Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Kenya's Environment Minister John Michuki dead at 80

The late John Michuki. Photo/FILE

The late John Michuki. Photo/FILE 

By NJERI RUGENE nrugene@ke.nationmedia.com And PETER NG’ETICH pngetich@ke.nationmedia.com

Cabinet Minister John Michuki died of a heart attack on Tuesday at the age of 80.

The Environment minister and Kangema MP, who was a close political ally of President Kibaki, died at the Intensive Care Unit of the Heart and Cancer centre of the Aga Khan Hospital, Nairobi. (Read: Michuki admitted to city hospital)

Mr Michuki was taken ill on Sunday morning two days after returning from a London Hospital, where he had been undergoing treatment since December.

Hospital sources at the time said he had been admitted in critical condition.

On Monday rumours swept social media that he had died, drawing a clarification from the government that he was in hospital and was responding to treatment.

Mr Michuki¹s last official assignment was the Durban Environmental Conference in South Africa between November 28 and December 9, last year.

He flew back home from Durban but left for the United Kingdom just before Christmas for treatment.

The minister arrived back in the country on Thursday last week from London in the company of his wife Josephine and went first to his Nairobi home.

He was later rushed to the Aga Khan hospital at 3am. His death was announced by President Kibaki last night as he left for London to attend an international conference on stabilising Somalia.

The President described him as a dear friend, colleague and patriot.

He said Mr Michuki would be remembered as a focused public servant, determined businessman and issue oriented politician.

“He was a true family friend and dependable ally. In this time of mourning we pray to God to give his family and constituents the strength and fortitude to bear the great loss,” said the President.

At the Durban meeting, Mr Michuki stated Kenya’s determination to help reduce the blow of global warming, but called on the rich countries to boost the poor ones.

He was absent on Monday during the 12th Special Session of the United Nations Environmental Programme (Unep) Governing Council Global Ministerial Environment Forum in Nairobi.

Mr Michuki will be best remembered for streamlining the matatu sector by imposing tough regulations for owners and crews, popularly known as the Michuki Rules.

He was also at the centre of the government March 2006 raid on The Standard newspaper’s offices, which he defended with the controversial remark “If you rattle a snake you should expect to be bitten.”

Mr Michuki was born in 1932 at Muguru Village, Iyego Location, Kangema Division in Murang’a County.

He was educated in Kenya and overseas, serving as a Finance Permanent Secretary in the government of Mzee Jomo Kenytatta.

On joining politics, he was appointed an assistant minister in the Moi government.

Mr Michuki had earlier served as executive chairman of Kenya Commercial Bank. He was in his fourth term as MP for Kangema Constituency.

He had a reputation as a ruthless and efficient manager. In the Internal Security ministry, he cracked down on Mungiki gangs, which had killed more than 500 people.

Murang’a County was once notorious for the sect, which had instilled fear among residents through bizarre killings and extortion.

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