alexa Matiang’i’s star rises and shines with his impressive performance - Daily Nation

Matiang’i’s star rises and shines with his impressive performance

Sunday August 11 2019

Fred Matiang'i 

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i being interviewed at his Nairobi office on April 15, 2019. As the coordinator of government business, he is the President's right-hand man. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

More by this Author

On Tuesday, five current and two former African heads of state witnessed the signing of a Swiss-brokered peace pact between the Frelimo government of Mozambique and its enemy, Renamo, in Maputo.

Absent was Kenya's President who was in Jamaica. Representing him was Dr Fred Matiang'i. He is no ordinary Interior minister.

He represents the President at important events locally and abroad, putting Deputy President William Ruto in the shade.

Convening and chairing Cabinet meetings, following up meeting decisions, tasks and timelines with colleagues, he is the President's Cabinet enforcer-in-chief.

As the coordinator of government business, he is the President's right-hand man, eye and ear, and, therefore, the first among Cabinet equals.

During the 2017 elections, Jubilee repeatedly pilloried a plan by the National Super Alliance to introduce a chief minister's office as a back-door manoeuvre to usher in a prime minister's post.



In 2019, Jubilee having retained power, Mr Kenyatta effected Nasa's plan by making Dr Matiang'i chairman of Cabinet meetings and coordinator of government business. Dr Matiang'i is chief minister or PM without the title.

When mandarins of the Building Bridges Initiative say they are considering ways of changing the Constitution without recourse to a referendum, they have the above in mind.

Needless to say, they are aware that the President invented the post of Chief Administrative Secretary in 2018 to create jobs for the boys. So, BBI appears persuaded Kenya deserves a PM in 2022.

In the meantime as Dr Matiang'i's star has risen, thanks to his impressive performance, so has his stock in the political topsy-turvy marketplace grown in value.

It was the President who in 2017 called Dr Matiang'i the third most powerful man in Kenya. He had not appointed him enforcer, but had handed him the Interior docket, which oversees security.


It was his fourth ministerial post since his appointment as IT minister in 2013 from where he was moved to Lands and then Education.

It is as if the President turns to Dr Matiang'i to run areas of government where he wants things done, sealed and delivered quickly.

However, the reading, listening and watching public took notice when he drove, as a taskmaster, Kenya's migration from analogue to digital TV. He took on the media and prevailed where many predicted his waterloo.

Kenya's is referenced as a swift and successful migration worth emulating by countries still struggling with the switch.

Next up was the Ministry of Education where Dr Matiang'i took on the textbook and examination cartels.

He dissolved the Kenya National Examinations Council and ordered national tests be marked and results released in a record time. Cheating was eliminated as was fixing of results to favour certain schools.


When Maj Joseph Nkaissery died, Mr Fixit was a shoo in at Interior. Soon his reform broom swept into the open 5,000 ghost policemen and women who were costing the taxpayer almost Sh2 billion annually.

This is why Dr Matiang'i features in the top tier of the list of possible 2022 presidential candidates after just five, but eventful years.

He is Mr Kenyatta's enforcer because as an action-oriented and results-driven man, he is crucial to the progress of his legacy-driven and therefore time-limited development of housing, healthcare, manufacturing and infrastructure.

And because Dr Matiang'i is loyal, he shields the President's Big Four from political interference and especially from Mr Ruto, whom the President feared would embroil it in endless politicking.

Does Dr Matiang'i have ambition for high office? If pre-2013 he did not now he may be tempted to.


He is close to power, has tasted it, and sees a growing constituency of supporters urge him to consider a stab at the presidency.

Importantly, thinking Kenyans say the country needs new leadership that is driven by ideas and a work-to-succeed-and-prosper ethic, the kind Dr Matiang'i appears to espouse and represent.

Dr Matiang'i's assets include the President's unstinting support, his intelligence, performance credo, versatility and being a people person. Will this new kind of powerman run? Time will tell.