CS vetting: Meet Mr Controversy Mithika Linturi

CS nominee for Agriculture Mithika Linturi with President William Ruto. [File, Standard]

Mithika Linturi the 53-year-old nominee for William Ruto’s Agriculture docket is by any description a controversial but also very colourful politician with a penchant for exceeding expectations.

Controversial is the word that has marked his public life in three parliamentary terms since he made a debut as Igembe South MP on a Kanu ticket in 2007. He set the political scene ablaze when he proposed a Vote of No Confidence motion against then powerful Devolution and Planning Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru in 2015.

Despite prodding by the Jubilee kingpins – President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, Linturi vowed to push the motion against a CS unpopular in parliament at the time until the last minute. Then Linturi provoked a political ruckus when he disappeared on the day he was supposed to prosecute his motion effectively killing.

But the MP had already made his mark as an over achiever and in the same vein would go for 2013, 2017 and even the 2022 polls when he lost the gubernatorial vote. Being elected on a Kanu ticket in his 2007 debut had been an over achievement for the insurance sector player. This was the year Mwai Kibaki wave had swept Mt Kenya.

Linturi was among the very few Mt Kenya MPs elected on Kanu ticket, a party that had no huge following in the Mt Kenya.  The first term MP would emerge an adept political player from the Opposition benches lobbying Cabinet ministers like Raila Odinga to make roads in the previously neglected miraa growing region.

In 2007, although surprisingly he never landed an appointment for Assistant Minister under the Grand Coalition government, he was marked out as a strategic ally by Uhuru who had become one of the two Deputy Prime Ministers in the negotiations following the 2009/8 post-election pact. Linturi, therefore, naturally was the frontman of Uhuru’s The National Alliance (TNA) in 2013 even as key Meru leaders such as Kiraitu Murungi and Peter Munya rebelled and formed their own outfit, the Alliance Party of Kenya (APK) with bus as the symbol.

In the spoils of those elections, TNA took four parliamentary seats in Meru and the Woman Rep position while APK settled for governor, senator and two MPs. Other two seats surprisingly went to Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and there was one independent.

To many, Linturi had still performed above expectation against the Munya/Kiraitu might especially after factoring the photo finish between the TNA gubernatorial candidate Dr Kilemi Mwiria and Munya.

In 2017, he again won the senatorial race comfortably against Munya’s Party of National Unity candidate, Nairobi lawyer Mugambi Imanyara. In 2022, he appears unlike the more experienced Kiraitu and Munya to have read the signs right again by throwing his might with Ruto as the others opted for Raila Odinga. [Wainaina Wa Ndungu]

He had until the last minute tried to prevail upon Kiraitu to their side but plunged into the gubernatorial race when the veteran turned down every overture.

Despite both losing to Woman Rep Kawira Mwangaza who managed 209,148 votes, it would be another over performance for Linturi who had 183, 859 ahead of the six term veteran who trailed with 110, 814 votes.

Yet Linturi, the first son of a miraa trader has had a controversial public career that has included litigation over the authenticity of his academic papers and an embarrassing divorce case lodged by his former acquaintance, Maryanne Kittany who is now a UDA legislator.