Kiraitu: Munya's decision not to gun for governorship caught me by surprise

Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi in an interview with The Standard at his Nkibu home. [George Kaimenyi, Standard]

Meru governor Kiraitu Murungi has said the decision by Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya not to contest the county's governor caught him and his supporters by surprise.

The governor, who spoke to The Standard from his Nkubu home on Sunday, said he expected the CS to challenge him and was shocked after Munya failed to resign from the government as expected of public officers wishing to join politics.

Munya was among senior government officials who were expected to resign to vie for various seats in the August elections. Other CSs who were widely expected to quit government were Fred Matiang'i (Interior), Ukur Yattani (National Treasury) and Mutahi Kagwe (Health).

President Uhuru Kenyatta is said to have prevailed upon the ministers not to resign so they can help him complete the development projects his administration has initiated even as he seeks to secure a legacy ahead of his retirement.

And on Friday, Munya said Uhuru had convinced him not to resign and instead concentrate on helping the Head of State in achieving more development in his agriculture docket.

Munya served as the first governor of Meru County before losing out to Murungi in the August 8, 2017, General Election.

Munya's Principal Secretary Hamadi Boga resigned last week to focus on his bid to succeed Salim Mvurya as governor of Kwale County. 

And on Sunday, Kiraitu thanked Munya following his decision which he said will make his reelection bid much easier.

Woman Representative Kawira Mwangaza, who is also eyeing the governor's position in Meru, also lauded Munya's decision saying it will make it easier for her to be elected.

Kiraitu also sought to dispel claims that he negotiated with Munya to have the CS pull out of the race.

"There were no such negotiations but I thank the CS for making my re-election campaigns much easier. As a matter of fact, we expected him to resign contest the position of governor in Meru. His decision was a pleasant surprise, and we thank God for it,” Kiraitu said.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

However, the governor said he is not leaving anything to chance even as he faces Mwangaza in what is turning out to be a two-horse race.

Mwangaza said she was also elated by Munya's decision which she said would make her work easier in her efforts to supplant Kiraitu. 

Kiraitu has listed enhanced provision of water to residents, construction of roads, and development of the agriculture sector as some of his success stories upon which he will be seeking reelection. 

Mwangaza said: "I am happy that Munya obeyed the President and pulled out of the governorship race. I am very happy and I thank him for respecting the authority that directed him not to run. It is good he has announced his stand. Now there are two horses left."

"I am determined to run for the governor's seat and win. Nothing will stop me. I will not step down for anybody. I am going to pursue my dream because it is directed to do so by God,” she said as she dismissed claims there efforts to make her step down for Kiraitu.

“God has asked me to run for governor and there is nobody who can ask me not to run,” Mwangaza said.

Political analyst Naituli Gitile said now that Munya is not on the ballot, Mwangaza is likely to win Nyambene which is in Munya’s home area as well as her home area of Buuri

According to him, Munya’s presence in the race would have made it easier for Kiraitu to be re-elected.

He added: “In Tigania, Mwangaza has been working with youth groups and women and they are loyal to her. Kiraitu has been doing a good job in the provision of water among others but he has not been able to penetrate those women groups the way Kawira has done.