Third Eye

The most powerful personalities in Meru and Tharaka Nithi today

Since independence when it comes to power, politics trumps business in Kenya, Meru and Tharaka Nithi Counties are no exception.  The two Counties have been at the heart of countless game-changing political moments around the Country.

Meru and Tharaka Nithi Counties boast of a couple of rigorous political leaders coupled with strategic geographical support and financial muscle.

To get a good glimpse of the most powerful people in the two Counties, County Focus Newspaper spoke to two cherished political analysts in the region.

Salesio Thuranira Mutuma and Alex Kiambi are respected political analysts based in Meru whose thought-provoking analysis has seen them invited to several media houses countless times to offer their insight.

At the moment there are seven undisputed powerful politicians in Meru and Tharaka Nithi by virtue of their positions and years of political experience. Cabinet Secretaries Mithika Linturi and Kithure Kindiki, Senator Kathuri Murungi, Governor Muthomi Njuki, Kawira Mwangaza, former Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi and former Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya command fanatical following and political stature no other politician in the two Counties can hold a candle to.

However, apart from the ‘seven captains’ we have listed other powerful politicians in Meru and Tharaka Nithi to watch out for ahead of the 2027 general elections.

Though this list includes several prime leaders, it also includes other figures, including some who have never contested any election, but whose influence has still been considerable.

CS Kithure Kindiki

The former Tharaka Nithi Senator broke the glass ceiling becoming the first Cabinet Secretary from the County since independence. The Sh 544 million worth man is obviously the most powerful man in his County right now. His brand Knowledge of law and politics endeared him to not only Kenyans but also to President William Ruto who awarded him the plum job.

CS Kithure Kindiki

Prof Kindiki served as Senator for Tharaka-Nithi in the 2013 and 2017 polls.  He clinched the seat on his first attempt at elective politics.

He was then elected the first leader of the Majority in the Senate, a position he held until he became the Deputy Speaker after the 2017 general elections.

Kindiki was however de-whipped from the position in 2020, a casualty of the fall-out between former President Uhuru Kenyatta and President Ruto.

Before joining politics, he served as a lecturer at Moi and Nairobi universities and started his teaching career in 1999 as a Law lecturer at Moi University.

In 2004 he joined the University of Nairobi where he served until 2005 when he returned to Moi to head the department of Public Law.

He served as Secretary of the National Cohesion in the Ministry of Justice soon after the 2008 post-election violence and was instrumental in the drafting of the National Cohesion and Integration Act.

However, he resigned after three months and accused the government of lacking political will to resettle hundreds of thousands of people who were displaced by the 2007/08 post-poll skirmishes.

CS Kindiki was thrown into the public limelight when Ruto appointed him to his legal team when he faced crimes against humanity charges at the ICC.

CS Mithika Linturi

Mr Linturi is the current Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture and Livestock Development a position that was earlier held by Peter Munya during former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s era.

The Sh 1.2 worth CS is by any description a controversial but also very colourful politician with a penchant for exceeding expectations.

Controversial is the word that has marked his public life in three parliamentary terms since he made a debut as Igembe South MP on a Kanu ticket in 2007. He set the political scene ablaze when he proposed a Vote of No Confidence motion against then-powerful Devolution and Planning Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru in 2015.

In August 2022 he unsuccessfully contested for the Meru County gubernatorial seat where he lost to the current Governor Kawira Mwangaza. He previously served as the senator for Meru County after winning in the 2017 General election on a Jubilee Party ticket. Political analysts believe that he is one of the powerful Meru leaders who have usurped influence by being in the ruling party and of which they surmounted the odds against an incumbent system to prevail and the president can give him an audience anytime.

Senator Kathuri Murungi

Kathuri previously served as the South Imenti Member of Parliament having been elected in the 2017 General Election as an independent candidate.

He was elected as the Meru Senator in the 2022 General Elections after vying on a United Democratic Alliance (UDA) ticket.

Currently, Kathuri serves as Deputy Senate Speaker. Of late Kathuri has emerged as one of the most powerful icons in the Meru leadership.

Muthomi Njuki

Njuki is the second and Incumbent Governor of Tharaka Nithi County in Kenya after being elected on the UDA ticket in the 2022 general election. Before being elected Governor, he served as the Chuka/Igambang’ombe Member of Parliament from 2013-2017. He remains powerful by virtue of the office he holds.

Kawira Mwangaza

Mwangaza is believed to be passionate about his duties-if not a bit overzealous. However, the hostility between her and the MCAs has seen her being labelled as a lame duck whose influence has considerably dwindled. Despite this Mwangaza cannot be wholly ruled out as she was able to elbow out a political maestro and one of the most experienced political leaders in Kenya Kiraitu Murungi in the 2022 general election.

Meru governor Kawira Mwangaza on October 24, 2022. She has refused to respond to allegations raised by EACC saying she is yet to receive the letter from the anti graft agency. PHOTO/DAVID MUCHUI

Mwangaza started her political journey by unsuccessfully vying for the Buuri Constituency Parliamentary seat in 2013, however, this did not deter her passion and determination to become a political leader. She later got elected in 2017 as the Meru woman representative before later making history by unseating Mr Kiraitu in the gubernatorial contest in the 2022 general elections

Ayub Bundi

Bundi has been accused numerously by Governor Kawira Mwangaza and his allies of using his powers as the speaker of the Meru County Assembly to fan the conflicts between the MCAs and the embattled Governor.

Bundi is the former Meru County Assembly Minority Leader. He was elected as the Speaker of the Meru County Assembly after garnering 35 votes out of 69 in the second round of voting

Titus Ibui

Ibui is the Chairman of the LAPPSET Corridor Development Authority. LAPPSET is a regional infrastructure partnership between Ethiopia, Kenya and South Sudan which Kenya hopes will strengthen its position as a gateway to East Africa and the Great Lakes region. Ibui is also the founder and Executive Director of Bell Industries Limited an agro-business and health solutions company.

Ibui was one of the leaders of the Mt Kenya foundation who endorsed Raila Odinga for the presidency ahead of the 2022 elections.

According to Kiambi, Ibui leads a guild of the wealthy and for a long period, their choice of anyone in politics prevailed except for the last elections.

“Still they remain that exclusive club whose investment counts for a greater portion of our GDP hence their influence remains unchallenged,” Kiambi adds.

John Mbabu

Mbabu managed to be re-elected a second time as the Speaker of the County Assembly of Tharaka Nithi. His influence helped him defeat his worthy competitors.

Martha Koome

Chief Justice Martha Koome is currently one of the most powerful people in Kenya.

Appointed as Kenya’s first female chief justice in May 2021, Martha Koome has handed down the most important judgment in her short career as the nation’s most senior judge by upholding Deputy President William Ruto’s victory over Raila Odinga in the 9 August presidential election. She gave her verdict in a calm, and some would say understated manner, but her words were powerful

Koome was nominated recently among the top 100 most influential women in Africa. The selection included leaders The selection criteria included excellence in leadership and performance, personal accomplishments, commitment to sharing knowledge, breaking the status quo, and bringing an accomplished African Woman.

Japhet Koome

Japhet Koome is currently the fourth Inspector General of the National Police Service.

Engineer Japheth Koome, who has 31 years of experience in the Police Service joined the police service in 1991 when he was enlisted in the then-Kenya Police Force as a Police Constable. This was after graduating from the University of Nairobi in 1990, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering.

Patrick Kiburi

Having been appointed the Permanent Secretary State Department for Cooperatives Mr Patrick Kiburi who hails from Meru joins the list of powerful people today. The smart-minded PS has been the force behind some of the powerful politicians in Meru

Kiraitu Murungi

Love him or hate him, Kiraitu Murungi is a political guru who apart from being very experienced politically also survived in politics and never tasted defeat for 30 years. Murungi was first elected to Parliament in 1992. He contested on the Ford-Kenya Party ticket to represent South Imenti Constituency in the National Assembly. Ever since he’s been on a long-standing winning streak.

In 1997, Mr Kiraitu defended his seat on a Democratic Party (DP) ticket. In the December 2002 general election, he successfully defended his seat on a NARC ticket.

Similarly, he returned to Parliament on a Party of National Unity (PNU) ticket in 2007.

In the March 4, 2013, general election, he won the Meru senatorial seat on the Alliance Party of Kenya (APK) ticket.

In the following general election that was held on August 8, 2017, he ran for Meru governorship on a Jubilee Party ticket, defeating the incumbent Peter Munya of the Party of National Unity (PNU).

During his stint as a lawmaker in the Daniel Moi and Mwai Kibaki governments, Murungi served in various ministerial positions including the ministries of Justice and Energy respectively.

Murungi had mastered the art of political survival, reinvention and positioning. He knew when to jump ship, when to fold a political party and when to forge alliances all to his advantage.

Were it not for Kawira Mwangaza, he’d have, possibly, retired as a political born-winner. However, pundits believe that for the first time in his political career he made a wrong move by endorsing Raila Odinga for the presidency and thus lost the seat.

He was however handed a soft landing after losing his re-election bid, jetting to a new job as amember of the Kenya Law Reform Commission (KLRC).

“He’s out of active politics but his 30 years in politics that have seen him be anything anyone can be in Kenyan politics except the Presidency gives him quite an enormous amount of influence you can’t ignore. His networks are vast and known to be one of the best boardroom schemers still alive. His influence will never wane and will remain,” Alex Kiambi, a political analyst tells County Focus.

Gitonga Mugambi

Mugambi is the PS State Department for Irrigation. Mugambi is a passionate leader and seasoned agronomist. The PS is passionate about irrigation and says one of his biggest dreams is to see Kenya food-secure through irrigated agriculture. Mr. Mugambi holds a Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management from Kenya Methodist University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Agronomy from the University of Nairobi. He is also an accomplished agronomist with experience of more than 30 years in planning and strategy, resource mobilization, and formulation of irrigation development programs such as the Economic Stimulus Programme. 

Roseline Njogu

Ms Roserlyn is the Principal Secretary of the State Department for Diaspora Affairs, Ministry of Foreign and Diaspora Affairs.

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