Governor Kibwana to retire as Mutua eyes presidency
Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana is clear in his mind what he wants to do after his second term expires in 2022.
Prof Kibwana says this will be his last stint in elective politics.
“This will be my last term. Once I complete it, there is no turning back. I will have quit active politics,” said Prof Kibwana in September, while taking the oath of office.
Instead, he says, he will spend most of his time in retirement bonding with members of his extended family.
The decision, he says, was informed by the fact that he has not been able to spend quality time with his wife and grandchildren, owing to career-related engagements and public service.
Married to Nazi Kivutha, a philanthropist, the father of four lists among his sources of inspiration his upbringing in a humble background at Mwanyani village in the modern-day Kibwezi West Constituency.
He is arguably the most learned governor, having attained a Bachelor of Law degree from the University of Nairobi, a Masters of Law degree from the University of London, a Masters of Law degree from Harvard University, Masters of Arts in theological studies from the African International University and a doctorate in Juridical Science from George Washington University in the United States.
The soft-spoken Prof Kibwana is passionate about the promise of devolution in liberalising and developing rural communities and the country at large.
This is one of the reasons the former University of Nairobi don has remained a darling of most of the county residents.
His political mantra, ‘O kila nyumba kalila’ (opportunity for every household,) espouses his conviction on equity.
The agenda of his government in the second term is enhancing access to water for domestic use and for small-scale irrigation, as well as enhancing access to affordable healthcare.
Prof Kibwana, a former lecturer at the University of Nairobi, was one of the most active fighters in Kenya’s second liberation movement. He was instrumental in pushing for the Inter Parties Parliamentary Group deal that led to minimal constitutional changes before the 1997 elections but was disappointed that it was thereafter hijacked by politicians.
This informed his decision to enter politics in 2002, serving as MP for Makueni Constituency until 2007.
He then served as an adviser to former President Mwai Kibaki on constitutional, parliamentary and youth affairs before he was elected as the first Makueni governor on a Muungano Party ticket in 2013.
Possible post-retirement engagements for Prof Kibwana include consulting on governance, legal, and human rights issues and even teaching.
He was recently appointed chairman of Wiper, the most popular party in Ukambani.
Meanwhile, Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua’s dream to become Kenya’s next president is still very much alive.
Dr Mutua has in the recent past taken every available opportunity to project himself as a nationalist.
Dr Mutua attended the annual teachers’ convention in Mombasa in December, a move seen to be aimed at enhancing his grassroots networks and support among teachers nationwide.
And in May 2017, the governor, a former government spokesman, hosted more than 16,000 leaders from Ukambani region at the People’s Park in Machakos.
During the meeting, the leaders, mainly from Machakos, Makueni, Kitui, Kwale and Taita-Taveta counties, prevailed upon him to seek the top seat in 2022.
They further endorsed him to be the Kamba nation spokesperson, a move that was not well received by supporters of Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka, the community’s de-facto spokesman.
Dr Mutua left Wiper Party and formed his own party ahead of the 2017 elections. He said the move to form Maendeleo Chap Chap was driven by the desire to offer a people-driven leadership.
Buoyed by the dwindling fortunes of the Wiper Party, especially after the Nasa coalition failed to clinch the presidency, Dr Mutua has been keen to capitalise on their loss.
But even as he keeps his eye on the ultimate prize, Dr Mutua still has a major hurdle ahead. His election as governor has been challenged in a petition filed by Ms Wavinya Ndeti, the Wiper Party candidate.
The petition could be a costly blow to Dr Mutua’s ambitions should his victory be nullified.