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Kibaki loses his chief envoy and trusted pointman

Wednesday October 27 2010

By EMEKA-MAYAKA GEKARA, [email protected] and SAMUEL SIRINGI [email protected]

Mr Moses Wetang’ula, the Foreign Affairs minister who stepped aside on Wednesday was not only President Kibaki’s chief diplomat but also point man in Western Kenya.

Following the poor performance of President Kibaki’s PNU in Western Province during the last election, Mr Wetang’ula has been the highest ranking PNU politician from the region. The other is Housing minister Soita Shitanda.

Besides, the Sirisia MP has been fighting for political supremacy of Bungoma county as well the leadership of Ford-Kenya, a party with a sizeable following in the region.

Mr Wetang’ula was thrust into the limelight when President Kibaki dispatched him to broker peace following the 2008 post-election violence.

The Ford-Kenya MP had just been appointed to Cabinet on January 8 in what was President Kibaki’s half-Cabinet after the disputed poll.
Before his appointment, Mr Wetang’ula was an assistant minister in the same ministry.

During the Serena talks, Mr Wetang’ula teamed up with the likes of Gichugu MP Martha Karua and Prof Sam Ongeri to vigorously defend President Kibaki against accusations that he had stolen the election.

In his response to the United Kingdom regarding the presidential election, Mr Wetang’ula summoned High Commissioner Adam Wood, to complain, and told him that “our elections don’t need a stamp of authority from the House of Commons”.

After a power-sharing agreement was reached between President Kibaki and Mr Raila Odinga, both of whom claimed victory in the presidential election, Mr Wetang’ula retained his post in the Grand Coalition Cabinet named on April 13, 2008.

Mr Wetang’ula’s defence of President Kibaki has been extended to Parliament where he has been teaming up with cabinet ministers Kiraitu Murungi (Energy) and Mutula Kilonzo (Justice and Constitutional Affairs) in battles pitting PNU against the ODM, especially those of a legal nature.

Nominated to Parliament by Kanu after the 1992 general election, Mr Wetang’ula had served as a magistrate and the chairman Electricity Regulatory Board. He was elected to the National Assembly in the December 2007 parliamentary election.

Thuita Mwangi

The Tokyo embassy scandal has halted a two-decade old career of top public servant Thuita Mwangi.

For 22 years, Mr Mwangi climbed the ladder in the service to become the chief Foreign Affairs ministry accounting officer by the Grand Coalition government.

He was appointed permanent secretary on July 19, 2006.

So long was his time in the public service that the lawyer, who holds a masters degree, spoke on Wednesday of building dignity and integrity during the period.

But sadly the two tenets he was proud of were the very ones brought to question by the parliamentary team that said some, or all of his actions, led to the loss of Sh1.1 billion in the Japanese embassy deal.

As he headed toward the exit door on Wednesday, Mr Mwangi said: “I step aside purely as a matter of personal dignity and professional integrity - indeed, the very same dignity and integrity I have upheld in the performance of my duties for more than 22 years of public service at various levels in the government.”

Before he was appointed to the position Mr Mwangi was a principal administrative secretary, Office of the President where he was also an assistant secretary to the Cabinet.

He also at one time served as director of Political Affairs in the Foreign Affairs ministry, where he left on Wednesday in the eye of a storm.