Moses Kuria: Controversies, employment history and rise to Cabinet

Cabinet Secretary nominee for Trade, Investment and Industry, Moses Kuria. [File, Standard]

He's the Cabinet Secretary (CS) nominee who has faced more hate speech charges than any other member in President William Ruto's inaugural lineup.

If approved by the National Assembly, Moses Kuria (Trade, Investment and Industry) will be among the few ministers in Kenya's history to have been charged with hate speech on several occasions.

The 51-year-old former Gatundu South Member of Parliament, according to observers, has both extremes.

He can make remarks that have the potential of sparking anger, and he can make a statement that smacks of brilliance.

Hate charges

His first hate allegation dates back to 2014, when he allegedly made inflammatory on Facebook.

The Law Society of Kenya (LSK), the then-complainant, submitted in court that Kuria had uploaded a series of inciting messages targeting a Kenyan community.

The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) recommended Kuria's prosecution after the completion of investigations into his remarks.

The consequent trial started in 2016. In April 2017, Kuria was acquitted for lack of evidence.

Nairobi Magistrate Teresa Nyangene said the prosecution failed to prove that the Facebook page, where the alleged hate messages were published, belonged to Moses Kuria.

The former lawmaker would, again in 2015, face accusations of hate speech after he allegedly incited civilians to physically harm persons in Kenya who were opposed to the National Youth Service (NYS) programmes in 2015.

In 2020, Magistrate Kennedy Cheruiyot ordered Kuria's release for lack of evidence.

In 2019, Kuria had also been acquitted of hate charges over remarks he allegedly made in 2017 targeting former presidential candidate Raila Odinga and his wife Ida Odinga.

The then-Gatundu South MP allegedly uttered the hate comments at Wangige Market in Kiambu County in the run-up to October 26, 2017 repeat presidential election.

Magistrate Francis Andayi ruled that the prosecution did not provide evidence implicating Kuria over the October 2017 statements.

In March 2022, leaders affiliated to Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya Coalition called for the arrest of Kuria after he allegedly made hate remarks against a Kenyan ethnic community.

Kuria, while on the campaign trail in Kiambu Town, said former President Uhuru Kenyatta risked being cursed for supporting a member of another community that Mt. Kenya constituents had entered an oath never to support for presidency.

The former legislator was, however, not arrested or charged.

Gatundu South politics

Kuria, a straight talker who constantly calculates his next move, served as Gatundu South Member of Parliament between 2014 and 2017.

He was elected unopposed in the August 7, 2014 by-election, which was occasioned by the death of the then-Gatundu South MP Jossy Ngugi Nyumu.

Ngugi died on May 21, 2014. The late MP collapsed in his bathroom at his Nairobi home and was pronounced dead on arrival at the Nairobi Hospital.

From 2014 to 2022, Moses Kuria has been a constant figure in Kiambu politics.

In 2017, he defended his Gatundu South parliamentary seat on Jubilee Party ticket.

In the August 9, 2022 General Election he set his sights on the Kiambu gubernatorial seat. Kuria, who unveiled his Chama Cha Kazi Party in August 2021, unsuccessfully sought the governor's seat, getting 24,512 to emerge a distant fifth.

The race was won by Kimani Wamatangi of UDA (348,371 votes). Others were Wainaina Wa Jungle (Independent; 237,361), William Kabogo (Tujibebe Wakenya Party; 106,980) and James Nyoro (Jubilee; 99,562).

During the campaigns, Kuria blew hot and cold - sometimes attacking UDA for sidelining his Cha Cha Kazi Party in the Kenya Kwanza Alliance, other times, expressing optimism that the Kenya Kwanza Alliance would form a great government.

In all this, he remained loyal to William Ruto, avoided attacking him in person and constantly featured in his press addresses.

Kuria's inclusion in President Ruto's Cabinet line-up has drawn mixed reactions, with a bulk of social media users saying he, maybe, isn't the best pick for Cabinet, given his previous history with hate allegations.

Following the unveiling of the 22-member Cabinet on Tuesday, September 27, Moses Kuria's name rose to the top trends on Twitter.

If approved, this will mark his first entry into Cabinet.

Who exactly is Moses Kuria?

Gatundu born and bred politician, Moses Kiarie Kuria, is not new to politics.

Between 2007 and 2012, he served as the spokesperson and the programmes secretary of the defunct Party of National Unity (PNU). At the time, the political outfit was being headed by Kenya's third President Mwai Kibaki.

In 2013 Kuria was appointed the Officer in Charge of Strategy at the defunct The National Alliance (TNA) Party, a position he held until he was elected Gatundu South MP in an August 2017 by-election.

Formal employment history

A brilliant mind to the few who know him at a personal level, Kuria is a calculating and tactical person.

He holds a Bachelor of Commerce Degree (Finance and Accounting option) from the University of Nairobi. He graduated in 1993. He, thereafter, enrolled for Bachelor's Degree in Law, which he is yet to complete as per the available public records.

In 1994, he briefly served in the finance department of Total Energies.

The highlight of his career in finance, was between 2002 and 2007, when he served as a project and technology transformation director for Al Rajhi Bank in Saudi Arabia.

He's also served as a Senior Analyst (Re-engineering Business Processes) at Standard Chartered Bank (1995 to 1999).

His last stint in the corporate world was at Wamad Information Services in Dubai where he was the Chief Operating Officer before leaving in 2007 to join politics.

Kuria is married to Joyce Njambi Kuria. They have two sons together.