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It's not good etiquette - Mutahi Kagwe refuses to criticise CS Nakhumicha, speaks on 2027

In a rare media interview on Monday, former Health CS Mutahi Kagwe discussed the roots of the ongoing doctors' strike, sleepless nights as CS during the 2020 pandemic, why he believes BBI should be resurfaced and his plans for the 2027 political season.

Former Health CS Mutahi Kagwe during an interview with Kameme FM presenters Gatonye Mbugua and Muthee Kingei on April 8, 2024

Almost two years since he handed over the Ministry of Health docket to now-CS Susan Nakhumicha, Mutahi Kagwe on Monday offered a media interview discussing his time as CS and the current situation in Kenyan politics.

Kagwe, who has largely kept a low profile since he left government, began his interview by explaining why he is not willing to criticise his successor despite insider knowledge of running the Ministry.

"Good etiquette dictates that you shouldn't leave a job and immediately begin criticising the person who takes the role after you. It is not fair and it's not good manners," he stated on Kameme FM, in a quote loosely translated from the Kikuyu dialect the former Nyeri Senator spoke in.

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The former CS went on to observe that the ongoing doctors' strike will only be resolved if the government and the doctors' union can engage in dialogue. He advised that grandstanding will only prolong the crisis.

He acknowledged that allowances for intern medics were ratified in the 2017 Collective Bargaining Agreement, citing that at the time the government averted a strike by negotiating on immediate steps that would be taken from the CBA.

Kagwe further pointed out that the CBA was also partly influenced by the political climate at the time, given that it was an election year.

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Speaking on how Kenya navigated the 2020 pandemic, Kagwe noted that he had sleepless nights during the time with most of his worries being on how the country could mitigate the catastrophic effects witnessed especially abroad.

He noted facing pushback from governors who did not understand the need for stringent measures taken by government and having to convince them in Zoom meetings.

"At one point we had to explain to Governors via Zoom calls, that they would have to take measures on the burial of COVID-19 victims, and they didn't want to hear any of it," he stated. He, however, expressed gratitude that Kenya was one of the countries that handled the pandemic relatively well and with some of the fewer deaths recorded globally.

Commenting on the National Dialogue Committee (NADCO) report, the former CS highlighted that one of the most important recommendations is on the reconstitution of the electoral body - Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

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He insisted that there is a need for some electoral boundaries to be reviewed according to the number of people represented by an MCA, MP or Senator, noting that regions of the country miss out on government allocations due to discrepancies in electoral boundaries.

The former CS pointed out that some of the issues the Mt Kenya region is facing, especially on benefitting from government support, had been addressed by the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

"BBI still needs to be resurfaced because the current NADCO report only addresses a few of the issues we have now. Kenyans still need to decide whether they want or don't want the BBI amendment, we shouldn't be begging for what is rightfully ours and Mt Kenya people need to understand that because we are the ones who are affected by the two things I've spoken about," Kagwe insisted.

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He felt confident that the Mt Kenya region can still consolidate its political voice as long as the people abandon the idea of rallying together behind one person or personality and instead back ideas and policies that are beneficial to them.

When asked about his 2027 political ambition, Kagwe emphasised that his primary focus in the run up to the General Election is consolidating the Mt Kenya vote and improving civic awareness on how politics affects income and quality of life.

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