Mwangi Kiunjuri is a seasoned Kenyan politician who will play a major role in the forthcoming general elections. His journey to becoming one of the most powerful politicians in the Mt Kenya region has not been a walk in the park due to the fact that he came from an impoverished background. His background, however, did not stop him from scaling the heights of his career.
In 2018, he differed with the president Uhuru Kenyatta after the commander-in-chief publicly rebuked him. This was after cash meant to pay maize farmers was allegedly redirected to a shadowy network, leaving farmers broke. From that moment on, he declared his stand in support of deputy president William Ruto in the succession politics. In fact, planners of the infamous “La Mada” Hotel meetings convened by Cabinet Secretaries, Principal Secretaries and state agencies’ heads shunned him since he was termed a Ruto sympathizer.
Mwangi Kiunjuri Festus was born on 29th April 1969.
Kiunjuri was born and brought up in Kahurura forest section of Mt Kenya region in Kieni, Nyeri county. His father worked as a dresser at a dispensary in the Kahurura Forest area while his mother was a housewife who engaged in peasant farming.
They were 12 children and he was the 11th born. At the age of 10, he promised to make a difference in their family.
He attended a school in the village and did not enjoy the luxury of wearing shoes until he was in Class four. After working hard, he got a chance to join Moi University for a Bachelor degree in Education.
Before joining politics, he did odd jobs to sustain himself.
While still at Moi University, he would sell clothes to make ends meet. After University, he sold vegetables to earn a living. He would buy them at Kinangop and sell them in Githurai, Nairobi. Between 1983 to 1997, the politician got employed at Kangema High School, Dr Kiano Boys School and Kiarithaini Secondary School in Mathira, Nyeri county. He also managed to acquire an old lorry which he used for transportation business.
Entry into politics
His transport business was based in Nanyuki main bus terminus where he would spend a lot of his free time engaging in a lot of political discussions. A number of his friends urged him to try his hands in politics and promised to support him.
In 1997, he was elected on a Democratic Party (DP) ticket as the Laikipia East Member of Parliament. In an interview published by The Standard, he said that the nominations were such a hurdle since some people wanted to rig him out and so he got another nomination from Safina party just in case he lost the petition he had filed. He couldn’t even raise the then Sh50,000 that parliamentary candidates were supposed to have and people would call him makanga (tout) as an insult. Luckily, he was able to sell his lorry and come up with the money. After winning, he joined parliament at the age of 28.
In 2002 and 2007, he was re-elected into parliament and retained his position as Laikipia East Member of Parliament.
In 2013, he vied for the Laikipia gubernatorial position but lost.
Apart from being an MP, he has also served as an assistant minister in the Water and Irrigation Ministry before being moved to the Ministry of Energy.
In 2015, Ann Waiguru resigned due to corruption allegations and he took over as Devolution and Planning Cabinet Secretary.
In 2017, after the Jubilee party won the election, he was appointed Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture.
Following the 2018 handshake, he has been a strong supporter of the deputy president William Ruto.
A few weeks after the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report was unveiled at the Bomas of Kenya, he mobilized 57 MPs from the Mt Kenya region for a retreat in Embu. It is alleged that during the Embu meeting, the MPs vowed to boycott all future presidential meetings claiming he had subjected them to ridicule.
On 14th January 2020, he was relieved of his position as Minister for Agriculture.
According to a wealth declaration report by Parliament’s Committee on Appointments, he declared his wealth to be valued at Sh798 million as at December 2015.
Mwangi Kiunjuri is married to Wangui Kimathi the couple are blessed with a boy named after his father and a girl named Wahu. His wedding to Wangui in Nanyuki was a big event attended by the late Daniel Arap Moi and former president of Kenya Mwai Kibaki. The then president Moi donated one of the ten bulls that were slaughtered at the event.
In December 2003, he was arrested together with Jakoyo Midiwo and Ali Mwakwere after they were caught in a police sting to rid the city of twilight girls. They were arrested in a swoop targeting prostitutes in Koinange Street, Nairobi. They all denied the allegations but the Sunday Nation which had covered the story refused to withdraw and insisted it was standing by its story and ready to defend it in court.