'Fighter, powerful': This man Simeon Nyachae

This iron fist man was the son of colonial chief Musa Nyandusi.

In Summary

• Nyachae, who was a shrewd businessman and entrepreneur, died on February 1 at the Nairobi Hospital after battling an illness for 10 years.

• Last month, there were rumours that the former minister had passed away which his son, Charles Nyachae, dismissed.

Simon Nyachae./THE STAR
Simon Nyachae./THE STAR

Powerful, influencer and a fighter.

These are some of the words used to describe former powerful Cabinet minister Simeon Nyachae even though most of his enemies described him as arrogant, dictatorial, overbearing and self-righteous.

Nyachae, who was a shrewd businessman and entrepreneur, died on February 1 at the Nairobi Hospital after battling an illness for 10 years.

Last month, there were rumours that the former minister had passed away which his son, Charles Nyachae, dismissed.

But who exactly was this man?

Born in Nyaribari, in Kisii County on February 6, 1932, the fiery speaker’s career began around 1960 when he was posted as a district officer in Kangundo division. 

POLITICS

By December 1963, Nyachae became a District commissioner before he went to provincial administration work in 1964.

It is at this time that he rose steadily in ranks before becoming a chief secretary in Civil Service under the Kenyatta and Moi governments between 1965 to 1979.

On his retirement from the civil service, Nyachae became one of the richest and most prominent personalities from Kisii.

During his tenure, he came up with the now-famous District Focus for Rural Development programmes to curb rural-urban migration.

Nyachae later vied and won a parliamentary seat in Nyaribari Chache constituency in 1992.

With this, he was able to enter into the Moi government as a powerful Cabinet minister first for Agriculture, then in 1998 for Finance.

RUSTY RELATIONSHIP

He was appointed to the Ministry of Finance in 1998 but quit the government a year later when he was transferred to what he felt was the less prominent ministry, he was to become the Industrial Development Minister.

In 1998, Nyachae fell out with Moi after the former told Kenyans that their economy must be put into ‘intensive care’. 

He also waged a highly public battle against corruption, by reporting the names of prominent Kenyans who had not repaid bank loans.

A few months later, in February, Nyachae was sacked. This made him leave his party Kenya African National Union also known as Kanu to join the Opposition Ford People.

Nyachae, who was known for pomp and colour, later launched his presidential bid in Nairobi on the ticket of Ford People.

His party was overshadowed by a bigger opposition rival, the National Rainbow Coalition, which picked Mwai Kibaki as its candidate.

Since quitting the government, Nyachae had been quite open about his ambition as he felt under-appreciated.

Reports indicated that his colleagues ignored his suggestion that the opposition presidential candidate should be elected by a popular vote involving delegates from all opposition parties.

The Opposition later chose Kibaki and blocked Nyachae's presidential ambitions.

Nyachae, who still ran for the 2002 presidency on a Ford-People ticket, emerged third after Narc's Kibaki and Kanu’s Uhuru Kenyatta.

Later, Nyachae was appointed to head the Roads and Public Works docket under the Kibaki administration.

After the 2007-08 post-election violence, Nyachae’s name appeared in the Waki report as one of the masterminds. Over 1,500 people were killed during the skirmishes that left thousands displaced.

The 88-year-old Nyachae then retired from active politics in 2007 after he failed to clinch the Nyaribari Chache parliamentary seat.

FAMILY

This iron fist man was the son of colonial chief Musa Nyandusi.  Having a very close relationship with his father, Nyachae, who was forbidden from playing football when he was young, was forced into marrying a 16 year old when he was only 22.

The Standard reports that his father further directed him to marry again after the first wife did not get a son.

After three years, Nyachae had married three women. He had more than 20 children.

In April 2018, Nyachae tripped and fell at his home in Loresho . While at the facility, he complained of severe chest pains and was immediately taken to the ICU for closer monitoring.