Thursday, July 17, 2008



By Okech Kendo
The Standard
July 17, 2008

At 76 (his official age), John Michuki is the most competent Minister for Finance there ever could be in the next four years of business as usual.

By picking on the Kangema MP, a man with so much past he cannot be restrained by the future, President Kibaki could not have made a better choice.

Kibaki, who enjoys a contentious presidential mandate, has exhausted his quota of the eligible. He ran out of options because, given the experience of the last six years, the prefect of the Treasury must be an ally from the inner sanctum.

The choice is also not unexpected after other options were reported to have declined the opportunity to walk the corridors paved with money. Politicians about three decades younger apparently pleaded cowardice, saying they could not step into Amos Kimunya’s spiked shoes.

Deputy PM and Minister for Trade Uhuru Kenyatta is said to have declined the job, not for lack of accounting or financial skills.

Perhaps the Gatundu North MP considered he could still have a future beyond this error. He may also have wanted to avoid the temptation of working too close to the kitchen, lest the hand raids the wrong till.

Kiraitu Murungi, also about two decades younger than Michuki, is said to have declined the offer to manage money. Possibly because the energy portfolio he occupies, is also a critical ‘project’ ministry. But it is possible Kiraitu, who was once baptised with fire, wanted nothing to do with the tempest.

After ducking the Anglo Leasing spike, Kiraitu knows better than getting too close to the fat.

“You got me sacked,” Kiraitu told reporters in 2006. “What more do you want from me?”

He was ducking cameras aimed at his face, swelling with clashing emotions. Kiraitu had then stepped aside, following the publication of the John Githongo Dossier.

Githongo, the governance and ethics PS who fled into exile after princes of corruption got agitated, claimed Kiraitu had asked him to “go slow” on Anglo Leasing investigation.

Githongo, of the “those-who-domesticate-a-skunk-shouldn’t-complain-of-its-foul smell” fame, claimed the Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister reportedly described Anglo Leasing as “the scandal that never was”.

After returning to the Cabinet through presidential discretion, Kiraitu knows better than to risk walking the thorny path paved with gold.

He saw former Finance Minister David Mwiraria burn. He has also seen Kimunya roast in the fat of grand deceit. Now he knows better than to go there, even as acting minister.

Fatal censure

With an emboldened Parliament, having tasted blood and baying for more, Kiraitu is not the one to take a job that could mean he would soon be playing audience to lynch-thirsty peers.

Information and Communication Minister Samuel Poghisio is also said to have replied, ‘No, thank you’ (in the Great Banquet fashion), when cited as a possible candidate for future parliamentary lynching.

The Kacheliba MP, who would have been an outsider at Treasury, knows better than to pick up a rope for self-destruction.

To volunteer his neck after Mwiraria and Kimunya had been strung up would be reckless.

Whoever said young people tend to be lily-livered was right. But it is cowards who survive to see the dawn of another day.

They know the brave Kimunya is wounded. The peer censure was fatal. Not even a friendly probe can sanitise the former minister within the life of the Tenth Parliament. Rekindling ‘Kimunya 2012’ would be troubled even if the Kipipiri MP were amnestied. Which is unlikely because Kimunya overlooked the Privatisation Act and the Procurement and Disposal Act to win the love of Brother Leader Muammar Gadaffi, via the surrender of Grand Regency Hotel.

Four years yonder, cowards will recall that along Nairobi’s Harambee Avenue once sauntered a brave Minister for Finance who never survived to enjoy the fat of the Treasury to full term.

The projects for which his PNU sponsors refused to cede Finance were tempting. Being a mere mortal, the mind was willing but the body was weak.

That Michuki acts at The Treasury after the Mwiraria and Kimunya slaughter is courageous.

Michuki, who is also the Minister for Environment, has travelled murkier roads. The highway cannot get messier.

With the Artur saga occupying a conspicuous place in his resume and the rattle roll poking out like a riotous viper, the man who fought Mungiki sect with demented courage, is true to character.

He never disappoints. With too much past at the end of the future, no mountain would be too steep to climb.