PROFILE

Kimunya gaffes: Accountant known to shoot from the hip

In 2008, he said he'd rather die than resign; recently, he said he'd resign if Jubilee lost in Rurii poll. He didn't

In Summary

• The Kipipiri MP seems to have mastered Moi’s carrot and stick politics and is using it in Kiambaa.

• He told residents he would withdraw the Sh2 billion allocated for roads if they don’t vote for Jubilee Party's candidate Kariri Njama.

Majority leader Amos Kimunya after the Jubilee Parliamentary Group Meeting on June 22, 2020
Majority leader Amos Kimunya after the Jubilee Parliamentary Group Meeting on June 22, 2020
Image: FREDRICK OMONDI

In September 1995, a by-election was called in Kipipiri, and President Daniel Moi’s ruling party Kanu was feeling the heat from Mwai Kibaki’s DP.

To entice voters, Moi ordered Kenya Power to erect electricity poles in the constituency and promised residents they would be connected to the grid if they voted for Joe Maina of Kanu.

When the results were announced, Githiomi Mwangi of DP had garnered 14,858 votes, while Maina had only managed 3,144, 17.5 per cent of the vote. Moi ordered the removal of the poles.  

Funny as this may sound, a near-similar scenario is playing out 25 years later, only this time it is in a different constituency.

Amos Muhinga Kimunya, the current Kipipiri MP, seems to have mastered Moi’s carrot-and-stick politics and is using it in Kiambaa, Kiambu county, where he was actually born before his family relocated to Nyandarua.

Last Sunday, the National Assembly Majority leader blatantly told residents that if they don’t vote for Jubilee Party's candidate Kariri Njama, he will withdraw the Sh2 billion allocated for rehabilitation of roads in the constituency.

“I am the one in charge of the Jubilee Party in the National Assembly. I have a list of 206 MPs. The MP for Juja [George Koimburi who was recently elected on Moses Kuria’s People Empowerment Party in a by-election] is not on my list. I cannot put him on any committee. The people of Juja have to deal with their decision.

“So, if you don’t give me Kariri Njama, do you think I’ll look after you? Even those billions you have been told have been allocated for roads, you are not the only ones who need them. If you don’t give me someone who can work with the government, those billions will also disappear,” Kimunya said.

Is Kimunya living up to his name, which means the uprooter in his native Kikuyu language?

His remarks caused a storm within the Jubilee campaign team and drew criticism from his critics. Kiambu Governor James Nyoro dismissed the remarks as personal and not reflecting the government’s policy.

“If it were government policy, President Uhuru Kenyatta wouldn’t have been in Kisumu for a week [launching projects] because we know how the voting pattern went for the President,” Governor Nyoro said on Monday.

Nyoro, who is backing the Jubilee candidate, said Kiambaa voters "are not going to be subjected to threats”.

A legislator from Central, who did not want to be named, remarked: "Kimunya continues to operate as a technocrat and not as a politician. He thinks he is above other MPs even in Parliament."

"He best works as a technocrat but is a poor politician and that's why he is making gaffes in Kiambaa. He needs to learn how to adapt to the environment.

"He sometimes shocks me when he wants to show they are on the same level with the President by, for instance, telling him 'you remember when we were in Cabinet together.' It shows he lacks emotional intelligence," the MP said. 

Kimunya, no doubt, is under pressure to deliver Kiambaa, having lost Juja and Bonchari by-elections, as well as Rurii ward in his Nyandarua backyard.

He said he would resign as Majority leader and Jubilee leader in the House if the party lost the Rurii by-election. But when it did, he said he was embarrassed but would not take responsibility as he was not the chief campaigner.

2008 VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE

Kimunya and resignation are worlds apart. He would rather die than resign, as he, as Finance Cabinet minister, once said days before he 'stepped aside' on July 8, 2008, to pave the way for the investigation into his role in the sale of the Grand Regency building (now Laico Regency).

Kimunya suffers from the typical big man syndrome and so when he got to the office of Minister of Finance, he started rubbing the wrong way his colleagues in the Cabinet
Boni Khalwale

Parliament had passed a vote of no confidence against him in a motion moved by then Ikholomani MP Boni Khalwale of the famous “Kimunya Must Go!” slogan.

Khalwale says one of the attributes that helped him easily push the motion was Kimunya’s attitude and character.

“Kimunya suffers from the typical big man syndrome and so when he got to the office of Minister of Finance, he started rubbing the wrong way his colleagues in the Cabinet,” Khalwale told KTN News in a past interview.

Former Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim, who was in charge during the motion, said Kimunya had got too close to Kibaki. And this is said to have been one of the catalysts for the vote of no confidence

“This was later linked to 2012 succession politics as Kimunya was seen as Kibaki’s blue-eyed boy within PNU. Uhuru Kenyatta was then in Kanu,” KTN reporter Duncan Khaemba says.

Kimunya termed the motion irregular, one that had not matured and did not follow the standing orders.

A commission exonerated him in a report that was never made public. And he returned to the Cabinet as Trade minister and later moved to Transport until 2013.

He lost the Kipipiri seat in 2013 to newcomer Samuel Gichigi, a Nairobi-based lawyer, on the APK—'mbas' party—ticket. But Kimunya could not take it lying down. He 'turned his gun' on the voters, accusing them of being unappreciative of his good work and told them they would regret rejecting him.

He remained in the cold until 2017, when he recaptured the seat, rising back to prominence in June last year as secretary to the Jubilee Coalition Joint Parliamentary Group and weeks later succeeding Garissa Township MP Aden Duale as Majority leader.

Party secretary general Raphael Tuju cited his experience and seniority as considerations for the appointment.

EDUCATION AND CAREER

Born on March 6, 1962, Kimunya started his schooling at Kabati Primary, proceeding to Njabini Secondary School and Shimo La Tewa High School. He was admitted to the University of Nairobi in 1986 for a Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting option). He is also a Certified Public Accountant (CPA-K) and Secretary (CPS-K)

He also holds a Global Executive Master of Business Administration and PhD in Business Administration (Finance) from USIU-Africa—programmes he undertook during his break from politics.

Prior to joining politics, he worked at Neville Russell, London on secondment in 1990-92 and as senior manager, Carr, Stanger Gitau & Company (1986-93)

In 1994, he founded Finmans Consulting and became director of Matrix Development Consultants in 1998.