2022 SUCCESSION

Is Matiang'i plotting to vie for President in 2022?

Powerful CS who wields immense influence in Cabinet hasn't declared 2022 ambitions but his moves prompt speculation

In Summary

• The former University of Nairobi don heightened political activities in what has swirled speculations.

• Matiang'i s elevation is seen as a political masterstroke to counter or quash DP William Ruto's State House ambitions.

Interior CS Dr Fred Matiang'i during an Eid baraza in Mombasa county.
Interior CS Dr Fred Matiang'i during an Eid baraza in Mombasa county.
Image: JOHN CHESOLI

Powerful Interior CS and ‘Super Minister’ Fred Okeng’o Matiang’i ‘s elevation and recent moves have triggered speculation he could be plotting a presidential bid in 2022.

Although ‘Mr. Fix-It’ Matiang’i has not declared any political ambitions, his high-profile engagements — and role in government — have exposed what some observers consider to be his deep desire for State House.

He is considered the third most powerful man in the Jubilee government after President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto.

 

Matiang’i has as well shown he’s formidable, competent and effective. As Education CS, he introduced reforms and dramatically reduced cheating, so much so, that exam scores plummeted countrywide. Students, parents, teachers,  famous schools and unions howled. There were very few As compared to previous exams.

Matiang’i didn’t budge.

In January President Uhuru Kenyatta put Interior CS Mtiang’i  in charge of the monitoring and implementation of all national development projects, something DP Ruto cherished.

The Star has learnt that Matiang’i is quietly assembling a political war chest.

“There is a possibility that Matiang’i has presidential ambitions. There is a likelihood that he will be in the 2022 political matrix,” Kitutu Chache South MP Richard Onyonka said.

Onyonka, who left Deputy President William Ruto’s camp, told the Star that the CS is seeking the Kisii community’s backing for 2022.

The minister has already launched what some observers say is a strategic plan to win hearts and minds.

 

The CS has embarked on a plan to first consolidate his Kisii backyard as a bargaining chip.

The former University of Nairobi Linguistics lecturer is reportedly positioning himself to be handshake compromise presidential candidate to take on DP Ruto.

Tenacious Ruto has huge ambitions but is said to not see eye to eye with Matiang’i.

Should he run, Matiang’i might be Ruto’s biggest headache, if President Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga decide to endorse him.

Onyoka said Kenya’s political landscape is largely tribal, a factor that has forced Matiang’i to start rallying his community.

According to  Jubilee’s reported 2013 pact, Uhuru was to rule for 10 years, paving the way for Ruto to govern for two terms, an arrangement that could take the ruling party’s reign to 2032.

However, after the March 9, 2018, handshake, suspicions and tension have been  rife in Jubilee, triggering the emergence of the  Kieleweke and Tangatanga camps.

Kieleweke is an anti-Ruto camp mainly comprising Raila and Uhuru supporters, while Tangatanga backs Ruto’s bid to succeed Uhuru.

The widening cracks in the ruling party have raised concerns over the implementation of the 2013 political pact that brought about realignments — perhaps more correctly fractures and fissures.

Ruto’s allies have accused Raila of using the handshake to disrupt Jubilee succession plan and position himself as Uhuru’s favourite successor.

Raila denies that, saying their deal involves addressing the country’s endemic problems, including corruption and tribalism.

Observers say if Matiang’i becomes the handshake compromise candidate, then he might be the masterstroke that could dash Ruto’s hopes of succeeding Uhuru.

The minister enjoys close ties with both President Kenyatta and Raila.

“He (Matiang’i) might be Raila’s compromise presidential candidate in 2022. Given that he comes from Nyanza, he must be positioning himself to be a politician first,” political analyst Wambira Kabianga said.

Matiang’i chairs the powerful Cabinet subcommittee on the National Development Implementation and Communication Committee, an elevation that makes him the supervisor of his colleagues., a ‘super minister’.

The CS has also been mandated by the President to be chairing weekly Cabinet meetings, a responsibility seen as an endorsement of Matiang’i’s leadership style and track record.

Analysts say Matiang’i could be positioning himself for bigger things.

Uhuru has already declared that his 2022 choice would shock Kenyans,  rattling Ruto and splitting the race wide open. He recently said he doesn’t care who will be elected in 2022, a coded message politicians say targets the restless Ruto.

“The person who will be elected would be elected. It’s God who knows. Me I don’t mind,” Uhuru said while presiding over the opening of Bidco Industrial Park on July 25.

Uhuru’s statements have exposed the intrigues roiling the succession and indicted he just might deny Ruto a real shot at 2022.

The uncertainty surrounding Jubilee and the growing influence of the handshake, have given Matiang’i a solid opening to position himself as a player.

For one to make an impact in a presidential run, they must have the total support of their tribe. Matiang’i epitomises the struggle of the typically hardworking yet marginalised tribes in Kenya.
Kitutu Chache South MP Richard Onyonka

Matiang’i has been holding secret meetings with political and opinion leaders from the region. He is said to have brushed off an initial push by Kisii leaders to either run for either Kisii or Nyamira governor, another indication that his sights are fixed elsewhere.

Firming up his grip on Kisii politics, the CS has rolled out activities across Nyamira and Kisii.

His efforts are seen as a charm offensive against Ruto who has also been on a charm offensive to woo the Kisii. The CS has brought on side Governors James Ongwae (Kisii) and his Nyamira counterpart John Nyagarama, key leaders from the region.

A host of Kisii  MPs are backing Matiang’i, except for South Mugirango’s Sylvanus Osoro, Josiah Nyamoko of  North Mugirango and Bomachoge Chache’s Alfah Miruka.

The CS has been attending fundraisers for churches and schools and giving substantial donations as most Gusii MPs are pushing him to run for President.

Last Friday, he landed in Gusii for a series of harambees with a powerful delegation of four Cabinet Secretaries who said they will support ‘Matiang’s endeavours’.

Education CS George Magoha, Joe Mucheru (ICT), Keriako Tobiko (Environment) and Eugene Wamalwa (Devolution) openly said their support for Matiang’i was solid, however, without specifying for what.

“The head of state appointed the Interior CS to lead us because he has faith in him. Do not give Matiang’i to enemies,” Wamalwa said, adding that a star had been seen in Matiang’i “but not everybody is happy”.

“His shining star can be seen in the whole country,” Wamalwa said, sending a huge crowd into a frenzy.

Mucheru, wh is Matiang’i’s buddy, said the CS enjoys massive support among many Kenyans because of his excellent performance and track record.

“Matiang’i is our prefect in the Cabinet and if he says we come, we have no objection,” Mucheru said.

The inclusion of the four CSs in Matiang’i itinerary appeared to project Matiang’i as a figure with national appeal ready to go for the top job.

At Riokindo High School in Kisii county last Friday, the Abagusii Council of Elders lay hands on him, a symbolic community blessing of leaders going for higher positions.

Barely a week earlier, the elders had held a press conference in Kisii town where they declared Matiang’i the region’s point man in political and socio-economic matters.

Before running for president in 2022, former powerful Cabinet minister Simon Nyachae received blessings from elders a couple of times, culminating in a major rally at Gusii Stadium, where he declared his ambitions months to the 2002 elections.

Following Nyachae’s exit from politics and having been the Gusii community’s kingpin, Matiang’i is emerging as his successor, elevated far above other leaders from the region.

NO POLITICAL NOVICE

Matiang’i worked Nyachae’s shadow for many years, an opportunity that could have contributed to his political ambitions.

He was Nyachae’s campaign manager and the personal assistant in the 2002 General Election and is considered n experienced political strategist par excellence.

He not only oversaw Nyanchae’s unsuccessful presidential run under the then regional behemoth Ford People party but also went ahead to become one of Mzee’s trusted loyalists.

Matiang’i is known within government circles as President Kenyatta’s ‘Mr Fix it’ who has often stepped in to streamline ministry operations.

He previously served as minister for ICT and was hailed for heralding the digital migration era despite opposition from media owners.  Then Uhuru named him acting Lands CS before moving him to the Education ministry.

Before his nomination to the Cabinet in 2013, Matiang’i had served as the Eastern Africa regional representative for the Centre for International Development. He attended the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy and the State University of New York.

Interior CS Fred Matiangi addressing faithful at Nyagesenda SDA Church in Kitutu Chache North
Interior CS Fred Matiangi addressing faithful at Nyagesenda SDA Church in Kitutu Chache North
Image: MAGATI OBEBO

According to  Jubilee's reported 2013 pact, Uhuru was to rule for 10 years, paving the way for Ruto to govern for two terms, an arrangement that could take the ruling party's reign to 2032.

However, after the March 9, 2018, handshake, suspicions and tension have been rife in Jubilee, triggering the emergence of the  Kieleweke and Tangatanga camps.

Kieleweke is an anti-Ruto camp mainly comprising Raila and Uhuru supporters, while Tangatanga backs Ruto's bid to succeed Uhuru.

The widening cracks in the ruling party have raised concerns over the implementation of the 2013 political pact that brought about realignments — perhaps more correctly fractures and fissures.

Ruto's allies have accused Raila of using the handshake to disrupt Jubilee succession plan and position himself as Uhuru's favourite successor.

Raila denies that saying their deal involves addressing the country's endemic problems, including corruption and tribalism.

Observers say if Matiang'i becomes the handshake compromise candidate, then he might be the masterstroke that could dash Ruto's hopes of succeeding Uhuru.

The minister enjoys close ties with both President Kenyatta and Raila.

He (Matiang'i) might be Raila's compromise presidential candidate in 2022. Given that he comes from Nyanza, he must be positioning himself to be a politician first,” political analyst Wambira Kabianga said.

Matiang'i chairs the powerful Cabinet subcommittee on the National Development Implementation and Communication Committee, an elevation that makes him the supervisor of his colleagues, a 'super minister'. 

The CS has also been mandated by the President to be chairing weekly Cabinet meetings, a responsibility seen as an endorsement of Matiang'i's leadership style and track record.

Analysts say Matiang'i could be positioning himself for bigger things.

Uhuru has already declared that his 2022 choice would shock Kenyans,  rattling Ruto and splitting the race wide open. He recently said he doesn't care who will be elected in 2022, a coded message politicians say targets the restless Ruto.

“The person who will be elected would be elected. It’s God who knows. Me I don’t mind,” Uhuru said while presiding over the opening of Bidco Industrial Park on July 25.

Uhuru's statements have exposed the intrigues roiling the succession and indicted he just might deny Ruto a real shot at 2022.

The uncertainty surrounding Jubilee and the growing influence of the handshake, have given Matiang'i a solid opening to position himself as a player.

Matiang'i has been holding secret meetings with political and opinion leaders from the region. He is said to have brushed off an initial push by Kisii leaders to either run for either Kisii or Nyamira governor, another indication that his sights are fixed elsewhere.

Firming u his grip on Kisii politics, the CS has rolled out activities across Nyamira and Kisii.

His efforts are seen as a charm offensive against Ruto who has also been on a charm offensive to woo the Kisii. The CS has brought on side Governors James Ongwae (Kisii) and his Nyamira counterpart John Nyagarama, key leaders from the region.

A host of Kisii  MPs are backing Matiang'i, except for South Mugirango's Sylvanus Osoro, Josiah Nyamoko of  North Mugirango and Bomachoge Chache's Alfah Miruka.

The CS has been attending fundraisers for churches and schools and giving substantial donations as most Gusii MPs are pushing him to run for President.

Last Friday, he landed in Gusii for a series of harambees with a powerful delegation of four Cabinet Secretaries who said they will support 'Matiang's endeavours'. 

Education CS George Magoha, Joe Mucheru (ICT), Keriako Tobiko (Environment) and Eugene Wamalwa (Devolution) openly said their support for Matiang'i was solid, however, without specifying for what.

“The head of state-appointed the Interior CS to lead us because he has faith in him. Do not give Matiang’i to enemies,” Wamalwa said, adding that a star had been seen in Matiang’i “but not everybody is happy”.

“His shining star can be seen in the whole country,” Wamalwa said, sending a huge crowd into a frenzy.

Mucheru, wh is Matiang'i's buddy, said the CS enjoys massive support among many Kenyans because of his excellent performance and track record.

“Matiang’i is our prefect in the Cabinet and if he says we come, we have no objection,” Mucheru said.

The inclusion of the four CSs in Matiang'i itinerary appeared to project Matiang'i as a figure with national appeal ready to go for the top job.

At Riokindo High School in Kisii county last Friday, the Abagusii Council of Elders lay hands on him, a symbolic community blessing of leaders going for higher positions.

Barely a week earlier, the elders had held a press conference in Kisii town where they declared Matiang'i the region’s point man in political and socio-economic matters.

Before running for president in 2022, former powerful Cabinet minister Simon Nyachae received blessings from elders a couple of times, culminating in a major rally at Gusii Stadium, where he declared his ambitions months to the 2002 elections.

Following Nyachae's exit from politics and having been the Gusii community's kingpin, Matiang'i is emerging as his successor, elevated far above other leaders from the region.

NO POLITICAL NOVICE

Matiang'i worked Nyachae's shadow for many years, an opportunity that could have contributed to his political ambitions.

He was Nyachae's campaign manager and the personal assistant in the 2002 General Election and is considered n experienced political strategist par excellence.

He not only oversaw Nyanchae's unsuccessful presidential run under the then regional behemoth Ford People party but also went ahead to become one of Mzee's trusted loyalists.

Matiang'i is known within government circles as President Kenyatta's 'Mr Fix it' who has often stepped in to streamline ministry operations.

He previously served as minister for ICT and was hailed for heralding the digital migration era despite opposition from media owners.  Then Uhuru named him acting Lands CS before moving him to the Education ministry.

Before his nomination to the Cabinet in 2013, Matiang'i had served as the Eastern Africa regional representative for the Centre for International Development. He attended the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy and the State University of New York.


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