After pitching his policies on local manufacturing to members of the Buy Kenya Build Kenya multi-sectoral initiative on the morning of Tuesday, September 28, Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga was scheduled to engage the Mount Kenya Foundation – an influential group of business people from Central Kenya who put their billions to work for Presidential candidates as a matter of routine, funding campaigns and voter mobilization initiatives.
The meeting has been seen by analysts as one of the strongest indicators yet of the kind of backing the former Prime Minister might receive should he make another stab at the Presidency in 2022 as is widely expected. It also signals a shift in the political landscape considering the Mount Kenya Foundation’s instrumental role in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s aggressive campaigns when he faced off with Raila in 2013 and 2017.
The Mount Kenya Foundation was also heavily involved in former President Mwai Kibaki’s re-election in 2007. The foundation is similar to other groups such as the Council of Eminent Persons which includes big-name businessmen and leaders from Murang’a County such as Royal Media Services (RMS) founder SK Macharia. Their contributors, members and officials are drawn from across the populous region and use the groups as a platform to advocate for their interests.
Here, Citizen Weekly takes a look at a few of the members of the Mount Kenya Foundation.
Titus Ibui is the Chairman of the LAPPSET Corridor Development Authority. LAPPSET is a regional infrastructure partnership between Ethiopia, Kenya and South Sudan which Kenya hopes will strengthen its position as a gateway to East Africa and the Great Lakes region. Ibui is also the founder and Executive Director of Bell Industries Limited – an agro-business and health solutions company.
Bell Industries sells a range of herbicides, insecticides, fertilisers, fungicides and farming implements to farmers across the region. It was, however, most recently in the headlines for the wrong reasons as the procurement scandal at the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA) unraveled. KEMSA was on the spot for purchasing PPEs and medical equipment at inflated prices at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic costing taxpayers billions.
Ibui had to appear before a Parliamentary committee as his company won a Ksh185 million tender to supply 15,000 PPE kits at Ksh9,000/piece and 5,000 thermometers at Ksh10,000/piece. He defended himself and his company, noting that the firm had done business with KEMSA since 2015. He, however, admitted observing that the PPE procurement process was flawed.
Peter Munga is the founding Chairman of Equity Bank Group and one of its largest individual shareholders. He also holds a major stake in Britam, the financial services conglomerate and is the founder of the Pioneer Group of Schools. Munga is a constant feature on various lists of Kenya’s wealthiest men.
He founded Equity Bank, then known as Equity Building Society, in 1984 and spearheaded its growth alongside CEO James Mwangi who was hired in 1993 and leads the organization to date. He also resigned as an assistant secretary in Kenya’s Ministry of Water in 1993.
On the political front, Munga is an influential behind-the-scenes figure who has been among key contributors to campaigns by President Uhuru Kenyatta and former President Mwai Kibaki.
An accountant by profession, Michael Waweru has held several senior roles in the public and private sector. He is also among major individual shareholders of firms including TransCentury, Kenya Airways and East African Cables.
He was the Managing Partner at Ernst and Young – East Africa until 2002. In March 2003, he was appointed Commissioner General of the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), where he served for 9 years up to 2012.
He has served as Chairman of Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya (ICPAK). He is currently also chairman of Zamara Group (formerly Alexander Forbes) and KCA University Board of Trustees.
Dennis Waweru is currently the Chairman of the Kenya Investment Authority (KenInvest). Notably, he served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Dagoretti South Constituency between 2013 and 2017.
The holder of a Bachelor of Commerce Degree and MBA in Strategic Management, Waweru is also a Partner and Director at Faida Investment Bank. He has previously served as the Vice Chairman of the Kenya Association of Investment Banks and Stock Brokers (KASIB).
He was the Co-Chair of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Secretariat, an initiative fronted by President Uhuru kenyatta and ODM Leader Raila Odinga. Waweru has previously expressed interest in the Nairobi County gubernatorial race.
Mutuma Nkanata is the co-ordinator of the Mount Kenya Foundation. He is also currently the Chief Executive Officer of the NGOs Co-ordination Board – the regulator for NGOs in Kenya.
Nkanata is also an influential figure in Meru County politics and is among key proponents of the ‘one man, one vote, one shilling’ revenue sharing formula which has been supported by, among others, Odinga.
He is also the Chairman of Kirimara Sports – a Meru-based sports development organization focused on promoting talents from the region in fields including football.