EXPECTED TO IMPROVE HEALTH SECTOR

Kagwe hailed as 'more serious' than Kiunjuri

In Summary

• Nyeri speaker John Kaguchia said Kagwe proved to be an able minister when he served in President Mwai Kibaki’s government as minister for ICT and expressed hope he will streamline the Health Sector.

• Nyeri assembly speaker John Kaguchia said Kagwe proved to be an able minister when he served in President Mwai Kibaki’s government as ICT minister.  

Former Nyeri Senator Mutahi Kagwe with his brother Dan Kagwe (the Postmaster General and CEO Of The Postal Corporation Of Kenya) during the burial ceremony of ICT CS Joe Mucheru’s grandmother in Nyeri in July
APPOINTMENT: Former Nyeri Senator Mutahi Kagwe with his brother Dan Kagwe (the Postmaster General and CEO Of The Postal Corporation Of Kenya) during the burial ceremony of ICT CS Joe Mucheru’s grandmother in Nyeri in July
Image: EUTYCAS MUCHIRI

The appointment of former Nyeri Senator Mutahi Kagwe as Health CS and the firing of Mwangi Kiunjuri on Tuesday have been received with mixed reactions by Nyeri leaders and residents.

While some criticised President Uhuru Kenyatta’s move as political and inconsequential, others said the change was a step in the right direction.

Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu said although Kiunjuri has roots in Nyeri, "Kagwe is more serious".

Other than coming from Nyeri, Kagwe will add value to Uhuru’s government as he is serious and experienced, the MP said.

“I think the replacement of Kiunjuri with Kagwe is an excellent replacement in any way you look at it. Kagwe is more experienced, refined and more professionals,” he said.

Nyeri is piloting UHC and his appointment at the health docket will enable him to roll it out in other parts of the country using Nyeri as a case study.

He said former Health CS Sicily Kariuki did a good job, especially in Nyeri, and the ministry in which she has been sent to is also important to Nyeri residents because of irrigation. She has been moved to Water ministry.

By moving Peter Munya from Trade to Agriculture, the region has not lost the representation that it had before the reshuffle, Wambugu said.

“We have nothing to complain about as a region and I can say I am extremely honoured as the MP for Nyeri with the confidence that the President has in us as people of Nyeri county,” he said.

Nyeri assembly speaker John Kaguchia said Kagwe proved to be an able minister when he served in President Mwai Kibaki’s government as ICT minister.  

He said Kagwe is famed for having brought the cost of communication down through the fibre optic and wished he would take a similar approach in the health sector and enable the president to deliver on UHC – one of his Big Four agenda.

“The health sector is still ailing and has a lot of challenges, especially in the implementation of Universal Health Care,” Kaguchia said.

Kagwe, he said, has been given a critical docket and should work tirelessly day and night to deliver on UHC and work closely with counties to ensure it succeeds.

“Much more what I think he should seriously focus on is primary health and public health components, which to me are very important so that we can now deal with issues that are causing Kenyans to be sick,” Kaguchia added.

The issue of cancer should be addressed fast, especially the cancer-causing substandard goods.

The speaker said though Kiunjuri delivered on milk coolers in Nyeri, he ought to have done much more in that docket like improving the coffee, tea and milk sectors.

“To me, that was really a missed opportunity. But at least he was able to deliver milk coolers, influenced the setting up of a KEPHIS office in Nyeri, and the mega plan of establishing the Kenya School of Agriculture,” he said.

“We urge Munya to ensure that the Kenya School of Agriculture is not dropped and it continues,” he added.

But Chinga MCA Kiruga Thuku, a close ally of Deputy President William Ruto and Kiunjuri, said the president was just playing politics.

He said Kiunjuri will be remembered for enhancing food security in Nyeri by distributing fruit tree seedlings such as avocado and macadamia and digging water pans.

The former CS was also very reachable and amiable, Thuku said.

Kiunjuri will also be remembered as one person who did a spirited campaign for the President in 2017 and continued to support him thereafter.

 “The president has just exercised his constitutional mandate, and we will respect that. But we will stand in solidarity with Kiunjuri,” the MCA said.

“It is unfortunate that Kiunjuri has fallen victim to the Tangatanga and Kieleweke politics and I hope as we move forward, people will be allowed to express their political opinions more freely because it is their constitutional right.”

He hopes that Kagwe will help improve the health sector, especially the Nyeri County Referral Hospital and the completion of Othaya Level 6 Hospital, which he said lack a kitchen and a mortuary.

Resident James Gatama said Kiunjuri was targeted for fearlessly supporting DP Ruto.

“Kiunjuri’s case is no different to that of people like Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria and others,” he said.

Gatama said though Kagwe is a technocrat and may perform in his new job, he may add no value in Uhuru’s camp politically.

But resident Muthoni Wanjau said the sacking of Kiunjuiri was long overdue as he was just politicking and not working.

She said it was during Kiunjuri’s tenure that farmers in Nyeri have uprooted most tea, coffee bushes and sold their dairy cows over poor payment and low production.

For Kagwe, she says,  Uhuru was playing safe with Nyeri people and believes that though the former senator may perform, he will not make much of an impact politically in helping the president salvage the ground.