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Why Governor Ongwae and CS Matiang’i may determine Gusii region’s vote

By Erick Abuga | October 24th 2021

ODM Leader Raila Odinga with Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi and Kisii Governor James Ongwae (right) at Mwongori Secondary School in Nyamira County on October 22, 2021.[Sammy Omingo, Standard]

Governor James Ongwae and Interior and Coordination Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i could likely shape Gusii region’s 2022 politics.

On Friday, Raila called on the leaders to work together and ensure that they have united the region. “I understand the Gusii region and I know Ongwae and Matiang'i as visionary leaders without selfish interests.”

Last month, Gusii ODM leaders, while attending the party’s Nyanza convention meeting in Sikri Homa Bay County, read out their resolutions and called on Raila to work with Matiang’i, and governors Ongwae of Kisii and his Nyamira counterpart Amos Nyaribo.

The resolutions read by Ongwae indicated that the Abagusii community should be recognised as the seventh-largest community.

Unlike other leaders from the region, Ongwae and Matiang'i enjoy a direct relationship with President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila.

Early this year, Ongwae successfully delivered for ODM in two by-elections in Bonchari Constituency and Kiamokama Ward.

On Friday, Matiang’i declared he cannot go against his boss President Uhuru Kenyatta’s political stand. The CS has not explicitly stated his next political step, but has been vocal only about social-economic development back at home.

Since 2013, Matiang’i has served in several dockets. He later acquired the tag of ‘Super CS’ after President Kenyatta tasked him with chairing the powerful National Development Implementation and Communication Cabinet Committee, which is charged with the monitoring and implementation of all development projects.

The CS says that on most occasions leaders had failed the country. “In more ways than one, people have been given responsibility and decided to do something else.”

Political analyst Dismus Mokua argues that the CS has a blank cheque. “He can opt to serve in the Uhuru administration till the end and retire from public office with Uhuru. He can also secure blessings from President Kenyatta and run for public office. He can as well position himself for a role in the next administration by serving Kenya in a manner that anybody who takes over will retain him in his administration because of his credentials.”  

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