Why Fred Matiang'i's rise to power in Gusiiland is facing uncertainty

Former Interior CS Fred Matiang'i when he addressed the press during the unveiling of the new number plates at GSU Recce Squad Unit headquarters on August 30, 2022. [Silas Otieno, Standard]

He had been tipped to become the next kingpin of the Gusii region as his political star rose and shone brightly during the two terms he served in former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration.

Although not an outright politician, former Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i had built political clout in Gusii region that attracted several leaders to his fold who lined up in praise behind the former CS.

For a majority of the leaders and residents from the region, Matiang’i’s path had been drawn and he was the next in line to fill the big political boots of former Cabinet Minister Simeon Nyachae whose influence in Gusii politics remains unrivaled. No leader from both Kisii and Nyamira has been able to rise up for the occasion and fill Nyachae’s political shoes.

And so when the powerful former CS intensified his inroads in 2019 in the community’s political arena, very few could have wished him away as his development-oriented approach strengthened his political profile and grassroots support.

In a region where only the strong marshal their way into political stardom, Matiang’i’s relentless approach to expanding his influence in the region attracted several leaders to back his ambitions.

But a handful of the then-elected MPs from the region were reluctant in throwing their weight behind him. They have been silent as Matiang’i’s woes with the government that has seen police officers summon him for questioning.

And now, as Matiang’i battles several controversies with the new administration, there are fears his promising political star could blow up in flames as the government’s noose tightens on him and allies jump ship.

A number of leaders including those who had appeared to back Matiang’i’s rise in the region appear to have now backtracked on their resolve while others have blamed the woes they faced during former president Uhuru’s regime on Matiang’i.

North Mugirango MP Joash Nyamoko, who is Gusii MPs caucus chair and the only UDA MP from Nyamira, says the manner in which some of the leaders who were allied to President William Ruto during the campaigns were arrested when Matiangi served as CS was inhuman.

He is among the leaders who are not confident the former CS can rise up to the position of a kingpin for the region and pours scorn on his treatment of leaders from the region.

“Matiangi has never called a meeting since he left office. We may have differed but as current leaders from the community we could be having a say on some matters in the current government,” he says.

He says that Matiang’i should accept that leadership has now been bestowed on a different set of leaders. He is human and he can make a comeback. He has unfounded fear.”

“It is wrong to lie and cheat on our people. Matiangi is our son, we can sit and agree on how to move on.  But we should engage our brains in the right way.  The shifting of his close friends who want to support the Kenya Kwanza Government could not be going well with him, but that is about politics.”

However, South Mugirango MP Sylvanus Osoro claims that the former CS might have rubbed shoulders with several people who were innocent.

“Even the slightest movement of a stray dog will scare the hell out of him and seek unnecessary sympathy. In case of any arrest, the Kenya Kwanza government will do it in a civil way.”

He adds; “He will be called, charged, and will have him defend himself. It will happen, if not today, someday because our systems are independent.”