SECTIONS

Uhuru Kenyatta's men and women from Gusii, what next?

Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache and Interior CS Fred Matiang'i. 

President William Ruto recently ruled out appointing members of the opposition into his government. To him, this is to ensure there is a strong opposition to check the government which will help the Kenya Kwanza administration to fulfil the pledges it made to Kenyans ahead of August 9. 

Ruto's statement may have ruled out a return of some of the top civil servants who served in the Jubilee administration, especially because they took side with Mr Kenyatta following his fallout with President Ruto, his then deputy.

They include the powerful Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i who is among top civil servants Uhuru appointed from Nyanza.

Matiang'i, who first headed the education docket before he was moved to Interior, was one of Uhuru's most trusted lieutenants. His loyalty saw Uhuru elevate him to the position of "chief minister". With his new position, Matiang'i was given the power to police his fellow CSs.

This move further amplified the clash between Ruto and Uhuru with claims Matiang'i had take over the roles of the then DP after he was made "super minister".

The technocrats Uhuru appointed from Nyanza later become major assets in the Jubilee administration during its ten-year rule. Some of them landed their big positions following Uhuru's infamous handshake with ODM leader Raila Odinga, who would turn out to be Ruto's main rival in this year's elections.

Some leaders from Gusiiland, all allied to the President, supported his announcement that he will not have any member of the opposition as part of his administration saying they will also push for fresh blood. 

Ruto made the announcement in Naivasha last week where he met Kenya Kwanza members during the coalition's first Parliamentary Group meeting.

Before the elections, some professionals from the Gusii region called on the four presidential candidates to declare the Abagusii community's stake in their administration in case they won.

Lawyer Danstan Omari said: "We don't want to support a presidential candidate blindly. The candidates need to tell us how our people will benefit from the governments if they win the elections."  

"What we are interested in is not what will just benefit individuals but our community as a whole," Omari told a meeting of professionals from the Abagusii.

He noted that while the Jubilee administration had appointed people from Gusiiland to some key government positions, the next regime should do more for the community.

"We are not denying that our people hold some key positions in government, including that of Solicitor General and the Controller of Budget. We would like to continue being in government after the next elections and if possible have more people from out community appointed to government," the lawyer said.

Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang'o when she met with then Deputy President William Ruto. [File, Standard]

The straight-talking Matiang'i was regarded as third-in-command, after Uhuru and his deputy, by virtue of him being the "prefect" of other cabinet secretaries. He chaired meetings of CSs to track progress of the programmes they were undertaking before reporting to the president.

The CS was given the supervisory role in 2017 after it emerged Uhuru and Ruto had fallen out.

Matiang'i went ahead to play a key role in Raila's campaigns, especially in Kisii County, even as he worked hard to push the government's agenda.

He campaigned for Raila in Kisii and Nyamira counties. Matiang'i attended some of Raila's rallies.

Other members of the Abagusii in Uhuru's government are Health PS Susan Mochache, Solicitor General Kennedy Ogeto, and county commissioners Rhoda Onyancha and Evans Achoki, Central Bank chairman Mohammed Nyaoga and Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang'.

Others are Kisii University Vice-Chancellor Prof John Akama, Murang’a University of Technology Vice-Chancellor Prof Dickson Nyariki, Nacada CEO Victor Okioma and National Research Fund CEO Jemimah Onsare. Akama, Nyariki and Okioma are from Nyamira County while Onsara is from Kisii.

Zachary Ayieko, the Chief Administrative Secretary in the Ministry of Energy, is also from the region.

Recently, South Mugirango MP Sylvanus Osoro, said: "We had people from this region holding key positions in the government yet we are still struggling. Some of the promises made to our people were never fulfilled. Individuals from our region appointed to government should be those with the best interest of our people at heart." 

Osoro, a key ally of Ruto who has been proposed for the position of of Majority Chief Whip in the National Assembly, accused some of those appointed by Uhuru of joining government to self-seek.

As soon after the Supreme Court upheld Ruto’s victory, some Gusii leaders allied to Azimio La Umoja met the President Ruto and promised to work with his government. They included Kisii former governor James Ongwae and former Woman Rep Janet Ongera, who led a host of leaders from Kisii and Nyamira counties for a meeting with Ruto in Karen. The meeting lasted about three hours.

Ongwae was Raila’s pointman in the Gusii region while Ongera served as ODM's executive director and was a key ally of Raila.

Former Transport Chief Administrative Secretary Chris Obure, who unsuccessfully ran for Kisii governorship on the Jubilee ticket, and Abagusii Council of Elders chairman John Matundura, among others, also attended the meeting.