- Since gaining independence in 1963, Kenya has maintained remarkable stability, despite changes in its political system and crises in neighbouring countries.
- The country boasts of a rigorous political system which coupled with strategic geographical location, powerful economy and a politically conscious electorate.
- Business Insider spoke to two political analysts to get a glimpse of powerful politicians in Kenya to watch out for in 2019 and beyond.
12 powerful Kenyan politicians to watch out for in 2019 and beyond
Since gaining independence in 1963, Kenya has maintained remarkable stability, despite changes in its political system and crises in neighbouring countries. The country boasts of a rigorous political system which coupled with strategic geographical location, powerful economy and a politically conscious electorate who every five years go to the ballot to elect leaders who then by extension end up controlling the political and economic fate in Africa.
Business Insider spoke to two political analysts to get a glimpse of powerful politicians in Kenya to watch out for in 2019 and beyond.
Charles Kipkulei is a respected political analyst based in Nairobi whose thought-provoking analysis has seen him invited to several media houses countless times to offer his insight.
Gichuki Weru is a political analyst and Nyeri County Representative at the Youth Senate Kenya Organisation. Both are youthful and politically awoke and their political stars are shining bright with potential.
At the moment there are three undisputed powerful politicians in Kenya by virtue of their positions and years of political experience. President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto and Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga command fanatical following in the country and political stature no other politician in Kenya can hold a candle to.
So, apart from the ‘three kings’ here are twelve other powerful politicians in Kenya to watch out for in 2019 and in one way or another do have a stake in determining who becomes the 5th president of Kenya come 2022.
The leader of Amani National Congress (ANC) is a man to watch especially after the handshake between President Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga.
Hailing from Western Kenya, a region that is currently being courted by many politicians because it is vote-rich demographics but also because it hosts some of the most politically conscious electorates who are politically receptive to other leaders not from their region, Mr Mudavadi remains one of Kenya’s most powerful politicians.
He served as the seventh Vice President of Kenya in 2002 and as Deputy Prime Minister from 2008- 2012.
“After the handshake between President Kenyatta and Raila Odinga opposition effectively become nonexistent but one leader who has stood to say that he is not interested to join the government and would like to remain as the opposition leader is Musalia Mudavadi and you have seen how he has been keeping government in Check by articulation especially the growing Kenyan debt for some time now so he continues to remain a strong opinion sharper and a man to watch,” says Kipkulei.
Boasting of a vast political experience Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka, who is the leader of Wiper party is one of Kenya’s most powerful leaders.
Born in Tseikuru, a remote part of Mwingi District Mr.Kalonzo was first elected to parliament in 1985 as Member of Parliament for Kitui North Constituency and went ahead to hold powerful ministerial positions in both Daniel Moi and Mwai Kibaki’s governments
He served as the tenth Vice-President of Kenya from 2008 to 2013 and In 2016, he was named African Dignitary Man of the year.
“Although he has diminished in his stature, he still remains influential and ranks among top ten powerful politicians in Kenya,” says Kipkulei.
Baringo Central senator, Gideon Moi, who is also the son of former president Daniel Moi is one of Kenya’s powerful politicians.
He is the Chairman of the Kenya African National Union (KANU), which for decades was the ruling party in Kenya. A favoured son of president Moi, he has Presidential ambitions and hs expected to be a key player in 2022 succession politics. In 2017 general elections, he rallied KANU to support Uhuru Kenyatta for a second term, something which complicates Ruto’s ambitions to succeed his boss.
“As much as Deputy President William Ruto may be the kingpin of Rift Valley and the leader of the Kalenjin people you can never dismiss the importance of Gideon Moi, you can only dismiss him at your own peril,” says Weru.
Gideon Moi has the vast financial muscle to bankroll a well thought out presidential campaign as well as a rich political network on his favour.
Murang'a County Women Representative Sabina Chege has in the past spoke fondly of him.
"The Kikuyu nation loves you very much so you should not feel afraid whenever you are in the county. We respect your father for taking care of this nation when he was the head of State and feel happy whenever we see him," Sabina once said.
Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko is one of the most controversial politicians in Kenya today and as a result, he is never far away from news stables.
According to Mr Kipkulei by virtue of being the head of Kenya’s capital continues to give him visibility at the national level that other governors do not enjoy.
“You can clearly see this by the issues that are happening in the Nairobi County level occupying national prominence in a manner that would not have been in a different county,” says Kipkulei.
In 2018, Sonko was ranked the most improved governor according to the latest survey from Trends and Insights for Africa (TIFA), a research firm.
The ‘Sultan of Mombasa’ as Hassan Joho fans fondly like to refer to him is the undisputed kingpin of Mombasa and the larger Coast region.
Thanks to his fearless and fiery tongue combined with sharp fashion sense Hassan Joho not only hogs national limelight but has emerged as a key political
“Governor Joho has completely taken over the Coast region and at the moment it is near impossible to do anything in Mombasa without consulting him, although he has said he will vie for Presidency come 2022 that notwithstanding he remains a very powerful player in 2022 succession politics because he controls the Coast region so a lot of politicians who wish to succeed President Kenyatta will be coating him and dangling all manner of carrots in form of powerful government positions in exchange for Coast region vote block, so his star will still be shining bright after 2022,” says Weru.
The governor also has Raila’s ear and remains a key player in 2022 succession politics.
No other woman in Kenya best exemplifies learning your craft and owning it like a boss' than Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu.
Born in 1952 in Mbooni village, Ngilu first threw her hat in the political ring in 1992 during Kenya's second-ever multiparty elections where she pulled off a big surprise by capturing the Kitui central constituency seat while running on the Democratic Party ticket.
In 1997, she again made history when she vied for the presidency, along with Wangari Maathai becoming the first ever female presidential candidate in Kenya.
“Charity Ngilu has served as an MP, Minister and now a Governor, she has her own political party which makes her a very strong politician,” says Weru.
Hate her or love her but one can never underestimate former devolution Cabinet Secretary and now Kirinyanga Governor Ann Waiguru.
Thanks to her wits and boldness she has cut a niche of herself as one of the most visible female leaders in Kenya.
“Waiguru is one of the strongest female leaders in Kenya at the moment and has positioned herself as among the leaders of women political class in Kenya,” says Kipkulei.
In 2017, Waiguru was elected as Council of Governors’ vice chair effectively making her the first woman to hold the Chairman’s position when she finally succeeds Salim Mvurya.
She is Kenyan version of Margaret Thatcher and as such she doesn’t mince her words when it comes to speaking against corruption and justice for Kenyans.
She is a former long-standing member of parliament for the Gichugu Constituency and an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya. She was Minister of Justice until resigning from that position in April 2009.
She is currently the leader of Nark Kenya Party.
“Martha Karua is among the few Kenyan leaders who has a clean record and has never been mentioned in any corruption cases. She can make a very good president for our country, she is very strong and principled and continues to hold sway even when out of the government. She is a role model and has inspired many young women to join politics,” says Weru.
Aden Duale & Kipchumba Murkomen
Garissa Town Member of Parliament, Aden Duale, who is also the Majority Leader of the National Assembly and Kipchumba Murkomen, who is the senator of Elgeyo- Marakwet County, as well as the majority leader of the Senate, are two powerful Kenyan politicians by virtue of their positions.
“The political party leaders in parliament the likes of Senate majority leader Kipchumba Murkomen and National Assembly majority leader Aden Duale, these are leaders who are becoming strong opinion sharpers because now they are becoming the CenterPoint of mobilization of MPs and also driving the government’s development agenda in parliament,” says Kipkulie.
Wycliffe Oparanya - Council of Governors Chairman
Kakamega governor Wycliffe Oparanya was elected as the as the chairman of the council of governors on 2019.
The ODM deputy party leader who took the mantle from Turkana governor Josphat Nanok had served as a member of the Finance and Economic Affairs Committee at the CoG before his appointment.
He beat Anne Waiguru (Kirinyaga), Anyang’ Nyong’o (Kisumu), Salim Mvurya (Kwale) and Jackson Mandago (Uasin Gishu) to emerge victorious.
“By virtue of just being the chairperson of Council of Governors will make whoever occupies this seat important and somebody to watch out for so we expect to see Wycliffe Oparanya to influence the public conversation,” says Kipkulei.
Gatundu Member of Parliament, Moses Kuria is one of the most controversial lawmakers in Kenya.
Everywhere he goes he seems to court controversy and he is therefore loved and hated in equal measure.
The guy literally insulted his way to parliament during the 2017 general elections.
“Moses Kuria is a maverick and difficult to ignore, his style of politics continues to make him relevant for days to come,” says Kipkulei.
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