Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi has earned admiration from many Kenyans for his style of leadership and how he has mustered success in portfolios he has been assigned since 2013.
The accolades have been so much so that talk of his ascension to the presidency come 2022 has gained momentum especially since his elevation to the Interior docket and, vide a presidential executive order in 2018, to become ‘super CS’.
There are loud whispers on the corridors of power, starting with operatives at Harambee House, that the man is the compromise candidate to succeed Uhuru Kenyatta as Head of State in just over two years.
While that admiration and accolades are befitting of the man before whom leaders from the larger Gusii region pay homage to, some not-so-good rumours are emerging and that might hurt him back home in Kisii.
First is talk that he is protecting corrupt governors John Nyagarama (Nyamira) and James Ongwae (Kisii) from being investigated for alleged massive corruption in their relative where counties.
Billions are said to have been plundered under the watch of the two men since they came into office in August 2013.
Citizens of the two counties are seemingly frustrated that their cries are falling on deaf ears because Matiangi is protecting the two governors because they are supporting his ambitions. This is generating a degree of heat and pressure on the man nicknamed Magufuli for his abrasive style of getting things done.
Kisii Deputy Governor is the highest profile Kisii leader to openly come out on this matter, saying Matiangi has to drop the two governors like a hot potato because they were hiding under the guise of supporting him to avoid prosecution.
This maybe neither here nor there but suggestions that he is blocking any Kisii from rising above him might be the strongest indictment against the South-Mugirango man who migrated to Nyamira County.
Matiangi is said to be against any Kisii being appointed to any powerful position at national level for fear of being outshone. Indeed, his critics have been vocal that Matiangi’s ethos is nothing unique to him as a person but a demonstration that any Kisii worth their salt would deliver once they are given the freedoms and latitude to work.
Veteran politician Simeon Nyachae comes to mind in this regard. Conincidentally, Nyachae is the man whose blessings gave then unknown Matiangi the job in 2013.
Matiangi is said to block any appointment of a Kisii whenever he has been consulted over suitability of such persons. One such individual, who will remain anonymous because of his preference in public service, stayed in the cold for more than five years because the ‘super CS’ was uncomfortable with him being appointed to any position.
It is said that the man, who has since been appointed to head a key parastatal was the CS designate for Omogusii but the dynamics in 2013 were unfavourable for his appointment, giving Matiangi the chance.
Matiangi is given credit, at least in public, for the plum positions Omogusii has been given under the Jubilee administration but those in the know opine that he has always opposed such appointments by the President and the names have passed without his knowledge. He would have no say on whether or not President Kenyatta would appoint Ken Ogeto as Solicitor-General and neither would his opinion count on the David Maraga’s appointment as Chief Justice.
Other appointments he would have no say in include the chairman of the National land Commission and Controller of Budget positions, among others.
Kurunzi understands that even where Matiangi has been okay with a Kisii being appointed, he has silently waged wars against those individuals, especially when they show evidence of performance at national level.
Word has it that a qualified Professor Mbeche, who has been acting vice chancellor of the University of Nairobi could not be confirmed because the ‘super CS’ saw no need to have him confirmed despite intense lobbying by a section of Gusii leaders. They allege ‘the CS seemed disinterested in putting in a word for the professor to be appointed’.
“He was qualified and did well with the interview but there was no one to speak for him so he lost the chance,” a source privy to how the new VC was appointed told Kurunzi.
It is said that Manduku’s performance has earned him admiration and favour by the powers that be and the vicious fight by procurement cartels do not bother Matiangi because, allegedly, he sees Manduku as a possible threat to his profile as the only performing Kisii at the national government.
South Mugirango MP Sylvanus Osoro has been vocal in dismissing Matiangi’s position as mere cosmetics and a personal gain as opposed to being a community benefit. According to Osoro, Matiangi has not helped any Kisii except his psycophants, who sing his name ‘to earn cheap handouts’.
Matiangi has also quietly faced the heat for either being behind or enjoying Kenya Ports Authority Managing Director Daniel Manduku’s woes at the port.
Osoro and a section of elected Kisii leaders have sustained their support for Deputy President William Ruto as the best choice for Omogusii come 2022.
Be that as it may and while the allegations against the CS may be at large and various, the truth is that Omogusii is divided on how beneficial Matiangi’s ‘super CS’ status has been to the community and only time will tell.
Daggers will be drawn and the terrain in the larger Kisii region would not be as smooth for Matiangi as certain quarters want to impress about the Gusii votes, he has a lot to do to galvanize the Kisii votes.