Eastern Africa which enabled telcos to offer quality and substantially reduce international calling rates.

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It was also around this time that ‘Mpesa’ was launched.

The Health Cabinet Secretary nominee also benefited immensely from the mentoring of his father-in-law the late former minister John Njoroge Michuki.

Muhika describes Kagwe as among the best crop of leaders the area has ever produced with brains, integrity and gravitas to serve the nation.

“He is a political leader that any president would desire to see in his corner,” he says. Kagwe’s stint at the Ministry of Information and Communications ended after he lost in the 2007 elections to Mr Kabando wa Kabando. As minister, he is credited with overseeing the rapid expansion of the broadcast media in the country and freedom of the media. Out of Parliament and with Kibaki reign nearing the end, Kagwe appeared rudderless when the 2013 elections were called. He threw his weight behind Nderitu Gachagua of the Grand National Union.

The gamble paid off after Kagwe defeated former Mathira MP Ephraim Maina on President Uhuru Kenyatta’s TNA ticket in the Nyeri senatorial race. 

The Health CS nominee stood with Gachagua during his three-year stay as Nyeri governor amid his failing health. But by the time the elections came in 2017, Kagwe’s support in Nyeri was substantially eroded. He was seen as aloof, elitist and out of touch with the poor majority, a factor that saw him lose to the late Dr Wahome Gakuru in the Nyeri gubernatorial race.

Kagwe, a calculating politician has stood by President Kenyatta and was among the first Central leaders to pay homage to opposition leader Raila Odinga following the handshake with Uhuru in March 2018.

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Mutahi KagweUhuru KenyattaCabinet reshuffle