The death of former Mathira MP Matu Wamae has reduced the list of surviving Cabinet members of the late President Mwai Kibaki.
Wamae, alongside former State House Comptroller Metere Kiriri, the late Munene Kairu, the late John Keen and Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya Dancun Ndegwa, were in Kibaki’s inner circle.
Others were the late Njenga Karume and George Muhoho who supported Kibaki in forming the Democratic Party.
Other than convincing Kibaki to ditch Kanu to form DP, Wamae was a member of the team that negotiated for a single presidential candidate against the ruling party’s candidate.
Ngari Gituku, Kibaki’s former private secretary said Wamae was part of the Kibaki’s political machine and his confidant.
“The two had worked together after independence. When Kibaki was in the Finance and Planning Ministry, Wamae served as the Executive Director of the Industrial and Commercial Development Corporation (ICDC),” said Gituku.
He recalled that Wamae rose during the Mzee Kenyatta administration, feigned during Moi’s establishment but bounced back during the Kibaki era.
Wamae was the first African general manager of the Central Bank of Kenya’s Banking and Currency Department, the executive director of the ICDC and a 3-term MP for Mathira.
In 1987, he lost the seat to Davidson Ngibuini Kuguru, his long-time political rival but he reclaimed his seat in 1992 and held it till 2002 when he was expecting to be given a direct ticket by his friend Kibaki.
While describing the decision by Kibaki not to give him a direct ticket in his book Born to Serve, Wamae delved into the culture of “use and dump” in Kenya’s politics.
He said he had been promised a direct nomination by Kibaki for campaigning for him but he was in for a rude shock after Kibaki called for party nominations and he lost to Nderitu Gachagua.
He was appointed by Kibaki as the chair of New KCC in 2005 and he turned around the dairy industry.
“Due to the past working relationship, Kibaki entrusted him to revolutionise the KCC and due to his commitment, he gave a collateral security for a loan meant to reinvigorate the dying milk processing plant,” said Gituku.
Former Murang'a Governor Mwangi Wa Iria, who was the CEO of New KCC during Wamae's chairmanship, said he was genuinely dedicated to Kenyan dairy farmers and wanted them to earn a decent income from their venture.
Ann Njoroge, who served as Wamae’s personal secretary until his death, described him as straightforward and honest man who always wanted to uplift the living standards of others.
“Despite his ailment and old age, he was sharp and focused and never failed to come to the office. He reminded me of most of the things on his to-do list and challenged me a lot,” said Ms Njoroge.
Wamae’s widow, Joyce, said the politician-cum-business mogul died at Nairobi Hospital on Wednesday at 7.30pm.
“He became ill in 2015 and when an operation was conducted on his spine, the condition worsened and has been in and out of hospital since then,” she said.
The couple had four children but two have since died.
Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga eulogised Wamae as a leader who lived a rich life and was dedicated in his service to humanity.