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Citizen Weekly

Monday, 16 February 2015

Waiguru wades into fluid Kirinyaga county political swamp with bang

There seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel in the Kirinyaga county political wars of supremacy as rivalry takes the centrestage. Recently, four MPs from the county boycotted a leaders’ meeting convened by Governor Joseph Ndathi. The MPs were Joseph Gitari, Njogu Barua, Stephen Ngari and Peter Gitao. The legislators are said to enjoy the backing of Anne Waiguru, the powerful Devolution cabinet secretary.
Reports say that Waiguru has been secretly holding meetings with anti-Ndathi forces to make the governor irrelevant ahead of 2017. She is fronting for Gitari to be the next county boss, according to those in Ndathi’s camp. However, others say that Waiguru is using Gitari to warm the seat for Kenya Revenue Authority boss, Michael Njiraini.
To demonstrate how bad the relationship is, Gitari convened a parallel meeting at Kerugoya Stadium, barely 100 metres from Ndathi’s meeting. Gitari told his meeting that he cannot attend a meeting convened by the governor whom he described as having little time for other elected leaders.
The bad blood between Gitari and Ndathi started in 2013 when Ndathi engaged losers and isolated local MPs.
 Gitari’s move to go for the position of the governor come 2017 polls has not been received well by the governor.
 “I am putting Ndathi on notice that come 2017; I shall send him home and make sure his political career comes to an end”. Gitari, a land surveyor by profession was quoted saying at one time. To Ndathi, to achieve his goal, Gitari has been opposing every project initiated by the county government.
The choice of Kutus as the seat of the county government has also surfaced in their political duels. Gitari  favours Kerugoya town the long time place of administrative work in the region since independence. Ndathi is prefers Kutus.
The two are locked in do-or-die battles over the controversial 30,000 acre South Ngariama farm. Ndathi accuses the MP of withholding crucial documents used in the demarcation of the piece of land. Gitari’s firm was in 2010 awarded the contract to subdivide the ranch allegedly through political patronage and the help of Michael Gichangi, then intelligence boss.
But even as the four MPs continue to fight Ndathi, area senator Daniel Karaba has said he has no differences with Governor Ndathi.
Local leaders within the county are now being called upon to reconcile the MPs and the governor for the sake of development and unity. Among the leaders being called upon are the retired National Intelligence Service director Michael Gichangi who hails from Gichugu constituency. He was one of the topmost powerful government officers in the Jubilee administration.
Another big name that is being touted to reconcile the MPs and the governor is Waiguru. She is said to be one of the most powerful cabinet secretaries in Uhuru Kenyatta’s government. Waiguru also hails from Gichugu constituency and has emerged as a key player in shaping the politics of Kirinyaga due to her influence in the corridors of power.
Foreign Affairs principal secretary Karanja Kibicho who hails from Ndia constituency, came into the limelight after he was appointed PS for Industrialisation by Mwai Kibaki. Under the Jubilee government, he is the most prominent PS because of his strategic position. Kibicho issued the first ever advisory note by the Kenya government warning citizens to keep off Heathrow Airport in London after receiving intelligence information of an imminent terrorist attack.
The Kenya Revenue Authority commissioner general Michael Njiraini also comes from Kirinyaga. He is a long serving civil servant, having risen from commissioner in charge of domestic tax to his current key position. Njiraini hails from Kirinyaga Central constituency. Njiraini, however, has not actively participated in local politics.
Gichugu MP Njogu Barua is yet to fit into former area MP Martha Karua’s shoes. Unlike other MPs, Barua has maintained a low profile in the political scene in the region. He was a University of Nairobi lecturer. Karua, the fiery Narc-Kenya boss has been branded Kenya’s iron lady. She hails from Gichugu constituency where she was MP for 20 years. Last year, she unsuccessfully contested the presidency and was the only woman candidate in the race. She has gone a sabbatical leave from politics.
Gitari is a diehard Jubilee supporter who takes opposition Cord headon. Gitari entered into parliament after he won in a 2010 by-election, defeating Karaba.
Also from the region is Njeru Githae, who was appointed by Uhuru as Kenya’s ambassador in US. He is a former Finance minister and MP for Ndia constituency.
Peter Gitau is the MP for Mwea who was elected to parliament in 2007 after trouncing Alfred Nderitu. Since his election, Gitau has emerged as a major player in Kirinyaga politics. He is also involved in business and has been in the forefront against the importation of cheap rice.
Then we have Matere Keriri, a former Comptroller of State House. He took up the position in 2002 after retired president Kibaki took over the presidency. He was later fired under what was reportedly a misunderstanding between him and the then First Lady, Lucy Kibaki. After a while, he was appointed executive chairman of the Electricity Regulation Commission before resigning to contest the Kirinyaga Central parliamentary seat which he lost.