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Former big shots in do-or-die push for a comeback in 2022

By Ndungu Gachane | November 28th 2021

Narc-Kenya leader Martha Karua, former Mukurwe-ini Mp Kabando Wa Kabando and Former Othaya Mp Mary Wambui in Nyeri Town. [Kibata Kihu, Standard]

Former political bigwigs who were key in making crucial decisions in past governments are facing a daunting task as they try to make a comeback.

The leaders enjoyed a close relationship and respect with past presidents and when they were ousted from their respective seats, the news was received in disbelief.

The leaders who served as MPs for at least two terms include former presidential aspirant Peter Kenneth (Gatanga), Mwangi Kiunjuri (Laikipia East), Jamleck Kamau (Kigumo), Martha Karua (Gichugu), and Lenny Kivuti (former Embu senator).

Others are Peter Munya (former Meru governor), Mary Wambui (former Othaya MP), Kabando wa Kabando (former Mukurwe-ini MP), Mutahi Kagwe (former Nyeri senator), Kilemi Mwiria (former Tigania West), and John Mututho (former Naivasha MP).

Their political careers hang on a thin thread mainly because of changes in political dynamics and emergence of a new voting generation that does not know them.

Most of their political arithmetic went south after vying for governor seats in 2013 while others were dethroned by political greenhorns due to their acts of omissions or commissions.

Mututho, the former National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (Nacada) chairman, said he was not voted out in 2013 by the electorate but rather by a well-organised web of cartel and drug lords who played with the psychology of the electorate.

“They went out in a door-to-door campaign with huge chunks of money strategy lying to people that I would be appointed Minister by the president but in my times in the political cold I have analysed the situation and I’m now ready for the game,” he said.

Mututho was the man behind the Alcohol Control Act that limited the operation time of bars and other alcohol selling outlets to 5pm to 11pm on weekdays and 2pm to 11pm on weekends.

He unsuccessfully vied for Nakuru governor seat in 2017, and says he will do it again next year.

Former Nacada Boss John Mututho. [Courtesy]

Kiunjuri, who was elected MP in 1997, rose to the position of Water and Irrigation assistant minister, and Energy assistant minister until 2013 when he tried his luck for Laikipia governorship only to lose to little-known Joshua Wakahora Irungu.

His political star again rose in 2015 when Kirinyaga Governor Ann Waiguru resigned from Devolution docket at the height of National Youth Service scandal.

During 2017 General Election, President Uhuru Kenyatta urged Kiunjuri not to seek Laikipia governorship and instead back his presidential bid with the promise that he would reciprocate with a government job.

He was appointed Agriculture Cabinet Secretary until he was fired last year.

Kiunjuri has made up his mind to go for the Laikipia East seat.

Former two-term Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth vied for presidency in 2013 and lost. In 2017, he settled for the city governor seat, riding on his track record as an MP.

He now supports Raila Odinga’s presidential bid, probably with the hope of being a running mate or landing a ministerial seat should Raila form government.

“If the people of Mt Kenya appoints me to work with Raila, I will not disappoint them,” he said.

Kabando wa Kabando says he is still undecided: “I’m weighing my strength to see which seat to vie for and through which political party. I may go for senator or back to Mukurwe-ini but I want to be sure and reinvent my career,” he said.

Karua, despite calls that she position herself for a running mate post, being Mt Kenya Unity Forum spokesperson, has settled for Kirinyaga governor seat.

“That is not a position one can declare candidature for but is dependent on the mercy of the individual running for presidency,” she said.

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