Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i is building a national political following that his friends now say is a step towards taking a shot at the Presidency in 2022.
However, Dr Matiang’i insists he is not engaged in any political activity. He says his public engagements are purely for development and should not be mistaken for political activity.
But close associates say that Dr Matiang’i, who has so far kept his cards close to his chest about his plan post-Uhuru Kenyatta Presidency, has increased his dalliance with influential governors and political players, among them Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua.
In what appears to be carefully selected events, Dr Matiang’i has traveled to various counties to widen his following.
However, in a telephone interview on Friday, Dr Matiang’i stated that his public appearances are purely to initiate or supervise development projects in line with his ministerial position. His position in government requires him to oversee other ministries.
“I have not been involved in any political activity,” he said. “I have been engaged in development activities, pure and simple.”
He added: “But in doing this, I have been in the company of political leaders and I have heard them make those comments. I can’t say anything about that now. But we live in a democracy and there is freedom of expression. I can’t gag anyone.”
He said he has been given specific assignments by President Kenyatta that he has to accomplish.
“The President has given me a specific assignment, that is what I am doing. But I can’t do it alone. I have to work with wananchi and leaders,” he added.
The CS is also said to be working closely with his Cabinet colleague Eugene Wamalwa, one of the key leaders in western Kenya.
A few days ago, Mr Wamalwa, the Devolution CS, joined Dr Matiang’i and Prof George Magoha (Education), Joe Mucheru (ICT) and Keriako Tobiko (Environment) in visits to Nyanza counties.
The Cabinet Secretaries, in a powerful and well-packaged message, said their support for Dr Matiang’i was unwavering.
The Saturday Nation also learnt that opposition Raila Odinga has listed Dr Matiang’i among the individuals he might support for the presidency in 2022 if he will not be on the ballot.
Mr Odinga’s ODM party has dropped its past criticism of the CS with a number of its key officials becoming the latest defenders of Dr Matiang’i.
Just two weeks ago, ODM party chairman John Mbadi and Minority Whip Junet Mohamed praised the CS for being an “effective and efficient leader in various positions he has held in government.”
In what seemed to be his support for a Dr Matiang’i presidency, Mr Mbadi says that Dr Matiang’i “deserves a promotion.”
“When you are performing you aspire to get promotion. Kuna kitu inakuja hapa mbele na itakuwa na watu karibu tano, tunahakika utakuwa hapo (There is something in the offing in the near future and it comprises five people, and we expect you will be one of them),” the Suba North MP said during an event held two weeks ago.
Some of the CS’ handlers also believe he could be President Kenyatta’s heir apparent or the surprise 2022 candidate following the handshake between the Jubilee Party leader and his rival-turned-friend, Mr Odinga.
Once considered as an abrasive, cold and unwelcoming technocrat who was unpopular among the Gusii leaders, the CS appears to have registered a turnaround of fortunes with most of the elected leaders in the region now endorsing him for the presidency in 2022.
“We are rallying our people to support Dr Matiang’i for the presidency in 2022. We have been having meetings with youth, women and church leaders so as to strategise,” Nyamira County Woman Representative Jerusha Momanyi, who is a close ally of the CS, says………………………………..