Kenya: Kagwe Asks Gusii to Back Matiang'i for Top Seat

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe on Friday told the Abagusii that one of their sons had the potential of clinching the presidency if they supported and protected him from "external political forces".

Using the parable of an expectant woman, Mr Kagwe said the people of Gusii should read the signs of the time and unite so that the rest of the country can in turn support their son to lead Kenya.

Mr Kagwe's remarks at a leaders' meeting held at the Kisii County Assembly grounds seemed to target his Cabinet colleague, Dr Fred Matiang'i, who is from the region and who has been touted as a potential presidential contender in 2022.

"If you see a protruding tummy of a woman and it continues to grow, what do you think is growing in there? Just use eyes to conclude that a child is about to be born," said Mr Kagwe to ululations from the attendees. "If you do not nurture and protect the expectant mother, feed and protect her from external dangers, you would blame yourself if she loses the pregnancy."

"You, Abagusii, know that in politics, people fight and undercut one another. But this is not the time for political backstabbing. If you behave normally, the world will treat you normally," Mr Kagwe added.

Dr Matiang'i, who attended the meeting, did not respond to Mr Kagwe's remarks and steered off politics.

Although the two leaders rallied residents behind President Uhuru Kenyatta, it was clear that Dr Matiang'i is being fronted for the presidency in the next polls.

Four-day-tour

Mr Kagwe and Dr Matiang'i are in the Nyanza region on a four-day tour to assess the impact of Covid-19 in Kisii, Homa Bay, Kisumu and Bomet counties and their preparedness.

The ministers were received by dozens of residents who lined the streets of Kisii town.

Later, the Health CS briefed the nation on the Covid-19 situation, reporting 727 new infections from a sample of 6,814 people.

Five of the new cases are from Kisii. The cumulative cases in the country are 25,138.

Kisii Governor James Ongwae reiterated that the community has come of age and that the Interior CS will represent them when it comes to sharing the national cake.

Kisii Senator Prof Sam Ongeri, MPs Richard Onyonka (Kitutu Chache South), Jimmy Agweny (Kitutu Chache North) Richard Tong'i (Nyaribari Chache) and Woman Rep Janet Ong'era led their constituents in urging the CS to declare his interest in leading the country.

"We have our son here who has left a mark in all the ministries he has served. We are urging our people to rally behind him for the highest seat in the country," said Prof Ongeri.

Apart from the political class, four Cabinet Secretaries have voiced their support for Dr Matiang'i. Prof George Magoha (Education), Joe Mucheru (ICT), Keriako Tobiko (Environment) and Eugene Wamalwa (Devolution) last year said their support for Dr Matiang'i was unwavering.

The Abagusii Council of Elders even anointed him and his colleagues and the Gusii leaders then.

In their prayers and in what was seen as a direct endorsement for the presidency, they likened the CS with the biblical David and asked him to keep fighting for the welfare of Kenyans.

Although the CS has not personally announced plans to run for any political seat, calls for him to vie the highest office in the country have been growing.

Council of Governors chairman and Kakamega governor Wycliffe Oparanya also attended the long-day event accompanied by Budalang'i MP Raphael Wanjala and Busia Woman Rep Florence Mutua.

Mr Kagwe said men continue to lead in the number of infections, with 539 male against 188 female patients.

Behaviour pattern

"Our behaviour pattern is not helping us," said the CS, as he explained that men have been blatantly flouting Covid-19 guidelines. "Congratulations to our health workers. Even those in home care are still being observed by community health workers."

Mr Kagwe and Dr Matiang'i lauded Governor Ongwae for preparing his county to handle Covid-19 cases.

"I am proud of what Kisii has done today. They have more than 300 isolation beds and we are here to ensure they get a testing centre," he said.

CS Matiang'i warned owners of bars that continue to operate against the ban on the sale of alcohol, saying their licences will be revoked.

"The President issued a very clear directive. We will take the licences of bars that continue to risk the lives of Kenyans," said the Interior CS.

Mr Oparanya said the national government had released Sh 29.7 billion for counties.

"I thank the President for ensuring the release of this money," said the Council of Governors chair.

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