Election war councils: Kibaki

Ten months to the general election, leading presidential contenders president Kibaki, Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka have assembled their war councils in readiness for battle. The respective kitchen cabinets, among other things, aim to craft winning strategies for the candidates, raise campaign slush funds and coordinate publicity and propaganda to beat the competition. We look at who is who in the candidates’ kitchen cabinet.

President Kibaki has assembled a multi-layered team comprising of his traditional friends from the days of the Democratic party (DP) as well as a galaxy of new faces that reads like who is who in Kenya’s corporate scene.

The first level in Kibaki’s team are professionals, including leading academics, technocrats and lawyers. Insiders say that this group, which meets twice a week at a Nairobi hotel, is led by Professor Nick Wanjohi, the vice chancellor of the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. Others in this group include Alex Mureithi, the presidents’ nephew, Machira Gichohi, the Managing Director of the Kenya Dairy Board, Jean Kamau, a prominent lawyer working at the International Republican Institute and lawyer Lee Muthoga.

This group mainly brainstorms on strategy and has been weighing the various options they think can work to ensure Kibaki gets a second and last term at State House.

The second tier in Kibaki’s kitchen cabinet is a group of corporate heads cutting across the entire business spectrum. Some of the CEOs in this group are Gerald Mahinda, the Managing Director, East Africa Breweries, Evans Kidero, Chief Executive Mumias Sugar, Adan Mohamed, the CEO of Barclays Bank, Lee Karuri, the Chairman of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance and industrialist Manu Chandaria. Others are James Mwangi, the chief executive of Equity Bank, and Godfrey Karuri, the chairman, Gateway Insurance.

According to insiders, meetings by this group are chaired by state house based permanent secretary for strategy, Stanley Murage.

The third layer in the Kibaki team is a group of old timers who have stood with Kibaki ever since his first stab at presidency in the 1992 election. This group is loosely referred to as the “Muthaiga Club” as most of them used to play golf with the president prior to the 2002 election. The group consists of what has always been the DP council of elders, a group of wealthy businessmen who have largely funded Kibaki campaigns since 1992.

Insiders say the team leader of this group is Julius Gecau, a long-serving former Managing Director of Kenya Power and Lighting Company. Gecau served at KPLC during the Kenyatta era. He was unceremoniously shown the door by retired President Moi in 1984 and replaced by Samuel Gichuru who served until the Narc government came to power in 2003.

Names in this group include Nat Kang’ethe of MCL, Saatchi and Saatchi, the international public relations firm, Eddy Njoroge the managing of Kengen, Peter Kanyago, a businessman and chairman, Othaya Development Group, George Muhoho, tha Managing Director Kenya Airports Authority, Duncan Ndegwa, former Central Bank Governor, and Joe Wanjui, a businessman and Chancellor of the Nairobi University.

Until 2002 when he briefly abandoned Kibaki and joined the Uhuru Kenyatta campaign, Cabinet Minister Njenga Karume was the most visible face of the Muthaiga Group and also Chairman of the DP council of elders.

The Muthaiga Group act as the final sieve of the decisions made by the other groups. Its advice mostly determines the course of action the president takes. The three teams are coordinated by Ms. Judy Wanjiku Kibaki, the president’s eldest daughter, who doubles as secretary to all the three think-tanks.

Some names in the Kibaki war cabinet

George Muhoho
The former priest has been a friend to Kibaki since their days as cabinet ministers in the Moi government. He is the elder brother of Mama Ngina Kenyatta and uncle to official opposition leader Uhuru Kenyatta. The soft-spoken Managing Director of the Kenya Airports Authority is among the DP founder members where he serves as member of the party’s council of elders.

Eddy Njoroge
He is the managing director of Kengen company. Though a long time friend of President Kibaki and his main campaign fund-raiser, little else is known about him. He hardly appears in public. Until recently his photographs were a rarity in the media. He comes from Kanjeru village in Kabete constituency.

Peter Kanyago
He is a long-time associate of the president, coming from the same Othaya constituency. He is the chairman of Othaya Development Association. He is also a key co-ordinator of Kibaki’s fund-raising activities. A successful businessman, Kanyago chairs boards of giant companies including the freight-forwarding Express Kenya, East Africa Couriers, East Africa Elevators (OTIS), Toyota Kenya Foundation and the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (KEMSA). Together with Nat Kang’ethe, they own the local franchise of MCL Saatchi and Saatchi, the international advertising and public relations firm that has run the multi-million shilling publicity for Kibaki’s presidential bid since 1992.

Nat Kang’ethe
He is among the first Africans to be registered as a member of the Chartered Institute of Accountants and to establish an audit firm, Nat Kang’ethe and Associates. The firm has clients ranging from government agencies to international companies and NGOs.

Lee Karuri
Trained as an architect at the University of Nairobi, Karuri took over the chairmanship of Kenya Private Sector Alliance from Arun Devani, a pioneer Kenyan industrialist, in 2005. a staunch Christian and keen golfer, Karuri has turned KEPSA into a vocal organization that now speaks on public affairs. The association has been particularly vocal in promoting the so-called public-private sector partnership.

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One Response to Election war councils: Kibaki

MainaT said...

I think what baba Jummi has done better than his predecessors is capturing what one can call key influencers of the Economy into his fold. However, this alone will not win him these elctions-he still needs and lacks populist politicians.