The president who vowed to end corruption has become one of the richest men in the country
Kibaki considered the document his greatest achievement. But many aspects of it remained unimplemented and it did not prevent ethnic tensions from escalating into violence during Kenya’s 2017 elections.
Mwai Emilio Stanley Kibaki was born on November 15, 1931 in Othaya, a village on the slopes of Mount Kenya, the traditional homeland of the Kikuyus. His parents were cattle and tobacco farmers and he grew up in a mud hut.
He was educated at Nyeri Boys School, where he had to grow his own food and sleep on a hay and plywood mattress, which he believed was responsible for his upright posture. A precocious learner, he excelled academically and won scholarships to Makerere University in Uganda and the London School of Economics, where he was considered the first African student to graduate with a first-class degree.
After graduating, he returned to Makerere University in 1958 as an assistant lecturer in economics. He did not participate in the Kikuyu-led Mau Mau uprising at his home in Kenya, in which his brother was killed, but he helped draft both Kenya’s independence constitution and the constitution of the Kenya African National Union party, which took power after the end. of British rule.
He returned to Kenya in 1960 to become general manager of KANU. In 1963, after independence, he was elected to parliament as a representative for Donholm constituency in Nairobi and was re-elected in all elections held until 2007.
In 1969 he was appointed Minister of Finance, a position he held until 1982, and did a steady job overseeing the coffee boom of the late 1970s, although his steep rise in government spending had exceeded income.
In 1978, after Moi inherited power from Kenyatta, Kibaki was elevated to vice president and served as Moi’s deputy as Moi transformed Kenya into a one-party state following a coup of state failed in 1982. He was demoted to health minister in 1988 after falling out. favor.
A political chameleon, able to forge alliances that bridged Kenya’s deep ethnic divides, Kenyans joked that Kibaki had never seen a fence he hadn’t sat on. In 1992, shortly before multi-party democracy was reintroduced, he compared calls for democracy with “trying to chop down a fig tree with a razor blade”, but then defected from government and created his own party.
He lost rigged elections to Moi in 1992 and 1997. By the time he was elected in 2002, defeating Moi’s hand-picked successor, Uhuru Kenyatta, corruption had completely gutted the state and beleaguered Kenyans were obliged to pay an average of 16 bribes per month. . At the head of an opposition alliance dubbed the National Rainbow Coalition, Kibaki pledged to lead Kenya “out of the current desert and malaise into the promised land”.
A car accident while campaigning forced him to use a wheelchair for the first few months of his presidency. After removing a blood clot from his leg, he gave an incoherent interview outside Nairobi hospital, fueling speculation that he had suffered a stroke, and much of the government was run by assistants during his first term.
Nonetheless, his administration got off to a promising start, introducing free primary education, recovering millions of stolen funds from the public purse, and ordering investigations into past corruption scandals. Aid flows have been restored and foreign investors have returned, attracted by annual growth rates of around 5%.
But many Kenyans have complained that they see little benefit. While Kibaki lavished largesse on his home state, where tea and coffee industries flourished, other regions remained marginalized and prominent politicians accused of corruption went unpunished.
When Kibaki’s crusading anti-corruption czar John Githongo dramatically resigned in 2005, leaking allegations of fraud that he said led to the presidency, it caused a stir.
A few months later, Kibaki presented voters with the constitution he had promised during his campaign. He was deeply flawed and they vehemently rejected him, an outcome widely seen as a vote of no confidence in his presidency. A new constitution would not be agreed until 2010, but by then Kibaki had become a hate figure among Kenyans, who believed he had stolen the 2007 elections.
During his five decades in public service, he became one of the wealthiest men in Kenya, amassing vast land holdings as well as stakes in hotels and insurance. On leaving the presidency, he treated himself to a generous severance package and he split his retirement between his mansion in Nairobi’s affluent Muthaiga neighborhood and his £2.6million country estate.
Mwai Kibaki married, in 1961, Lucy Muthoni; they had a daughter and three sons. She died in 2016. In 2004, a year into his presidency, it was revealed that he had a second polygamous marriage to Mary Wambui, with whom he had a daughter. Thereafter, the two women were both seen at official functions, usually every other day, although the arrangement ended when they argued in public.
The Telegraph, London